2016 Session

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As legislators tinker with road funding plans, mass transit advocates say not to forget them.

Kim Irwin with the Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit says buses, rail and even bike trails and greenways are part of infrastructure too -- and they're the kind of infrastructure that attracts people.

The group isn't looking for money in the road bills. But Irwin says they want to start legislators thinking about increasing transit funding next year in the state budget.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management / Facebook

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management Tuesday handed down a fine to an Indianapolis company for disposing of fetal remains as medical waste without a permit. 

And Indiana Right to Life and some conservative lawmakers say the case shines a light on the need for a current bill that would ban that practice.

Indiana law requires a permit to dispose of fetal remains as medical waste.  And the Indianapolis solid waste company did not have that permit and was fined around $11,000. 

Tobacco Free Indiana / Facebook

Health groups are urging the Indiana Senate to set aside its misgivings and endorse a tax hike on cigarettes.

The plan is to spend that money on Medicaid and free up existing money for roads.

But IU Health cardiologist Julie Clary argues the debate over doubling the cigarette tax shouldn't be about taxes at all, but about making it too expensive to be unhealthy.

Monique French leads the group Tobacco Free Indiana and says a cigarette tax increase would push 40,000 Hoosier smokers to quit, and dissuade 50,000 teenagers from starting.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Legislation to create a permanent Indiana drug task force heads to the House floor after a committee approved the measure Tuesday.  

The bill has support from both parties, but some Democrats want language to ensure diversity on the task force.

Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

Legislation opening up records from Indiana’s closed adoptions era – 1941 to 1993 – cleared a major legislative hurdle Monday.

This year’s adoption records bill gives birth mothers four options – allow contact, allow contact only through an intermediary, bar contact entirely, or only allow their children access to the birth mother’s medical records. 

Last year’s version of the bill was killed in a House committee after fears arose over birth mother privacy. But bill author Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) says this year’s changes have removed most of the opposition. 

huntingdesigns / https://www.flickr.com/photos/huntingdesigns/

Legislation imposing rules and restrictions on Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting facilities looks likely to pass through the House. But, industry opponents are still lobbying for stricter language.

Environmental and conservation organizations have long opposed high-fenced deer hunting, an industry left unregulated by the courts last year.

The likelihood of the General Assembly banning the industry outright this session is essentially zero, but the opposition groups hope to strengthen proposed rules and restrictions.

David Clow / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidclow/3876732726

Senate lawmakers have taken steps to regulate daily fantasy sports but chosen chose not to classify the practice as gambling.

A Senate bill passed easily, but the legislation’s path through the House isn’t as secure.

The Senate legislation imposed some regulation on the multi-million dollar industry, including bans on insider information and prohibiting professional athletes and officials from playing. 

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Legislation that would allow people to get prescriptions without an in-person exam or visit from a health care provider is headed to the Senate.  But some lawmakers aren’t comfortable taking steps forward in “telemedicine” services.

Telemedicine is health care provided remotely through, for instance, videoconferencing.  The proposed bill would allow doctors, physician assistants or advanced practice nurses to write some prescriptions for a patient without seeing them in person. 

ISTEP Repeal Bill Would Replace Test By 2018

Feb 4, 2016

A move to replace ISTEP with a shorter test is on legislators' radar for a second straight year -- but the House and Senate have traded places.

Both chambers have passed bills calling for a study of what should replace ISTEP.

But the House bill abolishes ISTEP when the current contract runs out next year, with a new test making its debut in 2018.

Last year, it was the Senate which voted to eliminate ISTEP -- the House wanted to review the issue.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says both chambers agree ISTEP is what he calls “a broken brand.”

Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

House Democrats say they won’t let the LGBT rights debate die this session.

Senate lawmakers killed a bill earlier this week that aimed to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual Hoosiers from discrimination.  House Democrats are looking for ways to work the issue into another bill -- though House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says the odds aren’t good.

The gay rights bill – Senate Bill 344 – failed to advance out of the Senate before the session’s first half deadline after Republican leadership said they couldn’t muster enough support for the measure.