that’s by administrative or legislative authority, if needed.”
Among the bills
left unfinished were measures that would have boosted school safety funding,
regulated self-driving cars, eliminated handgun license fees and allowed
churchgoers to carry guns to worship services and on school grounds.
requested the additional school safety funding and included the driverless
car bill in his agenda for the year.
controversial bill that died would have further diminished the authority of
the Gary school board while allowing Ball State University to take over
Muncie schools. There were also multiple tax bills that didn’t advance.
At one point,
Holcomb even offered to issue a special order extending the session by an
hour past midnight, though it was far from certain if he had the legal
authority to do so.
When it was all
said and done, leaders in the House and Senate pointed blame at each other
for allowing the bills to die.
“This day was very
chaotic,” GOP Senate leader David Long said early Thursday. He singled out
Rep. Ed Soliday for making “things extremely difficult,” while suggesting
the Valparaiso Republican “had a meltdown” during final negotiations on
It was perhaps a
fitting bookend to a session that was already more notable for bills killed
and plans postponed than legislative achievements. From the start,
Republican leaders sought to lower expectations about what would be
accomplished in an election year, freely acknowledging that they didn’t have
an overarching policy objective to accomplish.
complicating factor was a power struggle in the Senate Republican caucus,
brought on by the impending retirement of Long, who plans to step down from
his Fort Wayne seat in November.
things greatly,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, of Indianapolis. Long,
however, insisted it was an “unfair rumor.”
Republicans for wasting time.
“It is total
mismanagement,” said House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, an Austin Democrat.
“They are a group that has complete and total control of the chambers and
they can’t get the work done.”
Over the past few
days Republicans in the House and Senate spent much of their time in closed
door meetings or celebrating lawmakers who were retiring.
“We were here all
day yesterday when our colleagues weren’t,” said Bosma, who mocked the
Senate for adjourning early on Tuesday by suggesting they wanted to catch
the “early blue plate special.”
Still, there were
some accomplishments in the final week.
restrictions on the use of cannabis-derived oil, voted to allow young
immigrants called “Dreamers” to obtain professional licenses and backfilled
a public school funding shortage.
But the session
also had misfires.
improvements to workforce development and job training programs were
supposed to be a dominant issue backed by Holcomb. But instead, Republicans
downsized their ambitions, pushing for a reshuffling of a governing board
overseeing those efforts, while postponing heavy lifting for next year.
Earlier in the
session there was an effort to add Indiana to the list of 45 other states
with a hate crimes law, but that foundered amid opposition from
conservatives in the state Senate. And a plan by House Republican leaders to
eliminate a large number of townships also failed to generate support.
Lawmakers did find
time to ban the practice of eyeball tattooing and establish the Say’s
Firefly as the state’s official insect.
accomplished another feat signed into law by Holcomb: eliminating a
prohibition on carryout Sunday alcohol sales that had effectively been in
place since Indiana became a state in 1816.