Chesterton Tribune



Duneland legislators tell progress in short session

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Two of Duneland’s four legislators spoke with the Chesterton Tribune about their priorities in 2020 and how the bills they have filed in the Indiana General Assembly’s short legislative session have fared so far.

State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) has authored 12 bills and coauthored nine. State Representative Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) has authored five bills and coauthored four.

Tallian highlighted two of her bills that have advanced out of committee, which she expects will pass a full vote of the Senate: SB 202, Worker’s Compensation, and SB 302, Indigency. SB 202 is focused on raising worker’s compensation benefits, which Tallian said hasn’t been done in six years, and SB 302 on bringing consistency to the way criminal courts across Indiana determine a defendant’s indigency status.

Tallian also continues to advocate for the creation of an agency that would regulate the sale, distribution, and manufacturing of cannabis products (SB 112) and is a coauthor on SB 325, a bill affirming the Indiana Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Gunderson v. Indiana that the Lake Michigan shoreline is public up to the ordinary high water mark.

SB 325 is a challenge to HB 1031, a new proposal which advocates again for private ownership of the beach by property owners who’s deeds provide that their property extends to the Lake.

Both SB 325 and SB 112 are scheduled for committee hearings this week.

“For every good idea we try to propose, we also try to fight ideas that aren’t so good,” Tallian said. She’s planning to speak against a bill in the Senate corrections and criminal law committee tomorrow that could allow the Indiana Attorney General to take over cases that local prosecutors decline to pursue.

As a candidate for Attorney General, Tallian said she’s opposed to the measure and more in favor of local control. “The local prosecutors are elected, and they know where they can spend their energies,” she said. “To think that the state should get involved in local minor possession cases is kind of ridiculous,” she added.

Boy highlighted HB 1257, Notice of Environmental Contamination, which was partially inspired by chemical exceedances from Arcelor Mittal in August 2019 that caused a fish kill and beach closures. The bill would require that any company that doesn’t give appropriate public notice of spills in accordance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) rules be subject to penalties of $25,000 to $50,000 per day that notice isn’t given.

Boy said the bill was heard in the House committee on environmental affairs, but there was no vote. “I set up some pretty high penalties. I was open to amending it, but they didn’t want to take it anywhere,” she said.

“The spill is an accident, and I understand accidents,” Boy said, but continued that not telling people is “either purposeful or careless.” There are currently fines for spills, but no fines for failure of notice, Boy said.

Boy plans to support another bill that proposes requiring companies to make public notification without the threat of fines, and said she may propose an amendment to it.

Boy also proposed HB 1058, a bill to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and HB 1056, Parental notice of juvenile arrest. HB 1058 got a committee hearing, but no vote. “We always complain about how bad our turnout is, so if we could get them started earlier and interested in voting, what have we got to lose?”, Boy said.

HB 1056 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Family, Children, and Human Affairs committee tomorrow morning. The bill would require that schools notify parents of students who are arrested or detained while at school before the student is taken off school premises. The bill makes exceptions for emergency situations and warrant arrests.

Moseley and Soliday

State Representatives Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) and Charles Moseley (D-Portage) were not available for comment at deadline today.

According to the Indiana General Assembly website, Soliday authored five bills and is a coauthor on five more; Moseley also authored five bills and is a coauthor on three.

HB 1151, which Moseley co-authored, provides that school resource officers are considered public safety officers for the purposes of the public employees special death benefit fund. It has advanced out of committee and unanimously passed third reading in the House, and was referred to the Senate Wednesday. Also, Moseley’s bill to allow county election boards to offer electronic campaign finance reporting (HB 1288) advanced out of the House elections and apportionment committee Thursday.

Two of Soliday’s bills (HB 1279, Development areas, and 1414, Retirement of electric generations facilities) both advanced out of committee last week. HB 1279 provides for cooperation between the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the Northwest Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD). The Associated Press reported Thursday that HB 1279 is intended to block the closure of coal-fired power plants, and it faced backlash in committee from critics who worry it would impede the development of renewable energy.


Posted 1/27/2020




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