2013 Indiana General Assembly

The fines for illegally parking in a handicap space will double July 1.

Top state lawmakers will meet at the Statehouse this week to establish the General Assembly’s top priorities for this summer’s study committees.

The Indiana Legislative Council, which governs the legislature when it’s not in session, is meeting earlier than usual this year. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says it’s partly to encourage study committees to begin their work earlier as they face what he says is “an inordinate number” of topics.

Though the so-called “Ag Gag” bill was killed in the waning hours of the legislative session, its proponents say the issue is not dead.

The measure was originally intended to criminalize certain activist behaviors such as animal rights advocates taking photos at farms or slaughterhouses and publishing them in an attempt to hurt the business. 

The Indiana General Assembly adopted a two year, $30 billion budget, one Republicans say contains the largest tax cut in state history. However, Democrats say the tax cut is an illusion.

With the governor’s signature, Indiana would become the 28th state to legalize and regulate midwifery after the House and Senate approved a bill Friday. This marked the first session during which a midwifery bill cleared both houses of the General Assembly.  But key roadblocks remained as recently as last week.

Indiana took a major step toward overhauling its criminal code Friday as the Senate approved a bill four years in the making.

The revision bill is the result of work by the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, a group of lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and law enforcement who analyzed the state’s entire code, line-by-line.  The legislation aims to make sentences for the worst criminal offenses more severe while reducing the penalties for low-level crimes, particularly first-time drug offenses.

A new revenue forecast predicts even stronger tax revenue growth for Indiana over the next two years. However, House and Senate fiscal leaders say it will not dramatically alter budget negotiations.

The April revenue forecast unveiled Tuesday shows a $290 million increase from December projections, with the biggest predicted gains coming from individual income taxes.

The most controversial portions of school safety legislation requiring armed personnel in Indiana public schools have been removed from the bill and sent to a summer study committee. 

The Senate version of the bill encouraged, but did not require, schools to hire school resource officers – trained law enforcement with extra training to work in a school environment.  A House committee added a mandate for all schools to employ protection officers, a staff member – such as teachers and principals – who would carry a gun.

Changes to a school safety bill made in a House committee will allow Indiana public schools to opt-out of a requirement that each facility employ armed personnel.  But critics say the changes still don’t solve core problems with the bill.

House Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) says he will not advance a bill addressing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Legislation that passed the Senate earlier this session directed the Pence administration to negotiate with the federal government for healthcare expansion using key portions of the Healthy Indiana Plan, including health-savings accounts that consumers pay into for their own healthcare.  It also urged federal Medicaid dollars be given to the state in block grant form.