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Statehouse Update: Roads Bill In Committee, Pay Raises Dead

This session’s major road funding measure cleared its first hurdle this week, a government pay raise bill came and went, and a House committee approved syringe exchange legislation.

Stakeholder groups and members of the public testified for more than four hours this week on the House GOP road funding bill. The measure, which raises fuel taxes and creates new vehicle registration fees, has created strange bedfellows. House Democrats side with religious conservative groups in opposition while labor unions back the Republican-led effort. The bill cleared committee mostly along party lines, with one Republican – Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) – joining Democrats in voting no.

A Senate lawmaker proposed – and then withdrew – a significant pay raise for statewide elected officials. Sen. Randy Head’s (R-Logansport) bill would have increased salaries for, among others, the governor, auditor, and attorney general, in some cases as much as about 50 percent. After drawing fire for the proposal, Head says he’ll change it to a study committee on the topic.

And the House Public Health Committee passed a bill to allow counties to establish syringe exchange programs without state approval, which is required by current law. The bill is a priority of Governor Eric Holcomb and passed 12 to 1, despite the objections of new Attorney General Curtis Hill, who testified in opposition.

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