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Republican Senate Leaders Outline 2018 Priorities

Jan 8, 2018

Senate Republican leaders outlined their 2018 priorities Monday. Those priorities include Sunday alcohol sales, the roll-out of mandated prescription monitoring to prevent opioid abuse, workforce development, and the regulation of property seizure.

Also included in those priorities is a bill to cover a school funding gap, by allowing the State Budget Agency to transfer reserve money.

All Hoosier voters could cast absentee ballots by mail without any excuse under legislation advanced Monday by a Senate panel.

Under current law, a voter must provide a reason they’re voting absentee by mail – for instance, they’ll be out of town on Election Day. The bill from Sen. Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) would eliminate that requirement – anyone could vote absentee by mail.

More than 200 prospective Democratic candidates from across Indiana packed two conference rooms in Indianapolis to learn how to run a political campaign. The “boot camp” taught campaign finance, communications and canvassing.

The Indiana Democrats and the National Democratic Training Committee provided training to help first-time candidates get their campaigns off the ground.

Poonam Gill is running for Indiana’s 88th House district and says it’s hard to launch a campaign.

Redistricting reform advocates renewed their call this week for Indiana legislators to act. But the Senate Elections Committee chair wants to have a slightly different conversation.

House and Senate lawmakers of both parties have bills this session to establish an independent redistricting commission to draw Indiana’s legislative maps – similar to bills that have been filed for years.

Indiana House Republicans will push legislation this session that could eliminate nearly a third of all Indiana townships – potentially getting rid of more than 1,200 elected officials.

Legislative leaders pushed total township elimination about a decade ago – and were met with resounding, bipartisan opposition.

An Indiana Democratic lawmaker will push the state to legalize assisted suicide under very limited circumstances. Proposed legislation would apply only to Hoosiers with a terminal illness and no more than six months to live.

The bill authored by Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) would establish rigorous procedures to allow assisted suicide. It would involve a form developed by the State Department of Health, multiple physicians, two witnesses who cannot be connected to the patient, and potential counseling to determine if the person is competent to make the decision.

Medical Marijuana Advocates Rally, Legislation Filed

Jan 3, 2018

As the 2018 Indiana General Assembly gets underway, a bill to legalize medical marijuana has been filed. But this year’s proposal may have more momentum.

Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) spoke at a rally at the Statehouse to announce his bill to legalize cannabis for anyone with a serious medical condition. This is not the first bill filed with that aim, but Lucas is hopeful and says he started researching cannabis after the legality of CBD was questioned.

“Why aren’t we one of the 29 states that don’t criminalize its citizens for seeking a better quality of life?” Lucas says.

Republican legislative leaders indicated Wednesday they will likely not take any significant action in the 2018 session to address issues at the Department of Child Services.

Democrats want the General Assembly to exert its oversight authority on the embattled child welfare agency.

Lawmakers Announce Push To Expand Baby Box Locations

Jan 3, 2018

Lawmakers in the 2018 session want to spread the use of so-called “baby boxes” in Indiana. New legislation would expand last year’s law that legalized the devices meant to serve as a more anonymous way for someone to leave an unwanted newborn.

Courtesy Indiana Senate Republicans

A polarizing figure in the Indiana Senate will step down after the new year.

Republican Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) will resign just before the legislative session gets underway, to follow his wife to Washington, D.C., where both are taking new jobs.

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