NewsPublic Affairs / January 26, 2018

Weekly Statehouse Update: Abortion, Gun Licenses, Sunday Sales

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.2018-01-26T00:00:00-05:00
Weekly Statehouse Update: Abortion, Gun Licenses, Sunday Sales

The Indiana Statehouse.

Becca Costello/WFIU
Indiana Public Media News Staff

A Senate committee advanced Republicans’ yearly effort to regulate abortions, a House committee dramatically scaled back a gun license bill, and Sunday alcohol sales measures took historic steps forward. Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse:

‘Abortion Complication’ Reporting

This year’s abortion bill requires doctors, hospitals and clinics to report to the state if a woman has any complications from her abortion. The bill says a complication includes anything from blood clots and pre-term delivery in future pregnancies to anxiety or depression.

Proponents argue it will yield better information about abortion safety. Opponents say it’s yet another roadblock for women.

Lawmakers Ditch Effort To Do Away With Handgun Licensing

A House committee this week entirely rewrote a measure that originally eliminated the need for any Hoosier to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in public.

Instead, the bill now extends one type of handgun license from four years to five – which will allow permit holders to avoid background checks every time they buy a gun. The legislation also eliminates the fee to obtain a lifetime handgun license.

Sunday Sales Takes Historic Step Forward

Bills to legalize Sunday alcohol carryout sales passed both the House and the Senate this week – something such legislation has never done before.

One of the chambers’ identical bills will have to pass through its opposite house before the measure can go to the governor’s desk.

Could A Hate Crimes Bill Finally Pass?

Debate on a hate crimes bill was emotional and, at times, heated Tuesday as a Senate committee kicked off conversation on the issue.

Indiana is one of five states without a hate or bias crimes law. The legislation would allow judges to impose harsher sentences if a crime was committed in part because of a victim’s characteristics – such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The committee will consider amendments and potentially vote on this year’s legislation next week.

House Approves Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

Lawmakers approved a House floor amendment Thursday to require yearly sexual harassment training for all state lawmakers.

The provision would require lawmakers take at least one hour of sexual harassment training each year. Exactly what qualifies as training would be decided by the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem.

All 95 House members present voted in favor of the amendment.

Various CBD Legalization Measures Move Forward

A House committee passed legislation Wednesday to legalize cannabidiol, or CBD oil. The unanimously-approved bill takes a simpler approach to authorizing its use.

There are several bills in both chambers that seek to legalize CBD. But most of the others deal with industrial hemp and CBD derived from that product. Rep. Tom Washburne’s language would legalize CBD as long as it has point-three percent or less THC, a psychoactive ingredient – regardless of what cannabis plant the CBD comes from.

In the meantime, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.) announced Friday he’s extending a moratorium on enforcement of Indiana’s law banning sales of CBD, giving lawmakers more time to develop legislation.

Committee Chair Kills Factory Farm Regulation Bill

House Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Dave Wolkins decided this week not to hear a bill this session that deals with confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Controversy has sprung up around CAFOs in recent years as nearby homeowners complain about environmental impacts and declining property values. But Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Warsaw) says the bill went too far. It included a mandate that all CAFOs be at least one mile from homes. Wolkins says that would render CAFOs impossible.

Possible Expansion Of Feticide Charges

Indiana could join more than 20 other states in allowing prosecutors to file murder charges if a person kills an unborn fetus regardless of its viability.

A proposed bill specifically excludes legal abortions – and an amendment made it clear women who perform their own abortions would not be subject to the measure either. But opponents say that’s not enough to erase what they see as the bill’s concerning message to women who face miscarriages.

Resolution To Study Medical Marijuana

The House voted Thursday to urge the federal government to loosen its grip on marijuana so the drug can be more effectively studied.

A unanimously-adopted resolution also pushes for a state legislative study committee to examine medical marijuana legalization.

Education Measures Moving Forward

A House committee approved a measure that would make it possible for elementary school teachers to earn a special license in math. The bill aims to create an incentive for educators to learn more about and better teach the subject.

The House Ways and Means committee approved a bill that would have a major impact on financially struggling schools, despite some concerns from Gary and Muncie school districts.

A Senate committee wrapped up a two-day discussion Wednesday on a bill that would provide additional dyslexia screening for students and training for teachers. The measure now moves to the floor.

Other Bills Moving Ahead:

  • A bill concerning redistricting is headed to the Senate floor, but advocates say it doesn’t do enough to address concerns.
  • The House approved a bill that ensures local governments can’t ban short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb.
  • A House committee unanimously approved a bill that would force about 300 small townships to consolidate with larger ones. It now heads to another House committee.
  • A House committee approved a measure that would extend freedom of press protections to student journalists by preventing school officials from censoring content or disciplining students because of it. A similar measure passed through the House last year but died in the Senate.



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