Indiana Senate

LuAnn Snawder /

  A former federal immigration official testified Wednesday before an Indiana Senate panel on immigration, and he painted a bleak picture of the U.S. immigration system.

Michael Cutler worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service for 30 years before leaving the agency two decades ago. He’s now affiliated with a private think-tank that advocates for limiting all immigration – including legal immigration.

Testifying before the study committee, Cutler warned of what he sees as the dangers posed by illegal immigration.

Noah Coffey /

Indiana’s Senate immigration study committee shifted its focus in its third meeting Wednesday to the impact of both legal and illegal immigration on the workforce. 

The committee heard testimony from a variety of sources: business organizations, immigration attorneys and people who’ve gone through the immigration process. And a common theme surfaced. 

Here’s Indianapolis immigration attorney Angela Adams:

“It’s largely up to the federal government to solve this quagmire of immigration policy.”

Mike Ripley from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce:

Jonathan Nightengale /

State lawmakers and small farmers appear to have reached a compromise over previously contentious legislation regarding who can sell chickens to restaurants and other institutions.

Currently, producers slaughtering 20,000 birds of fewer annually are limited to “household consumer” sales…that means they can sell through farmers markets, at roadside stands or directly out of their operations.

Joe Gratz /

Indiana is one of only five states without any hate crimes law.  Legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by a Senate committee would change that.

Sen. Sue Glick’s (R-LaGrange) bill would allow judges to inflict harsher penalties based on a person’s motivation for committing a crime – specifically, if they committed a crime with the intent to harm or intimidate someone based on that person’s race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, or transgender status. 

M Glasgow /

Legislation approved by the Senate Thursday would impose new rules for Indiana’s high-fenced hunting facilities, an industry left entirely unregulated by recent court rulings.  The measure appears headed for success after years of failing in the legislature.

The legislation would mandate minimum fence heights – eight feet – and minimum acreage – 80 acres for the seven existing facilities, 100 acres for any new facilities.  It also bans hunting in the reserves using drones, requires the facilities to report disease and escapes, and allows wild sheep and goats to be hunted. 

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers can carry guns in the Statehouse, and they want their staff members to be able to do the same. A Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that would grant that permission.

It’s a violent world, says Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville), the author of a bill that would allow staff members, not just lawmakers, to carry handguns in the state capitol building.

Tomes says allowing staff members to defend themselves is especially important, considering what he calls the dangerous area surrounding their workplace in downtown Indianapolis.

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.

Robert Carr /

Communities across Indiana would receive more than $400 million for road and bridge projects under a plan unveiled Thursday by State Senator Brandt Hershman. 

The Republican from Buck Creek wants to give back to municipalities and counties some of the local income tax dollars the state holds in reserve.

Typically, local governments only get those dollars if the reserve balance exceeds 50 percent of annual collections.

The balance is currently around 25 percent. But Hershman says he wants to give locals that money, about $418 million, for roads.

Senate Republicans Unveil GOP Anti-Discrimination Bill

Nov 18, 2015
Noah Coffey /

Senate Republicans Tuesday unveiled the details of legislation they say strikes a balance between protecting the LGBT community from discrimination and ensuring Hoosiers’ religious freedom.  

Noah Coffey /

Democrat State Sen. Mark Stoops of Bloomington wants the Indiana legislature to suspend its rules during a mostly ceremonial session Tuesday to pass a bill that he says will protect students and teaches from low ISTEP scores.

ISTEP test scores are used to set teacher pay and give schools a grade on the state’s A-to-F accountability scale. A school with too many Fs could face takeover by the state.