Statewide News

A House committee moved a bill to the floor legalizing so-called “baby boxes” while putting in jeopardy the status of the state’s two existing devices.

Baby boxes are meant to be a more anonymous way for someone to leave an unwanted newborn. There are concerns surrounding the devices, focused on a lack of testing, industry standards, or best practices.

Transparency portal useful, but not used

Apr 2, 2017
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IN Transparency Portal

Klutz: “I’m excited that I got appointed by Eric Holcomb because I am really a proponent of transparency and I feel like we can just get better. What do taxpayers want? What does the media want? What do taxpayers want? What do they want to see when they come to the transparency portal because I want to prioritize my time and resources in getting the data that they want.

Environmental Protection Agency representatives fielded questions over the weekend about clean-up of a lead-contaminated Superfund site in East Chicago, Indiana.

Most of the questions centered around identifying contractors, the timeline of work, and details of what remediation entails. On March 21, the EPA announced a new settlement to pay for clean-up efforts in Zones 2 and 3 of the Superfund.

Donnelly Announces Support For Trump Nominee Gorsuch

Apr 2, 2017

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) announced Sunday he’ll vote for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Donnelly becomes the third Democrat to back Judge Neil Gorsuch.

In a statement, Donnelly said after meeting with Gorsuch, he believes the Trump nominee is qualified and well respected.

Although Donnelly says he’s disappointed President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, wasn’t considered by the GOP-controlled Senate last year, the Hoosier Democrat says, “I can only vote on the nominee that comes to the … floor.”

Holcomb Gets Specific In Road Funding Debate

Mar 31, 2017

Governor Eric Holcomb says he doesn’t support shifting sales tax on gasoline dollars to help pay for roads.

The House Republican proposal shifted all sales tax on gasoline dollars to pay for roads. That’s about $300 million a year. Senate Republicans eliminated that shift. Holcomb agrees, saying he doesn’t prefer to move those dollars.

The Senate GOP’s road funding plan keeps intact a 10 cent gas tax increase, but spreads it over two years. The proposal also creates two new fees but eliminates a shift of sales tax on gasoline dollars to pay for roads.

Senate Endorses Amended Version Of House Pre-K Bill

Mar 30, 2017

The Indiana Senate approved legislation for state-funded preschool that offers far less financial support than what House lawmakers and Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb had sought.

Throughout the session, Republican Senate lawmakers have been adamant: We don’t want to double the funding for the state’s preschool pilot program.

Indiana legislative leaders aren’t certain they’ll resolve a cold beer sales controversy this session.

Two Ricker’s convenience stores, using a legal loophole, recently secured the ability to sell cold beer. That was a right reserved solely for liquor stores and restaurants.

Senate GOP Eliminates Cigarette Tax Hike In Its Budget

Mar 30, 2017

 

Senate Republicans rolled out their version of the budget bill Thursday, one that diverges from the House budget in a few key areas.

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deepfruit / https://www.flickr.com/photos/slippek/

Indiana senators are looking to add more restrictions and regulations to county syringe exchange programs, or SEPs.

Four amendments have been added a bill granting counties the ability to set up their own syringe services programs. Currently, the state health commissioner must certify a public health emergency before such a program can be created.

 

A debate erupted in two committees over Indiana’s cold beer sales law after a convenience store’s recent use of a legal loophole drew the ire of liquor stores and legislative leaders.

Two Ricker’s convenience stores qualified to sell cold beer after they started selling made-to-order food and added seating. Indiana law only allows liquor stores and restaurants to sell cold beer for carryout.

Solar, Net Metering Bill Passes House Committee

Mar 29, 2017

Indiana’s House Utilities Committee voted 8-5 to advance a bill overhauling the state’s net metering policy Wednesday.

The bill would slowly lower the amount Hoosiers receive for selling excess energy back to the grid. In 30 years, Hoosiers would receive a rate closer to the wholesale rate, rather than the current, higher retail rate.

Little Change Seen In County Health Rankings

Mar 29, 2017

For the eighth year in a row, a health survey that measures length and quality of life, places Hamilton County at the top and Scott County the bottom.

The annual County Health Rankings report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, RWJF, and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute finds Indiana’s health factors and outcomes vary by where you live. RWJF Program Officer Andrea Ducas says socio-economic factors give more affluent counties a healthy edge.

 

Stakeholders in Indiana’s vaping industry say they’re happier with legislation regulating e-liquids after more changes in a House committee.

