Statewide News

 

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.

Indiana schools stand to lose about $56 million for teacher training and after school programs for low-income students, under proposed budget cuts by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction, says the proposed budget would be “a big hit” to the state. She says cuts would hamper efforts to attract teachers, stifle new programs under a new federal education law and reduce programs for low-income students.

The Senate Appropriations Committee made several changes Thursday to a bill dealing with Indiana gaming taxes and revenue.

Rep. Todd Huston’s (R-Fishers) legislation makes several gaming industry changes, including creating a new wagering tax on casinos and eliminating the admissions tax casinos pay.

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Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Dignitaries cutting the ribbon Thursday at a new Rolls-Royce research facility at Purdue University say increased defense spending proposed in President Trump’s budget could enable growth of the school’s fledgling aerospace park.

“You know, if the defense budget goes up, I certainly hope and expect that Rolls-Royce technology will be right there with it – going up," says Rolls-Royce North America CEO Marion Blakey. "Because we do expect that we could do work right here, in West Lafayette. We could do it right here at this facility.”

Holcomb Now Backing Federal Health Care Bill

Mar 23, 2017

Governor Eric Holcomb says he’s backing the federal health care reform bill after expressing concerns about the measure only last week.

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Nathan Forget / https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanf/

A bill that would give counties the ability to set up needle exchanges without first getting state approval is one step closer to becoming law.

A Senate committee has approved the bill despite concerns from Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Legislation that would offer high school journalists the same legal protections as professional journalists moved closer to law today.

House Bill 1130 would prevent public K-12 schools from disciplining students for expressing their First Amendment rights in a school-funded publication.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) proposed an amendment to let the State Board of Education decide disputes.

Committee OKs New Public Records Search Fee

Mar 22, 2017

 

A Senate committee approved a bill that would allow state and local government agencies to charge the public a substantial fee for lengthy public record searches.

Those searches are currently free.

A House committee Wednesday added the entire contents of a controversial bill on gun regulations to a different bill dealing with firearms.

House Bill 1071 allows people protected by restraining orders to carry handguns without a license for up to 60 days. The controversial measure passed the House last month and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.

 

Legal experts and lawmakers can’t agree on the constitutionality of a proposal that would require parents be notified if their underage daughter goes to court to get consent for an abortion.

Net Metering Bill Continues To Draw Debate

Mar 22, 2017

 

A bill that would change net metering for solar energy production got its first hearing before a House committee Wednesday, continuing to draw debate from a wide range of stakeholders.

The House Utilities committee worked through lunch to hear 6 hours of testimony from 60 individuals on Senate Bill 309.

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