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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - An update on some of the bills the ILB has been following

Yesterday was the last day for House bills to pass the House. Today is the last day for Senate bills to pass the Senate. Here are some reports.

"Indiana House passes abortion 'reversal,' school prayer legislation," by Kaitlin L. Lange of the Indianapolis Star. Some quotes:

Lawmakers voted 83-12 for the bill, which supporters say will provide an additional layer of religious freedom protection for school children. House Bill 1024 prohibits discrimination against children or their parents for their religious beliefs.

House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, acknowledged that students already are allowed freedom of religion in schools under the First Amendment and various court cases. However, he said the bill provides important clarity and codifies what "freedom of religion" means in schools.

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, opposed the bill, saying it could result in entanglement between government and religion.

"You can already pray in school," DeLaney said. "... But what we’re trying to do is fool with that, adjust that, make it a little stronger. And we’ll end up in the courts."

At the beginning of the legislative session, leading lawmakers did not include social issues in their list of priorities for the session, aside from a focus on fighting the opioid epidemic.

But in the last days that bills can be voted on in their chambers of origin, both the House and Senate considered more abortion restrictions along with other social issues. The Senate will have the opportunity to vote Tuesday on a proposal that would give parents the right to testify in court on whether their children should be allowed to have an abortion.

Speaker Bosma said Indiana is largely an anti-abortion state and consequently such issues can't be avoided. * * *

Here's a look at other action taken Monday by the Indiana General Assembly as it worked against deadlines to pass bills out of their chamber of origin.

The House:

Voted 66-25 to allow large animal farms to expand without a permit.

Approved a state budget that increases the cigarette tax by $1.

The Senate:

Failed to act on a measure that would enhance penalties for hate crimes, meaning it is likely dead for the session. Indiana is one of only five states without a hate crime-related law.

Voted 39-9 to limit the amount of money paid to those who sell back solar energy to the grid. It grandfathers in those who already have solar panels.

"Abortion bills OK'd," by Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Some quotes:
The Indiana House barely endorsed a bill Monday that will inform women they might be able to reverse a medication-induced abortion.

Meanwhile, the Senate also moved forward a separate controversial abortion bill.

Seventeen Republicans voted against the House measure, which passed 54-41.

“The fact that they can change their mind and rescue a pregnancy is not supported by evidence,” said Rep. Cindy Ziemke, R-Batesville.

Ziemke said she researched House Bill 1128 and spoke with doctors who said there are concerns about excessive bleeding, retaining fetal tissue and infection for the women.

“I think we are overstepping the bounds of doctor-patient relationship,” she said.

A so-called chemical abortion is a two-drug procedure that stops an embryo from implanting. Anecdotal evidence – but not scientific – is that administering a hormone after the first drug can reverse the procedure.

Several Democrats criticized the Republican caucus for continuing to pass abortion bills that are later struck down by federal courts. * * *

Over in the Senate, the chamber amended a second abortion bill.

Senate Bill 404 would require parental notification when unemancipated minors pursue the “judicial bypass” procedure for an abortion.

Indiana law requires those younger than 18 to get permission from at least one parent before an abortion. But if they can’t or don’t want to, they can seek a waiver from a judge, who considers whether the girl is mature enough to make the decision.

The bill also would require an adult giving consent for the abortion to prove to the abortion provider that he or she is the girl’s parent or legal guardian through birth records, court orders and ID cards.

Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, offered an amendment to the bill meant to clarify the notification procedure.

Under that amendment, which was approved, the girl would have to put a notice in a newspaper alerting her parents of an upcoming juvenile hearing involving her. It wouldn’t explicitly say the girl is seeking an abortion, but there was concern on the floor about confidentiality. [ILB emphasis]

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said the bill adds time and expense to what is supposed to be an expedited petition in a small number of cases each year statewide.

“We still don’t have this figured out yet,” he said.

The bill is up for a vote before the full Senate today.

"Senate approves bill to curtail solar incentive," is the headline to this AP story updating yesterday's story. Some quotes:
Much of the financial incentive for installing solar panels would be eliminated in the coming years under a bill passed by the Indiana Senate.

Solar panel owners who feed surplus energy to the power grid are currently compensated at a retail market rate that helps pay off their investments.

Republican Sen. Brandt Hershman's bill would drastically reduce that rate in five years, although it would grandfather in current solar panel owners for 30 years.

Niki Kelly of the Journal Gazette reports on several additional measures in this story headed "House OKs bill to streamline CAFO oversight." Some quotes:
The Indiana House approved a more streamlined process for authorizing confined animal feeding operations under a bill passed 66-25 Monday.

Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, gave an extended explanation of the bill to his colleagues because of confusion about what it does.

For example, he said, the bill eliminates use of the term “prior approval” in favor of a “permit.” That has created concern by opponents of the measure, but Wolkins said all CAFOs must still receive permission to be built and operate.

One provision of House Bill 1494 allows an existing operation to expand its manure facility by 10 percent without a permit amendment or notice to neighbors.

Several legislators equated such an expansion with adding animals, but Wolkins disputed that, saying the permit specifies the maximum number of animals that can’t be exceeded without ap­proval.

He said the increasing age of pigs being raised could change the amount of manure a CAFO produces without the number of animals changing.

Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, said he doesn’t care whether it’s called a permit or prior approval – a 10 percent increase in manure is a lot.

“We’re talking about an Olympic-sized swimming pool of cow manure,” he said. “Let’s put that in your backyard and see what you think about it.”

Leonard also opposed a section of the bill that reduces disclosure of past violations by operators. Right now, when someone applies for approval, they must list all alleged violations in the past, but the bill limits it to five years.

"House decrees doctors tell women some abortions can be 'reversed'", reports Dan Carden in the NWI Times. Some quotes:
Doctors soon may be required by the state of Indiana to provide women seeking a pill-induced abortion with medical advice that is not supported by any scientific study.

The Republican-controlled Indiana House voted 53-41 Monday for House Bill 1128, mandating doctors tell their patients that a pill-induced abortion possibly can be "reversed."

State Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, the sponsor, said he's researched the issue and found numerous anecdotal reports of women who promptly received progesterone injections continuing their pregnancies despite taking the first of two abortion pills.

He said women deserve to know abortion "reversal" is a "safe and effective" possibility, even though he admitted it's never been scientifically tested, and at least half the known attempts were unsuccessful. * * *

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, led the bipartisan opposition to the proposal, which she declared "bunk" and "absolutely insane."

Several "pro-life" Republican lawmakers agreed with Lawson that Indiana should not force doctors to provide women untested medical information.

"There is not sufficient evidence that this method can reverse the damage of a drug-induced abortion while keeping both the unborn baby and mother safe," said state Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove. "At this point the only certainty is confusion." * * *

A similar 2015 Arizona statute never took effect due to court challenges that are likely to follow if the Indiana proposal becomes law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 28, 2017 10:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Government