Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

A look at bills advancing in the Indiana Legislature

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By The Associated Press

This week was a key legislative deadline when bills were to clear their house of origin and be sent to the opposite chamber. A look at the bills that are moving in the Statehouse and their status. Bills that have not cleared their house of origin are technically dead, but proposals can be amended into other legislation later if lawmakers desire.

Proposals that have cleared the Democrat-led House:

— LOCAL GOVERNMENT — Bill would let voters decide in November whether to eliminate their local township trustees and boards.

— TEXTING WHILE DRIVING — Bill would ban texting or sending e-mails while driving. Now moves to Senate, where prospects are uncertain.

— PET SHOP PETS — Bill would require retail pet stores to give buyers information about a pet’s background and medical history before selling a dog or cat. Bill would also make it a felony to attend a dog fight.

— LOBBYING RULES — Bill would make lawmakers wait one year before becoming lobbyists and would require lobbyists to report gifts worth $50 or more instead of the current threshold of $100. The Senate has approved a similar bill.

— NO EXCUSE VOTING — Legislation would allow voters to cast absentee ballots by mail without having an excuse such as being out of town on Election Day. Republican-led Senate has opposed previous attempts to expand mail-in absentee ballots.

— SMOKING BAN: Bill that originally would have banned smoking in public places except legal gambling venues was amended to also exempt bars, taverns and tobacco shops. Senate Republican leader says bill unlikely to move in the Senate this year.

Senate proposals that have cleared the Republican-led Senate:

— UNEMPLOYMENT TAXES — Bill would delay unemployment tax increases on businesses for a year. Could struggle in the House.

— CHILD SUPPORT — Bill would withhold gambling winnings from deadbeat parents who owe back child support and win more than $1,200 on slot machines. One of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ legislative priorities.

— REDISTRICTING — One bill would create guidelines for redrawing state political district maps next year. Another would create a study committee that could ultimately lead to an independent commission to draw new maps starting in 2021. Prospects appear dim in House.

— LOCAL GOVERNMENT — Bill would eliminate township boards and their duties would be transferred to the county level starting in 2013.

— BEER SALES — Proposal would allow microbreweries to sell beer for takeout on Sundays in Indiana.

— GAY MARRIAGE — Proposal could eventually lead to a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions in Indiana. Will likely go nowhere in House.

— THIRD-GRADE READING — Bill is a stripped-down version of a plan Daniels pushed. Original bill would have held back third-grade students who can’t read at grade level. Revamped bill simply requires the Department of Education and state Board of Education to create a plan to improve reading skills.

— SCHOOL START DATES — Legislation would prevent most schools from starting classes before Labor Day. Future is uncertain in House since education committee chair in that chamber says he favors local control.

— IMMIGRATION — Bill would require state agencies to verify the status of workers through the online E-Verify program.

Proposal that has cleared both the House and Senate:

— PROPERTY TAXES — Proposal to allow voters to decide whether property tax limits should be put in the state constitution has already gained final approval. Voters will decide in November whether the constitution should limit property tax bills to 1 percent of homes’ assessed value, with 2 percent caps on rental property and 3 percent limits on business property.


Posted 2/4/2010




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