Mar 6, 2024 - News

Lawmakers eye this week to end session

Photo illustration of Indiana state capitol building, with radiating lines.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

State lawmakers are trying to wrap up their business this week, ahead of next week's statutory deadline for finishing the short legislative session.

Why it matters: Gov. Eric Holcomb has already signed four bills with more headed to his desk, but dozens are still in the works and the final days of the session are when things can get weird.

  • Bills can change quickly and substantially during the conference committee process.
  • Language that died in earlier parts of the process can be resurrected and new concepts can be introduced.

Here's where key bills stand with just days left at the Statehouse:

Still working

🚧 The apartment-free compromise on the downtown economic enhancement district is still waiting for action in the House.

Making progress

🟢 A bill that would require hospitals to discuss long-acting reversible contraception with Medicaid recipients after giving birth and stock it for immediate placement is expected to cross the finish line, but not without controversy.

  • The bill's author, Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville), said she plans to accept changes made by the Senate, where the bill passed yesterday over the objections of some of Fleming's Democratic colleagues.
  • The bill originally included access to subdermal implants, like Nexplanon, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which include hormonal and non-hormonal options such as Paragard and Mirena.
  • But IUDs were removed from the language, over a long-held but debunked myth that IUDs cause abortion and a concern about the state's ballooning Medicaid costs.

Reality check: IUDs prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg, but do not disrupt an established pregnancy.

What they're saying: "I am disappointed this bill that could've been a real help to women in Indiana became a pawn to push the false claims of some," said Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington).

🟢 Restrictions on how many hours minors can work are being rolled back, allowing children ages 14-17 to work later into the day and more hours during a given week, in a bill that passed the Senate yesterday.

  • It'll go back to the House, for a vote on the changes made in the Senate.

Sent to the governor

⏳ A bill that requires age verification for adult websites, similar to the provision that saw PornHub exit Utah, is waiting for Holcomb's signature.

⏳ Happy hours are on the horizon once Holcomb signs the bill to lift the prohibition on time-limited alcoholic drink specials.

Signed into law

✅ Holcomb signed a bill voiding local ordinances against the retail sale of dogs, like one passed last year in Indianapolis.

  • The bill sets state regulations for pet stores, dog breeders and animal rescues, but critics say it protects puppy mills.

Dead

☠️ The Blue Line lives because a bill that would have put a one-year moratorium on dedicated lanes used in IndyGo's bus rapid transit system died after Statehouse leaders struck a deal with the public transportation agency.

Potentially undead

🧟 Legislation aiming to check some of the power of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the quasi-public agency at the center of the fight over land use and water rights in Boone County's LEAP District, wasn't taken up in the second half of the session.

  • But leaders last week left open the door that the language could get resurrected into another bill.
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