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Politically Speaking

Indiana Statehouse Final Days

April 22, 2019 (Updated: 2:05 PM)
Author Erika Celeste

About Erika

Photo of Erika

Erika Celeste got her first taste of politics as a toddler when her father took her to the People’s Barricade protest in 1972 near the Twin Cities where they lived.

Today she is an award-winning journalist with 25 years in the multi-media business. Among her accolades are several Telly’s, AP and SEJ awards, as well as an Edward R. Murrow Award. She earned her political stripes with West Virginia Public Broadcasting covering the West Virginia Statehouse for 6 years as the House Reporter. During that time, she joined and soon found herself writing and producing Third House, the annual media roast of the legislature. As the owner of a small freelance company she has written and ghostwritten more than 18 books including her most recent A Lion Has No Horns (a modern immigrant’s story). She frequently works for such entities as Voice of America, National Public Radio, and Happs.TV.

In 2016, her passion for politics collided with her love of foster partenting when she initiated and successfully lobbied the Indiana Legislature for HB 1069.The law now makes it a felony to stalk foster parents.

It’s that time of year again when the Indiana General Assembly goes into overdrive to finish all the things lawmakers have been working on since January. With the final day next Monday (April 29, 2019) it seems like a good time to look back at all that’s been accomplished and to speculate on a few things that just might squeak by.

As of this writing, 133 bills of the 639 introduced in the Senate are set to become law. Some of those include: school bus safety, comprehensive addiction recovery centers, rights for police officers, a wage assessment for rental uniforms and clothing that people may need to rent or buy for work, prohibits selling guns to a minor,  insurance coverage of public employees for chronic pain management, establishes civil action guidelines for taking action against those committing fertility fraud, creates a civil recourse for those engaged in nonconsensual  pornography, prohibits a sexually violent offender from working with children, residing in a place with children or within 1000 feet from children, eliminates ingredient labeling of eproducts or vape products, establishing an Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee, and strengthens cyber security of elections.

While 177 bills from the House’s initial 699 bills are on their ways to becoming law. A quick peek at those reveal the following new laws regarding: establishes a teacher residency grant program, establishes a state perinatal navigator program, establishes a committee to study prescription drug pricing, provides survivor benefits public employees and teachers, will allow coroners to track a person’s identity through surgical implants, requires the BMV to create an amnesty program to reduce reinstatement fees for suspended licenses, will no longer treat all synthetic drug cases the same as marijuana cases, allows psychologists to use telepsychology, prohibits sex offenders from changing their names, prohibits dismemberment abortions, provides funds to help schools set up an emergency alert app, and establishes a veteran’s status database.

Of course there were also some big items up for consideration this year, some from the governor and others from political parties. The largest bill at least in size—the state budget for the next two years has passed. The Governor did get his Hate Crimes Legislation too—though some would argue without the needed teeth.  Several bills to reform the Department of Child Services will become law as of July 1 if not before and a utility bill (HB1470) was recently signed into law giving utility companies broader authority. Regulations on CFO’s will have to wait another year while redistricting is still up in the air.

If you want to learn more about what area lawmakers did during the 2019 regular session of the general assembly, you can join us for a town hall May 1, 2019 at 7:30 pm at Indiana University South Bend, in the Education and Arts Building Lecture Hall 1011. It is free and open to the public on a first come first serve basis. The first part will be moderated by our host Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, while the second half of the hour long program will be op-en for public questions. Senators Bohacek, Niezgodski, and Glick as well as Representatives DeVon, Bauer, and Dvorak will be guest panelists. For those who can’t join us in person, the episode will air Friday May 3 at 7pm.

https://www.in.gov/gov/2019billwatch.htm