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Senate panel to hear drug dealer sentencing bill

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – An Indiana Senate committee is set to vote on a bill that mandates tougher sentences for some convicted drug dealers.

Bill author Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon said the bill being considered Tuesday would keep the worst drug dealers off the streets for longer periods.

The measure comes nearly two years after lawmakers passed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s criminal code and less than a year after they earmarked $30 million to boost mental health and addiction services.

Opponents say it’s too early to revisit criminal sentencing since the effects of the overhaul and health program investment cannot yet be measured. Lawyer groups also have opposed the bill, saying it takes power away from judges who are in the best position to decide sentences.