Walker discusses upcoming legislative topics

Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, addresses business leaders during an Aspire Johnson County luncheon Friday, March 15, 2024, at Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood, Indiana. (Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal)

As state lawmakers begin meeting in interim committee meetings, Medicaid spending will likely be the elephant in the room this summer.

That’s how State Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, phrased it as talks get underway to help determine priorities in next winter’s legislative session.

Walker said he’s hearing individuals at the statehouse blaming cost overruns in Medicaid on a mistake in waiver language drafted a few years ago.

“To be more accurate, we’ve got cost overruns because medical expenses continue to increase much quicker than the rate of inflation – or the rate of tax collections,” Walker said.

Since the demand for Medicaid has increased by $850 million, the senator said he anticipates that lawmakers will either want to trim or drop some unrelated expenses.

“Those who finalize the budget will say that if you want ‘x’, you are going to have to give up ‘y’ and ‘z’, because we are going to have a flat-line budget,” Walker said. “That’s the mood going into next January.”

Artificial intelligence

Both fear and fascination regarding artificial intelligence has stirred up extensive interest in trying to control the ethics of AI. But Walker says such an undertaking is going to be extremely challenging.

”It’s not the technology, but rather if it’s appropriate to rely upon a compilation of everything that can be known on a given subject,” Walker said. “Now, don’t forget that a lot of stuff on the internet is false information. So that creates a quandary: How do you teach a machine to program a machine to differentiate between what is true and what is fictional?”

While the Columbus Republican said there is a real potential of misuse of AI, he admits he needs to study the subject matter more thoroughly before making any firm conclusions.


Despite a recent proposal from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, Walker said he still doesn’t sense an appetite in the General Assembly to revisit the topic.

If lawmakers would legalize it, Walker said it would allow purity testing and quality control of what seems to be increasingly potent marijuana. But he also claimed there is a body of research that suggests that high-potency marijuana affects brain function and development.

“My concern is mostly with undeveloped thinkers like children and young adults,” Walker said. “I really hate the signal that (legalization) sends to young people, like the 16-year-old who says if an 18-year-old uses marijuana, so can he. But it’s not the same brain due to the different stage of development.”

If state lawmakers decide to do anything on the subject this winter, the senator said it may only be to decriminalize small quantities.