NewsPublic Affairs / February 9, 2018

Statehouse Update: Halfway Through The 2018 Session

Township reform legislation died, workforce development measures advanced, and the Senate approved a bill to allow guns in churches on school property.2018-02-09T00:00:00-05:00
Statehouse Update: Halfway Through The 2018 Session

Steve Burns/WTIU

Township reform legislation died, workforce development measures advanced, and the Senate approved a bill to allow guns in churches on school property.

Here’s how lawmakers wrapped up the 2018 session’s first half:

Hundreds Of Measures Die After Session Deadlines

Last week marked deadlines for measures to be passed out of committee. This week, measures faced another deadline: bills that didn’t get a hearing on the House floor on Monday, or on the Senate floor on Tuesday, can’t advance.

But how the bill dies makes a difference. If lawmakers vote down a measure, it’s absolutely dead. However, if a bill simply doesn’t get a hearing on the floor, its subject matter can be amended into another, relevant bill later on.

Measures already dead this session include efforts to consolidate small townships, to establish a hate crimes law, and to extend some press freedoms to student journalists.

Read about other measures that have died

Workforce Development Bills Move Forward

Bills that did advance before the deadline in both chambers would make dozens of changes to the state’s workforce development and career education system.

Those include creation of a state Secretary of Workforce Training and a board of Technical Education, and a proposal to dedicate every penny collected in state corporate income taxes to workforce training. Workforce development reform is a priority for all four legislative caucuses and the governor.

Gun Changes: License Fees & Churches On School Property

The House approved legislation to eliminate the fee for Indiana’s lifetime handgun carry license.

The Senate passed legislation to allow licensed gun owners to carry their firearms into churches on school property.

Current law bars most Hoosiers from carrying guns on school grounds. The measure would still allow houses of worship to enact their own bans.

Attorney General Sidelines Voting Bill

Legislation to ensure ballots are counted even if the voters who cast them die won’t advance in the House. The bill – which easily cleared the Senate – would require absentee ballots to be counted if the person who cast the ballot dies before Election Day.

But Attorney General Curtis Hill contends the measure is unconstitutional. A non-binding opinion issued by his office says a person ceases to be a resident if they die – and the Indiana Constitution requires residency to vote.

Another Redistricting Study Committee?

Indiana Senate Republicans approved a resolution this week to study redistricting issues. That comes less than two years after a special two-year study commission that already explored the topic.

A redistricting study committee recommended in 2016 that the legislature create an independent commission to draw Indiana’s district lines. Republican majorities have ignored that bipartisan recommendation.

‘Fix’ For Rifle Hunting Mistake Moves Forward

A mistake included in a law approved last year prohibiting deer hunters from using rifles on public property would be fixed under a bill approved by the Indiana House.

The bill by Republican Rep. Sean Eberhart of Shelbyville was approved Monday on an 87-3 vote. It allows the Department of Natural Resources to write rules related to the use of rifles on public property.

CBD Legalization Seems To Have A Clear Path

The Indiana Senate approved legislation to allow anyone in the state to buy or sell cannabidiol, or CBD.

The Senate’s bill is similar to language approved last week by the House – meaning CBD legalization appears to have a clear path forward this session.

Indiana Closer To Naming Firefly As State Insect

Indiana is one of just three states in the country without an official state insect. Legislation passed in the Senate would change that.

The unanimously approved bill is the initiative of West Lafayette elementary school students. Their push to name the Say’s Firefly as Indiana’s state insect began three years ago.

Senate Approves Measure Aimed At Improving Handling Of Rape Evidence

A bill aimed at improving the way authorities handle sexual assault evidence has won Indiana Senate approval. The measure by Republican Sen. Michael Crider of Greenfield passed on a 48-0 vote.

It calls for a study of the best way to track and process evidence so it’s handled in a timely fashion. An audit last year revealed more than 2,500 so-called rape kits are languishing at police departments and in evidence rooms across the state.



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