Gov. Eric Holcomb delivered his first State of the State address, controversy erupted over a bill aimed at protesters who block traffic, and a Senate committee approved a balanced budget amendment.
Holcomb’s State of the State was largely a recitation of his legislative agenda. That includes addressing the state’s drug crisis and seeking to generate $1 billion in investment in Indiana companies over the next 10 years. On road funding, Holcomb avoided specifics, saying only that he’s open to a “menu of options.”
A Senate panel had an abbreviated hearing for a bill from Republican Sen. Jim Tomes that would require police to respond within 15 minutes to protesters blocking a roadway and remove those protesters using, “any means necessary.” That language raised serious concerns. After allowing Tomes to introduce the bill, Senate committee chair Jim Buck only took testimony from one group – the Hoosier State Press Association, which opposes the measure – before withdrawing the bill, saying it would either be fixed or killed.
And a Senate committee approved an amendment to Indiana’s constitution requiring the legislature pass a balanced budget. This is the measure’s second time through the General Assembly; if it passes this year or next, it goes to the voters on the 2018 general election ballot.