7 Things You Need To Know About This Year's Legislative Session
INDIANAPOLIS -- This year's legislative session is finally over and dozens of bills are on Governor Eric Holcomb's desk, waiting to be reviewed and signed into law.
WIBC's Chief Statehouse Reporter and Statehouse Bureau Chief Eric Berman has selected the seven biggest storylines from this year's legislative session.
1. Road Funding
Gov. Holcomb hasn't signed this bill into law just yet, but it's safe to say that big changes are on the way for Indiana's aging infrastructure.
The House and Senate endorsed a 20-year road funding plan that they say will bring in $1.2 billion annually. The plan includes a 10-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase and a new vehicle registration fee ($15 for standard vehicles, $75 for hybrids and $150 for electric vehicles). Gasoline taxes, not an increased cigarette tax, will be earmarked for road funding. and the gradual phase-in
To learn more, check out these links:
2. Cold Beer
Could another crack have formed this year in Indiana's liquor laws? If that's the case, then it's a crack Indiana lawmakers want to seal as soon as possible. The version of the "Cold Beer Bill" now on Gov. Holcomb's desk would put a temporary freeze on new alcohol permits.
Ricker's would be allowed to keep their two alcohol permits until the expire at the end of the year and keep their carryout beer privileges until April 1, 2018.
To learn more, try these links:
- Carryout Cold Beer Decision Now Rests With Holcomb
- Cold Beer Proposal Freezes New Permits, Leaves Ricker's Permits Intact Only Through March
One of the biggest priorities of the session was, as always, the budget. The Senate wrapped up the four-month session a little before 1a.m. Saturday by passing a two-year, $32 billion spending plan. The budget increases school funding by a little more than one-and-a-half-percent each year.
You can learn more here:
- General Assembly Adjourns After Final-Day Flurry
- With Roads Deal Done, Negotiators Focus on New Budget
4. Needle Exchanges
The state has already approved needle exchanges in eight counties to stop the spread of hepatitis and HIV. The bill Gov. Holcomb signed into law on Tuesday will let counties set up their own exchanges without the approval of the state health department.
For more info:
The bill, which Gov. Holcomb signed into law on Wednesday, will double the number of students and expand the state's Pre-K program from five counties to 20. The Family and Social Services Administration will decide which ones, but must give preference to rural counties. There's also money for an online preschool program.
To find out more:
- Preschool Deal Will Double Number of Students, Expand Programs to 17 Counties
- Long: Final Pre-K Bill Will Include Preschool
6. CBD Oil
Patients with certain kinds of epilepsy will have legal access to a cannabis derivative to control their seizures. Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, has helped relieve the seizures of some patients who didn't respond to other treatments. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on Wednesday.
- Cannabis Oil Bill Passes House, Goes to Holcomb
- Parents of Children With Epilepsy Gear Up for Legislative Push to Allow Marijuana-Derived Treatment
In with the old, out with the new. ISTEP, the test that urged hundreds of thousands of Hoosier schoolkids to "fill in their marks, heavy and dark" will be administered in 2018 before being replaced by the ILEARN.
The Indiana State Board of Education will be tasked with taking bids for the creation of a test that's half the length of ISTEP and easier to score. School districts will be expected to reduce the role that ILEARN exams play in teacher evaluations.
To find out more:
- Say Hello to ILEARN
- Teachers, Lawmakers Urge Ending Connection Between ISTEP Scores and Teacher Evaluations
(Photo by WIBC.)