Bill Watch is a service of the IndyBar Legislative Committee. During each week of the legislative session, the IndyBar will distribute an updated report, through the support of Faegre Baker Daniels, to its members indicating the progress and recent actions taken on the bills being monitored by the association.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Yesterday was the deadline for committee reports to be adopted. If a bill failed to make it out of committee, it is now dead. Next week bills will leave their house of origin as both chambers face deadlines for second reading on Tuesday, February 2 and third reading on Wednesday, February 3. Legislators will take a break next Thursday and Friday before resuming to debate on bills from opposite houses.
Several bills regarding key issues for this session were in the spotlight this week at the Statehouse. On Wednesday, civil rights took center stage with bills being heard by two committees in response to the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) controversy from last session. Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary committee met and heard SB 66. This bill, tagged to some as a ‘Super RFRA’, would repeal last year’s RFRA law and supplant it with even greater religious freedom protections. Senator Young, who authored the bill, was the only one to speak on it in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which did not hear testimony from interested parties. Senator Steele, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, stated that “[t]he timing is incorrect. Probably next year would be a chance to have a legal discussion on this, on protecting our constitutional rights.” The bill died in committee without a vote. That evening, the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure committee met for 5 hours listening to testimony on SB 100 and SB 344. Both bills aim at expanding protected classes in Indiana. The key difference between the bills is that SB 344 does not extend protected class status to members of the transgender community, while SB 100 would. In lieu of that protection, the bill would create a study group to look into the issue. Senate Bill 344 was amended in committee. After lots of testimony from both sides of the issue SB 344 was passed by a 7-5 vote. It will advance to the Senate floor for a second reading next week. Committee Chairman Senator David Long, also the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, stated that the ultimate fate of the bill is still unknown as legislators are still determining where they fall on the issue and the parties will continue to work on the final language.
Other bills concerning the key issues of road funding and alcohol sales went before members. On Thursday, two bills regarding road funding were passed in both the House and the Senate. A bill attempting to lift the ban on Sunday alcohol sales died in a House committee meeting Wednesday morning.
Please contact Legislative Committee Chair Lawren Mills with any questions or concerns.