Indiana Coal Advocates Cheer Trump Climate Order

Mar 28, 2017

Indiana is one of 28 states suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Power Plan, which President Donald Trump began rolling back Tuesday. And Trump’s move has industry advocates cheering.

The Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent nationwide in an effort to slow man-made climate change.

A House committee changed a bill that deals with parental notification of abortion, aiming to alleviate the biggest concerns surrounding the controversial bill.

Under current law, a girl under 18 can go to court to get consent for an abortion if her parents won’t grant it. Proposed legislation would have required at least one parent be notified of that hearing – raising concerns about its confidentiality.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has approved $7 million in tax incentives for the Carrier company to keep about a thousand jobs in Indianapolis.

Bill Would Track When Officers Restrain, Seclude Kids At School

Mar 28, 2017

Indiana lawmakers may require schools to provide more information about a controversial practice: secluding and restraining children.

Under state law, physical restraints and seclusion may only be used as a last resort to calm students and never to discipline. The state requires schools to report all uses of seclusion and restraint by school staff. The practices are generally used for students with severe disabilities who have violent outbursts.

House Committee Wrestles With Vaping Regulations

Mar 28, 2017

 

Legislation regulating e-liquids – used in e-cigarettes – has gotten complicated as a House committee struggles to impose rules on the industry while avoiding constitutionality issues.

Indiana’s existing vaping regulations essentially created a monopoly, forcing dozens of manufacturers to shut down or move. That prompted lawsuits and an FBI inquiry.

Senate Changes Road Funding Bill, Adds New Fees

Mar 28, 2017

Senate lawmakers put their own stamp on this session’s comprehensive road funding bill while keeping the measure’s primary tax increase intact.

After amendments in a Senate committee, the road funding bill still increases the gas tax by 10 cents. Now, that increase would happen over two years – 5 cents a year. The diesel fuel tax would only go up six cents, instead of 10, also over two years.

The new $15 annual fee for all vehicles is unchanged; the Senate added a $100 annual fee on all commercial vehicles and a $5 fee on all new tire purchases.

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles would be required to offer Hoosiers the chance to register to vote more often under legislation approved by a Senate committee.

But the bill does dramatically less than its original version.

A Senate committee approved legislation to ensure Indiana’s presidential electors don’t go rogue.

When Indiana’s presidential electors cast their ballots, there’s nothing in state law that requires them to vote for the candidate Indiana voters chose in the election. Rep. Kathy Richardson’s (R-Noblesville) legislation would change that.

A Senate committee approved a controversial bill Monday that would change the Superintendent of Public Instruction from an elected position to an appointed one.

During this General Assembly, both the House and Senate sponsored bills to make the state’s education chief an appointed position. The House passed its version of the bill, but the Senate, in a surprise move the first half of session, voted theirs down.

 

Republican congressional leaders pulled the scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act after it appeared the bill was headed for defeat.

Almost all of the GOP members of Indiana’s delegation expressed disappointment. Some praised U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan for his efforts to pass the bill – Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) says he worked hard to incorporate feedback from constituents.

A newly published report maps the ability of electro-acupuncture to release healing stem cells. The study was led by two researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

 

Rural homeowners in Bartholomew County say a big, nearby hog farm – a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO – is hurting their property values.

The county denied their bid to lower the CAFO neighbors’ property taxes, and argued the issue is too complex to codify, while residents say officials are just worried about politics and money.

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Bundesinnung Hörgeräteakustiker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/134783624@N07/

An Indiana University study indicates hearing aids fitted by a patient are just as effective as those fitted by a professional audiologist.

Currently, hearing aids aren’t able to be purchased over-the-counter. Instead, people must have a professional evaluate their hearing loss, set the hearing aid’s sensitivity and teach proper use.

Great Lakes Programs Slashed Under Trump Budget

Mar 24, 2017

 

The health of the Great Lakes is in danger, according to statewide lawmakers and environmental leaders, due to budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.

The Great Lakes are the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes and the federal government currently spends around $300 million protecting them. Under President Trump’s proposed budget, that spending would be reduced to $5 million.

U.S Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) says that money wasn’t being wasted.

The Hoosier unemployment rate ticked up by one-tenth of a percent to 4.1 percent last month. That’s the first increase since January of last year. The rate is still lower than the national average and all neighboring states.

After two consecutive months of declines, the private sector added jobs in February – 4,400 for the month. The surge was led by the manufacturing industry.

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