Indiana Legislature

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Republican legislative leaders say Indiana made huge gains in health care and education in the 2020 legislative session. But Democrats decry missed opportunities.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) cites some accomplishments: loosening regulations on public schools, shielding teachers from penalties over low student test scores, sending more money for career and technical education. And he points to what he calls huge strides in health care transparency.

FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

A last-minute change to a bill at the Statehouse in the days before the 2020 legislative session came to an end opens the door for charter schools to receive property tax funding through referendum measures. Lawmakers approved the multi-purpose bill on the last day of session after more than an hour debating the language.

Indiana Bill Further Restricts Panhandling

Mar 12, 2020
FILE PHOTO: Doug Jaggers/WFYI

A bill that further criminalizes panhandling awaits the governor’s signature. 

Both Indiana chambers passed the bill that would make it a misdemeanor to ask for money within 50 feet of any place where financial transactions are made, including parking meters. That effectively bans panhandling in downtown Indianapolis.

Supporters of the bill say aggressive panhandling is the biggest complaint they hear about Indianapolis from visitors. 

The new law could face legal challenges. The Indiana ACLU says the measure is unconstitutional. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Confusion remains over whether Attorney General Curtis Hill will keep his job if his law license is suspended.

That’s because Senate Republicans couldn’t agree to a bill on the issue as the 2020 legislative session ended.

A disciplinary hearing officer recommended Curtis Hill’s license be suspended for two months, without automatic reinstatement. That stems from groping allegations against the AG.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Lawmakers sent legislation to the governor late Wednesday that would help prevent some patients from getting surprise medical bills.

HB 1004 would ensure patients will not face unexpected charges if they go to an in-network hospital but a service is done by an out-of-network doctor. They could be billed for out-of-network charges if given a good faith cost estimate at least five days in advance.

Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) says the bill is the start of lowering health care costs.

Seth Tackett/WTIU

Lawmakers voted to send a bill to the governor on Wednesday that would create a working group to look into penalties for misusing pesticides.

The original bill would have increased the maximum fines for farmers and others who abuse products like dicamba — a controversial weed killer that can drift off of fields and kill neighboring crops.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Health care facilities that perform abortions will now have procedures to follow for burying and cremating fetal remains based on legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

It’s the only abortion-related bill that advanced this session.

Controversial Coal Bill Awaits Holcomb's Signature

Mar 11, 2020
Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The state House and Senate voted to send a controversial bill on coal plant closures to the governor Tuesday. The original version of the bill aimed to keep coal plants open until Indiana could come up with a statewide energy plan. 

But the current version only requires utilities to note planned coal plant closures in their long-term energy plans called IRPs or integrated resource plans.

Hands-Free Driving Law Heads To Governor Holcomb

Mar 10, 2020
Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana is just the stroke of a pen away from becoming the 22nd state to ban cell phone use while driving unless hands-free.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly sent the bill to the governor Tuesday.

The bill says people can’t hold or use their cell phones while driving unless utilizing hands-free or voice-activated technology.

Indiana House Leadership Change Set As Session Nears End

Mar 9, 2020
BRANDON SMITH / IPB NEWS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An unusual leadership change is set to happen in the Indiana House just as this year's legislative session is about to wrap up.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Indiana lawmakers are preparing to finish the 2020 session this week a few days ahead of when state law says they have to.

The reason they’ll wrap up early: the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in downtown Indianapolis. It begins Wednesday and lawmakers will get kicked out of their hotel rooms, making extending the session through the rest of the week difficult.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana’s syringe exchange programs will get “another year of certainty” after a bill extending them was sent to the governor Thursday. 

State law would eliminate Indiana’s nine syringe exchange programs after July of 2021. And after the Senate killed a bill earlier this session to permanently extend them, many worried the programs were running out of time.

Yes4Wayne/Facebook

Lawmakers created an avenue for charter schools to access referendum funding Monday, with a sudden change to legislation in the Senate that worries public education advocates.

Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger) offered a proposal to a bill this week to let school corporations partner with charter schools to split referendum funding. Indiana law already says if school boards approve, school corporations can share some of their operations funding with local charter schools.

Houses Passes Bill To Extend Syringe Exchanges

Mar 3, 2020
FILE PHOTO: Jake Harper/Side Effects

Indiana’s syringe exchange programs are one step closer to staying open another year. The Indiana House passed a bill Tuesday that includes language to extend the programs.

The program is currently set to expire next July. A proposal to extend that date died in committee earlier in the session. House lawmakers last week brought it back by inserting that language into another bill. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

House lawmakers moved forward with a bill Tuesday aimed at increasing the transparency of health care costs in the state.  

SB 5 would create a database of prices for health care services so Hoosiers could compare costs. 

Rep. Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel) says the creation of the database is an important step in lowering health care costs.  

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