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10 Key Bills That Passed In This Year’s Legislative Session

Some measures that passed the legislature this year include a reduction of the business personal property tax and changes to the state's criminal code.

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Photo: Jimmy Emerson (Flickr)

The legislature had a short session this year, compared to the budget session held every other year.

Monday and Tuesday of this week were the deadlines for bills to pass the House and Senate, respectively. In other words, if a bill did not pass both chambers, it is essentially dead this session.

However, many of the bills are not finalized. If changes were made to the original bills, they typically can be further altered in what’s called a conference committee–a group of House and Senate members that sit down to work out the differences between the two houses.

Here’s a look at some of the key pieces of legislation that are on there way to becoming law and some of the issues with them that lawmakers say need to be worked out.

1-2. Business personal property tax (SB 1 and HB 1001)

Two bills this session aim to reduce the business personal property tax.

The Senate version eliminated the tax statewide on small businesses, which compromise about 50 percent of those that pay the tax. That version would cost local governments statewide about $13 million a year.

The House version gives local governments the option of eliminating the business personal property tax on new equipment.

Both versions contain a super abatement, extending the current option of abating the tax on new equipment for ten years to at least 20 years.

Both bills passed the legislature and they will head to a conference committee to work out their differences.

3.  Criminal code reform (HB 1006)

The overhaul of the criminal code passed last session and lawmakers planned to work out additional details this year–particularly how to pay for additional local community corrections programs. In addition to reconciling technical conflicts between last year’s bill and other criminal code laws, the bill creates potential grants for county community corrections programs contingent on savings in the Department of Correction.

The author of this year’s bill, Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, says he is unsure whether he will consent to the changes made to the bill or send it to a conference committee.

This legislation mandates drug testing for some welfare recipients who have previous drug convictions. An earlier version of the bill required welfare recipients to take a pre-screening test and those who showed a likelihood for addiction would have to take a drug test before receiving benefits.  The bill is headed for conference committee.

The measure allows people to have guns in school parking lots if they are locked in a car and out of sight.  Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who created that language, says loosening state restrictions will prevent parents who are picking up their children from school from unknowingly committing a crime.

The bill’s author, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, plans to dissent to the current version of the legislation because he wants to address a separate part of the bill that concerns gun buyback programs. Tomes’ original bill banned buyback programs. A House change allows local units and law enforcement to conduct the programs, but only if they don’t use public funds. Tomes wants the bill’s original language restored.

This legislation requires hospitals to report when babies are born to drug-addicted mothers and experience neonatal abstinence syndrome. Current law does not require any reporting, which advocates of the law say creates difficulties in addressing the problem. The bill’s author, Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, says she plans to dissent to the final version of the bill because of the cost.

7. Regulation of abortion physicians (SB 292)

The bill requires physicians who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges in writing and have those documents sent to the state. A compromise to protect concerns about doctors’ privacy removes any identifying information before those documents are released to the public.

Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, the bill’s author, says he plans to concur, sending the bill to the governor’s office.

8. Concussion education for youth/high school football coaches (SB 222)

Previous legislation requires schools to tell parents about the possible risk of concussion in all sports, and if an athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he’s not allowed to return to play until he’s received a written clearance.

This year’s bill goes further, making Indiana the first state to mandate concussion education for both high school and youth football coaches.

But its author, Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, says he will to dissent to the passed version of the bill and send it to conference committee to clean up some technical issues.

9. Legalizing industrial hemp (SB 357)

We’ll have more on this later in the week, but the gist of the bill is that it legalizes hemp production pending federal approval. Hemp production is still illegal at the federal level. Sen. Richard Young, R-Milltown, says he will dissent and send the bill to conference committee because of changes that create additional requirements on transportation fuel–an unrelated issue.

10.  The moped bill (HB1343)

This bill requires that “motor driven cycles” be registered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but it also excludes mopeds from titling requirements. Rep. Dave Wolkins, R-Warsaw, plans to concur to changes made during the session, and the bill will head to the governor for approval.

Brandon Smith contributed to this report.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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