INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb praised a county health department nurse's work in running a needle-exchange program while calling in his State of the State speech for more action to fight drug abuse.

Holcomb introduced Fayette County nurse Paula Maupin during Tuesday night's speech as one of the state's heroes saving lives each day. Fayette is among nine counties around the state with such programs aimed at curbing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users.

Holcomb told legislators that the drug epidemic has had devastating impacts on families and communities. He says the state will give counties more authority to start programs providing clean syringes.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was reluctant to support starting the needle exchanges when he was governor.

Gov. Holcomb also said that motorists should be willing to invest a little more in order to boost funding for the state's highways. However, he avoided using his first State of the State speech to directly support proposed gasoline tax increases.

He says the extra tax money will be a worthwhile investment for the state's communities and economy.

Holcomb has previously said he supports increasing the state's 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax. Legislative Republicans have proposed increasing that tax by 10 cents-a-gallon and adding $15 to the annual vehicle registration fee.

The Legislature's badly outnumbered Democrats question why a gasoline tax hike is needed while the state continues to cut taxes for corporations.

Watch the full speech in the video player above.

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