Phil Boots

Legislation to ban handheld cell phone use while driving appears headed to passage after a Senate committee easily approved the measure.

Legislation to allow speed cameras in highway work zones didn’t get a vote in a Senate committee Tuesday. And its future this session is in doubt.

Wind turbines line a gravel road in Benton County
Taylor Haggerty / WBAA News

As the debate about wind power  continues in West Central Indiana, proposed legislation could limit small towns’ ability to regulate turbine construction near their community. A bill reducing extraterritorial powers goes to the House Committee on Government Reduction for a vote Tuesday.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Last year, Crawfordsville’s Human Rights Commission changed city ordinances to ensure they could not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

But when the Indiana Senate passed a hate crimes bill this week, it did not include any such language. That angers one listener to WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, who wants to know what Crawfordsville’s Todd Barton plans to do about it when he next talks to State Senator Phil Boots, who voted for the stripped-down bill.

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

State officials are taking the road funding debate outside the statehouse, to rural locations across the state.

The meetings between the Department of Transportation and Indiana Farm Bureau are a chance for rural residents to speak up about their infrastructure needs.

Larry Pullam was one such resident at a recent meeting in Crawfordsville. He's a retired corn and soybean farmer from Hendricks County, and says he never felt like he had a voice in the infrastructure conversation before the meeting.

Bill Would Create School Security Handbook

Jan 27, 2016
Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

Schools may get a blueprint next year for tightening security.

The Senate votes next week on ordering Indiana's Department of Homeland Security to compile a handbook of security precautions schools should take.

Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) says schools need more guidance on potential vulnerabilities.

But Boots notes the Department of Education already works with schools on security issues.

Bradley Wells / https://www.flickr.com/photos/bdwells1986/

A House committee votes Thursday on lifting restrictions on buying and selling wine on the Internet. Indiana bans online wine sales unless the customer has first had a face-to-face transaction with the seller.

Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) argues that requirement is both unnecessary and outdated. He says some Indiana wineries have given up on in-state sales because of the burdens of the law, and only ship their product out of state.

But while Boots says wineries would benefit from the law, he says it‘s consumers who have pushed hardest for the change.

Vegas Thornton / https://www.flickr.com/photos/vegast/395958569

The Indiana House easily approved legislation repealing the state’s common construction wage, and the bill’s support in the Senate looks strong.  So pushing the issue to summer study committee could be opponents’ best remaining hope.

Set by local boards, the common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects. 

Pete Rimsans is the executive director of the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council, a workers group leading the charge to keep the common wage. 

slack12 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/slack12/

A Senate committee Wednesday unanimously approved legislation allowing wineries to sell directly to consumers over the phone or internet, without a face-to-face interaction.

Current law says retailers can only ship wine directly to individual customers if there’s been a face-to-face transaction first, at which point their age is verified.

Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) proposed legislation that would eliminate the face-to-face requirement, allowing customers to send ID via email, fax or through online age verification programs.

Eric J Paparatto / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejpphoto/

Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota are all Republican strongholds, but they all passed binding referenda last week to increase the minimum wage.

Indiana doesn’t legislate by referendum. Democrats say they plan to propose an increase in the upcoming General Assembly, but Senate Pensions and Labor Chairman Phil Boots says he doesn’t plan to give those bills a hearing.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s up to the employer and the employee to set their wages and benefits etc., so I don’t think we need to get involved,” Boots said.

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