INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana’s legislative session descended into chaos in its final minutes as
Republicans who dominate the Statehouse struggled to pass bills ahead of the
midnight deadline on Wednesday.
That killed a
number of key bills in a session that was more notable for big ideas
deferred and bills that lawmakers pulled the plug on than for big-ticket
Still, Gov. Eric
Holcomb signed some noteworthy legislation into law. And lawmakers sent
several bills to his desk before they adjourned for the year to focus on
campaigning in November’s elections.
Here’s a look at
some of the bills that were considered this session:
state’s job training and workforce development programs was supposed to be a
major issue this session. Holcomb even said it was his primary focus.
Instead, lawmakers downsized their ambitions. They approved legislation that
will reorganize the board that oversees those programs and broadened
eligibility requirements for some worker training grants. Democrats likened
it to rearranging patio furniture.
Several weeks ago
Republicans in both chambers appeared to be reaching a consensus on
legislation that would eliminate handgun license fees. But that changed in
the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead.
pushed proposals to allow guns at churches located on school grounds and
eliminate fees. But Senate Republicans refused to go along with that and the
bill died on the session’s final day.
Lawmakers failed to
deliver on Holcomb’s request for $5 million for school safety improvements,
which the Republican requested after the Parkland school shooting. Another
$1 million would have gone to the Department of Education to audit every
Indiana school’s safety plan this year. The Senate approved the measure on a
40-5 vote, but the House did not get to it before the session ended.
A stopgap bill that
will cover an unexpected shortage in public school funding is on its way to
Holcomb’s desk. The measure, a priority for Republicans, will provide up to
$25 million this year and $75 million next year to make up the funding
shortfall. Republican leaders say they did not plan on a surge in public
school enrollments, which prompted the shortfall.
An effort to allow
Ball State University to take over Muncie schools and further reduce the
Gary school board died in the session’s final minutes when the Republican
majorities ran out of time. Both districts were previously overseen by local
officials who mismanaged money. The measure would also have provided a
framework for dealing with other school districts with financial troubles.
A measure allowing
parents to review sex education curriculum in public schools and have their
children “opt out” of such classes is heading Holcomb’s way. It will require
schools to make two attempts to notify parents about planned sex education
instruction. Conservative groups would have preferred an earlier version of
the bill that would have required parents to “opt in.”
legislation approved by the Legislature could lift a prohibition on
immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children - often
referred to as “Dreamers” - from obtaining state professional licenses. The
governor has said he supports the bill. The issue cropped up unexpectedly
this session after the state’s public licensing agency changed its
interpretation of a state law and started withholding licenses. Under the
bill, participants in former President Barack Obama’s program called
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, would be able to get
licensed for dozens of professions including cosmetology, nursing and real
A bill that allows
for the widespread sale of a cannabis-derived oil was approved and sent to
Holcomb. Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is believed to have
therapeutic benefits, and it lacks the stuff that will get you high. Last
year lawmakers passed a law allowing people with some types of epilepsy to
use it, but confusion over the law led to a state crackdown.
A measure requiring
medical providers who treat women for complications arising from abortions
to report detailed patient information to the state was sent to Holcomb.
Though the bill is not as expansive as Indiana abortion laws passed in
recent years - some of which have been successfully challenged in court -
the governor has not indicated if he will sign it.
Call it the biggest
achievement of this year’s legislative session if you want. Holcomb signed a
bill last month allowing people to buy carryout alcohol on Sundays at liquor
stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and big box retailers across the
state. It overturns a prohibition on the retail sale of alcohol that has
existed in Indiana since statehood.
Indiana remains one
of only five states without a hate crimes law after the bill died in the
Senate without a vote in January. The measure would have allowed judges to
stiffen sentences for those convicted of so-called crimes of bias, notably
against transgender people. Influential social conservatives opposed the
measure because they felt it would give special recognition under the law to
a particular class of people.
A measure that
would have legalized payday lending at rates of up to 222 percent was killed
amid opposition from veterans and faith groups, including House Speaker
Brian Bosma’s own church. The bill was approved by a close margin in the
House, but died in the Senate.