2016 Session

Jim Nix / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimnix/6168273244

7pm UPDATE:

House lawmakers Wednesday adjusted a measure that would reform the state’s medical malpractice system.  But, legislators acknowledge the bill isn’t a finished product.

Indiana’s medical malpractice cap – currently $1.25 million dollars – hasn’t been raised in nearly two decades.  That’s lead to concerns about its constitutionality, and the bill aims to fix that. 

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

A bill that mandated new environmental regulations could not exceed federal standards is headed to the governor’s desk. It heads there only after significant changes.

The Senate passed the so-called "No More Stringent Than" bill, House Bill 1082, after significant amendments. The bill now only requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, to report proposed changes for legislative review.

Senate sponsor Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) led the bill’s overhaul.

VIEVU / http://www.vievu.com/

A bill regulating when police body camera videos are released to the public cleared one of its last major legislative hurdles Tuesday – the Senate passed the bill in a near-unanimous vote.

Sen. Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says one of the biggest issues in the House version of the bill was the burden it placed on the public and the press to prove a police body cam video should be released to the public. 

The Senate switched that burden – now law enforcement would have to prove in a court that it shouldn’t.  Bray also notes the importance of what’s not in the bill.

Brian Hefele / https://www.flickr.com/photos/brhefele/6973020335

Senate lawmakers Tuesday advanced their compromise on the ongoing road funding debate. 

The Senate’s version of the road funding bill does not raise any taxes (unlike its House counterpart).  Instead, it would spend down the state’s surplus and give local governments more freedom to raise or create road funding taxes. 

It would also create a new task force compromised of lawmakers and state and local officials. Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says the task force will focus on transportation infrastructure needs and develop long-term funding solutions.

Maycomb Paynes / https://www.flickr.com/photos/24730945@N03/

House lawmakers approved a bill Monday that regulates Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves, sending the measure to the governor. That comes more than a decade after the legislature first began working on the issue.

The state tried to shut down high-fenced hunting preserves more than 10 years ago.  A court battle finally ended last year with a ruling that said the state couldn’t regulate the facilities at all, under current law. 

The 4 Big-issue Bills Approved On The Final Day Of Statehouse Committees

Feb 29, 2016
Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

1. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE 

The House Judiciary Committee Monday revived a bill that reforms Indiana’s medical malpractice law.

The bill raises the amount someone can collect for a single malpractice incident, from $1.25 million to $1.65 million. It hasn't been raised in 18 years.

Supporters say this accounts for inflation and prevents future legislators from having to deal with the issue. Others say the increase would further discourage physicians from working in Indiana.

The bill passed 11-1.

Jonathan Nightengale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnath/

State lawmakers and small farmers appear to have reached a compromise over previously contentious legislation regarding who can sell chickens to restaurants and other institutions.

Currently, producers slaughtering 20,000 birds of fewer annually are limited to “household consumer” sales…that means they can sell through farmers markets, at roadside stands or directly out of their operations.

Senate Backs Away From Direct Auto Sales Ban

Feb 26, 2016
Tesla Motors / Facebook

The Senate has pulled the plug on a bill which would have shut down the Tesla Motors showroom in Indianapolis. Instead of franchising dealerships, Tesla sells to customers directly.  But the Senate had proposed banning that practice.

Senate Commerce Chairman Jim Buck (R-Kokomo) says he's been bombarded with angry calls from Tesla owners, so he killed the bill in favor of the House's original call for a study committee.

Brian Hefele / https://www.flickr.com/photos/brhefele/6973020335

Senate fiscal leadership Thursday unveiled its attempt at a compromise in the road funding debate. The effort came in the form of a committee amendment that dismantled much of the House Republicans’ proposal.

The Senate’s action came one day after House Republicans inserted the entirety of their plan into a Senate bill, ensuring it would be kept alive in the process.  That’s because the Senate committee only kept small portions of the House plan in the proposal it unveiled. 

Indiana Economic Development Corporation / http://indianaregionalcities.com/

Legislators last year budgeted $84 million for Regional Cities grants, with the money to come from the state’s tax amnesty program.

The amnesty raised more money than predicted, and Pence announced three $42 million grants in December instead of two.

But House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) warned last week the votes aren't there to get the extra money out of committee.

Several committee members say they resent being put on the spot to back up the administration's promises without first being consulted.

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