INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It is officially the midway point of the 2017 Indiana legislative session. Before lawmakers took a break, the State Senate had to pass its bills.
To get through about six hours of debate, lawmakers used props by ripping up paper. “If you vote for this bill,” State Sen. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) said. “You can take the fourth amendment and do this.”
They even belted out “Take me out to the ballgame.” It wasn’t all pomp and circumstance.
With State Senate bills having to pass, lawmakers worked on several controversial bills. The first, allowing officers to remove protesters from streets.
“If anyone thinks that we’re going to pass laws to prevent people from protesting, from demonstrating, from even marching in the streets, you’re wrong,” State Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) said.
The bill didn’t pass, instead, lawmakers voted to study it this summer. “Nowhere in that first amendment does it talk about destroying property, holding people back, and keeping people from moving,” State Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) said.
The next debate was D-N-A samples. The proposal requires anyone arrested for a felony to give a swab. “In what sometimes appears to be a racial biased, criminal justice system, DNA collection on arrest could create a racial dragnet,” State Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) said.
The bill passed, and lawmakers hope it solves future cases, and used the ongoing Delphi investigation.
“I think it’s certainly possible that DNA evidence would be vitally important to solving a case like this,” Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) said.
As the senate deadline loomed Tuesday evening, lawmakers tackled a bill that’s been debated before, abortion. This time, a bill passed that requires parents to be informed if their child wants to get an abortion.
“This is one more barrier to a choice,” State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said. “A child can’t get their ears pierced, their tonsils removed without their parents knowing about it,” State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) said.
The deadline wasn’t filled with only social issues; several education bills were voted on as well. Changing the school calendar, and Pre-K received the most debate.
When it comes to Pre-K, senators passed a bill to increase funding, but only to $16 million, not the $20 million Governor Eric Holcomb wants to expand it.
“This is one issue where we have seen a grassroots effort throughout the state with communities coming together,” State Sen. Lanane said.
As for school calendars, lawmakers debated a bill that would require schools to start in late August. Right now, some start as early as July.
“I just think sending our kids to school is nuts,” State Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) said. “Getting two weeks off in the fall, the one thing I hear dropping my kids off at the bus stop, the one complaint I hear more than anything, is the calendar.”
The bill ended with a tie vote, which means it fails for this year. “This is not just going to change the calendar for your vacation, folks,” State Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said. “This is going to change the calendar for sports, extracurricular activities.”
All Indiana lawmakers will be off for the rest of the week. They’ll return Monday, with the plan to adjourn by the end of April.