Mike Young

Thomas Hawk / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

Indiana judges will no longer be able to reduce sentences for serious heroin or meth dealers.  The General Assembly made this change in the law this past session -- but some lawmakers say the change begins to unravel the recent overhaul of Indiana’s criminal code.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Advocates on either side of the religious liberty/LGBT rights debate at the Statehouse say they’re not surprised a bill aiming to rewrite last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act died Wednesday without even receiving a vote. 

The proposed bill would’ve labeled certain constitutional rights – including freedoms of religion, speech, thought, and assembly – as “fundamental” and required judges to give deference to them. 

LGBT rights group Freedom Indiana opposed the bill, arguing it threatened to promote discrimination against the LGBT community. 

Melanie Holtsman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/holtsman/4577259238

A proposal to make some cold remedies prescription-only is taking a back seat, with a Senate committee instead endorsing a pair of less stringent alternatives.

Senators voted to ban drug offenders from buying medication with pseudoephedrine, and to require pharmacists to question purchasers in a way that satisfies pharmacists the drugs won’t later become meth.

Fulton County pharmacists have taken that step on their own.

Medical Marijuana Debate Killed (Again) In Senate

Jan 19, 2016
David Trawin / https://www.flickr.com/photos/trawin/4473997946

The Senate has snuffed out another attempt to open the door to medical marijuana in Indiana.

Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) has authored bills in past years to decriminalize pot or allow medical marijuana use.

This time, she tried instead to allow people with valid prescriptions from other states to use that as a defense against a possession charge.

Tallian says legislators have created a catch-22 on medical marijuana.

Legislators To Consider RFRA Repeal

Jan 8, 2016
Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

As legislators ponder adding civil rights protections for gays and lesbians, they'll also revisit the religious-freedom law which sparked the whole debate.

Senators will consider a bill repealing RFRA and replacing it with a new version.

Indianapolis Republican Mike Young says it broadens the focus from freedom of religion to all First Amendment rights and the right to bear arms, classifying those freedoms as "fundamental rights."

Young argues the bill should address objections about how RFRA was drafted.

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dkalo/

Senate Republicans will push this session to make it easier for prosecutors to try to convict people as drug dealers. 

Indiana’s recent criminal code reform required prosecutors to have evidence besides just the weight of a drug to prove someone was dealing drugs – for instance, scales and plastic baggies. 

Senator Mike Young (R-Speedway) wants to eliminate that extra requirement if a person is caught with at least thirty pounds of marijuana or ten grams of other drugs. 

Young notes those amounts are just a starting point and could change.

The Indiana Senate passed a statewide smoking ban Wednesday.  However, lawmakers still have work to be done before the bill can reach the governor.

The House has passed the ban six consecutive years, but Wednesday marked the first time it even got a vote in the Senate.  Opponents of the bill say it violates property rights and individual freedoms.

State Senator Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says the smoking ban is government intrusion into business and he worries about the precedent it sets.