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Government News

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

A bill to expand access in Indiana to baby boxes won’t advance any further this session. Baby boxes are meant to be a more anonymous way for people to drop off unwanted newborns.

Still, the expansion effort is alive and well – in a separate piece of legislation.

A 2017 measure allowed hospitals to house the devices. Last year’s law also grandfathered-in the state’s two existing baby boxes, which are in volunteer firehouses.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

A House panel Monday unanimously approved legislation its author calls "the grossest bill of the session." The measure would ban the practice of eyeball tattooing.

Gene Helveston is a longtime Indiana ophthalmologist. He supports the bill to ban the practice of tattooing an eyeball – though he acknowledges he doesn’t know of anyone who does it or has had it done.

“But I think that’s because the proposition is so preposterous that nobody who I keep company with would do such a thing,” Helveston says.

Brandon Smith / IPB News

A Senate committee unanimously recommended creation of a special legislative study commission to investigate the Department of Child Services Monday.

Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville) authored the resolution. He says his proposed two-year commission is not meant to interfere with an ongoing, independent review of the embattled state agency.

“I think this is a great opportunity for legislators to remain engaged in this process,” Melton says.

Brandon Smith / IPBS

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says he has doubts about a measure to eliminate background checks at all gun purchases for some Indiana gun license holders.

His comments come amid renewed debate over gun regulations in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Brandon Smith / IPB News

The stroke of a pen is all that separates Indiana from legal Sunday alcohol retail sales.

The state Senate voted one last time Thursday to send to the governor a measure eliminating a Sunday sales ban that’s stood since Prohibition.

Measures to undo the law failed for decades. But this year, two of the interest groups long at odds over the issue – grocery and liquor stores – made peace and backed the effort.

Brandon Smith / IPB News

Legislation unanimously approved in a Senate committee Tuesday aims to strengthen Indiana’s human trafficking laws.

The bill makes several changes to current statute. It separates out labor trafficking and sex trafficking and better defines them both.

It also takes out the requirement in law that force must be involved in trafficking, because Rep. Sally Siegrist (R-West Lafayette) says that can be difficult to prove.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

One of the first bills headed to the governor’s desk this session will allow Indiana students to easily carry and apply sunscreen at school.

That’s as some lawmakers grumble about why the bill was necessary.

The need for such legislation grew out of requirements some schools imposed. Those included notes from a doctor or a parent and storing the sunscreen in a single school location, such as a nurse’s office.

Brandon Smith / IPB News

Indiana lawmakers may codify some existing practices when it comes to cleaning up the state’s voter rolls. And legislation unanimously approved by a Senate committee Monday deals with a part of Indiana law that’s subject to a pending lawsuit.

Indiana uses a multi-state database to find voters who’ve moved. If the Indiana voter’s name and birth date match another state’s records, the state digs further, looking at information such as Social Security number and zip code.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Indiana lawmakers want to create a new crime to dramatically increase penalties for drug dealers if the buyer overdoses and dies.

Under current law, if you give a friend a small amount of Adderall or Ritalin and they overdose and die, you could get up to two and a half years in prison. If proposed legislation passes, you could get up to 40 years.

Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director David Powell says the bill sends a message to drug dealers, even if it will rarely be used.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Legislation to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb may undergo some tweaks in the Senate.

The measure prohibits local governments from banning short-term rentals. It does allow locals to require permits for those who use platforms such as Airbnb. And it says municipalities can charge a permit fee of up to $150.

But it’s silent on how often local units can charge that fee. The bill’s author, Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) says he wants to clarify that rental owners only need to pay when they first receive the permit.

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