April 12, 2019

Weekly Statehouse Update: Senate GOP Budget Proposal, Gaming Bill Changes

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Weekly Statehouse Update: Senate GOP Budget Proposal, Gaming Bill Changes

Weekly Statehouse Update: Senate GOP Budget Proposal, Gaming Bill Changes

Senate Republicans released their budget proposal, with more money for schools over the next two years. Gaming legislation went through major changes. And an expansion of the state’s Stand Your Ground law is headed back to the House.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

Senate GOP Budget

The Senate GOP budget proposal would send $535 million more to schools over the next two years – a $74 million increase compared to the House proposal. But the Senate plan would also cut the amount of money that goes to virtual schools, from 90 percent of tuition support per student, to 80 percent.

The Republican plan also includes the governor’s proposal to pay off some teacher pension debt for schools, but instead of using the state’s reserve fund, it would dip into the state’s Pension Stabilization Account. It would also require districts publicly explain where they use those savings – lawmakers have said they should go to teacher pay.

Gaming Bill Changes

The House Ways and Means Committee made major changes to the session’s gaming bill. It severed ties between a Gary casino and potential new casino in Terre Haute – Vigo County voters can decide on a new license with a ballot referendum, regardless of what happens in Gary. The other change in committee cut the Gary casino’s cost of moving by $50 million. That, along with reports of the governor taking two private flights with the Gary casino’s CEO, sparked an amendment in the House, codifying better transparency when lawmakers meet with casino representatives.

Stand Your Ground

And the Senate passed an expansion of the state’s Stand Your Ground law. The expansion extends the criminal protection of the use of force to defend yourself, your property or someone else to civil court.

The measure goes back to the House.

Revenge Porn

Two bills penalizing those who share intimate or pornographic images without a person’s consent cleared the Indiana House.

There’s nothing in Indiana law to punish what’s commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” distribution of pornographic images or videos without someone’s consent.

Power Plant Moratorium Language Removed

Legislation that could have put a moratorium on some new power plants in Indiana was overturned Thursday. The House passed an amendment to remove that language from a bill dealing with various utility matters.

That language, from a previous amendment, would have largely put big utility projects on hold until the state could study the transition to alternative energy sources and come up with a statewide energy plan.

Attempted Murder Charges 12- And 13-Year-Olds

The Indiana Senate approved legislation Monday that allows 12- and 13-year-olds accused of attempted murder to be tried in adult court.

People that age accused of murder can already be moved to adult court – and one lawmakers says it makes sense to do the same for those tried for attempted murder.

The legislation heads back to the House.

Lending Bill Changes

A controversial lending bill that narrowly passed out of the Senate is on its way to the House floor with a few changes. The amendments approved in committee Tuesday were not released until an hour prior to the meeting.

The House Financial Institutions Committee took no public comment on the bill, which changes rules for high-interest, short-term loans.

One of the amendments lowers the interest rate cap for loans of less than $3,000 to meet the state’s 72 percent rule. And while the cap was lowered to 167 percent on loans requiring no collateral, that number is still well above what’s outlined in existing law.

Construction Erosion

controversial bill regarding erosion on construction sites is headed back to the state House. It wouldn’t allow local governments to make stricter erosion control rules than state ones. But now, after a Senate amendment, there’s one exception. 

Legislators recently amended the bill to allow local governments to make stricter erosion regulations for projects covering less than an acre of land. The state doesn’t currently have rules for these very small construction sites.

Hemp Advisory Committee

A House committee has restructured the membership of a hemp advisory committee – if growing the crop is legalized in the state.

Senators had removed farmers from the committee, but the House version of the bill includes them, as well as an elected sheriff and a member of the Midwest Hemp Council.

Lawmakers Amend Indy Eleven Language

State lawmakers changed the conditions Monday for the Indy Eleven soccer team’s ability to build a new stadium and collect tax revenue from the area around it.

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed an amended bill that removes a requirement that Indianapolis have a Major League Soccer franchise before the Eleven may collect taxes from the stadium district.

Animal Cruelty Penalties Scaled Back

Senate lawmakers this week approved legislation that aims to sharpen state law surrounding animal cruelty.

But the measure doesn’t go as far as its author originally wanted. The legislature might study increased animal cruelty penalties this summer.

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