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'Paradigm shift' for public health easily clears Indiana Senate, heads to House

Indiana Republican Senator Ed Charbonneau smiles as he speaks with someone on the floor of the Indiana Senate. Charbonneau is a White man with white hair, wearing a suit.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) said his legislation, SB 4, is meant to address the long-underserved infrastructure of public health in Indiana.

Legislation headed to the House aims to overhaul the quality of care that local health departments provide to Hoosiers.

Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), the bill’s author, called SB 4 a “paradigm shift” for public health in Indiana, moving more towards preventing illness than just treating it.

Charbonneau also said his bill is about addressing the infrastructure of public health – which has long been underserved.

“We don’t build a road system and then neglect it," Charbonneau said. "We don’t build schools and not staff them. The same is true for public health.”

READ MORE: Senate committee passes bill to boost public health system, but challenges remain

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Under the bill, local health departments can apply to the state for significantly increased funding. But to get it, they must provide about two dozen core services, a list of which is included in the bill.

Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) noted the funding isn’t in the measure – that will be decided in the state budget.

“We’re going to need to make sure that we do fund Senate Bill 4 so that counties that choose to participate in this can apply and do the work that is much needed throughout Indiana," Yoder said.

The bill passed the Senate 41-7.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.