We frequently in this space discuss our displeasure at the addition of more laws and regulations on both the federal and state level. Many times we feel these legislative changes are deeper intrusions into everyday citizens’ lives with the benefits being reaped only by the government and an ever-growing “Big Brother” situation. This week another new law was passed in the state of Ohio but this time we applaud its creation.

On Thursday, Gov. Kasich signed into law HB 315 (See the complete changes at: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_315). Amongst other items, including variances and changes in definitions of the operation of maternity homes and the updating of drug chemical names, the law requires reports be sent to the Ohio Department of Health giving the number of children born who are diagnosed as opioid dependent at birth. HB 315 was authored by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (District 81).

The Times Bulletin has been reporting on the serious drug problem in Van Wert County for years and the situation finally warranted being included in the Top Ten stories of the year as far back as 2010. Drug use is still considered a major issue in the area with the heroin epidemic being rated the number two story locally in 2013. The decision was an easy one to make considering nearly 40 percent of all cases handled in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court contained drug-related charges during the year.

Drug abuse is not just a Van Wert County problem, however. The state of Ohio realized the issue last year and in January rolled out a new program called Start Talking. Using four initiatives, the program attempts to help parents and peers talk with students about the dangers of drug use:

1) 5 Minutes for Life - This program utilizes a partnership between the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio National Guard, high schools, and the OHSAA to persuade student-athletes to ambassadors for a drug-free life.

2) Building Youth Resiliency - This behavioral-health program focuses on school attendance, discipline, and grades in an effort to keep students in school and off the streets where drug problems arise.

3) Know! - This drug awareness and prevention program works with teachers through schools and the Ohio Department of Education to look for drug use signs in students.

4) Parents 360Rx - This program’s goal is to give parents the tools they need to talk about drug problems, including prescription drugs, and the issues of abuse and dependency.

(The state of Ohio’s website for the Start Talking program is http://starttalking.ohio.gov/)

In addition to these steps, now the state legislature and Gov. Kasich have gone further in an attempt to identify potential drug abuse problems. By collecting data on the number of babies starting off life already addicted to drugs, the state can take steps to help these children and track whether the problem is continuing to grow or if their efforts are working to curb drug use in one segment of our society. It remains to be seen what the government does with this statistical information but we applaud the first step in the effort.