INDIANAPOLIS—For this year’s legislative session, the Indiana House has 22 standing committees covering a variety of topics from education to taxes and over 400 proposed bills to look through.
That’s a lot for legislators, but it’s also a lot for Hoosiers trying to stay knowledgeable on the Statehouse happenings.
Today is the last day for House committees to complete their review of bills that originated in the House.
Agriculture and Rural Development
This committee is currently assigned eight bills. So far, most of its discussion has surrounded veterinary practices and small business opportunities. Currently, at-home vendors can only sell their goods at roadside stands or farmers markets. HB 1149, authored by Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, aims to allow sellers to conduct business virtually while also legalizing shipping of these homemade goods.
On Jan. 18, the committee passed HB 1149 10-0, after hearing an amendment to still limit the selling of poultry, rabbit and eggs.
Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development
So far, this committee has twice and most notably passed HB 1043, excluding the craft hemp flower as a hemp product.
The committee also passed HB 1191, updating what is considered to be child exploitation, stating that “it is not a required element of the offense of child exploitation or possession of child pornography that the child depicted actually exists under certain circumstances.”
The bill’s author, Rep. Michael Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, said the bill was created to fix a legal loophole that allows for people who create obscene photos to remain uncharged, just because the photos aren’t of real, living children.
With newer technology, people are able to create photos that look like children, even though the children in the photos don’t actually exist.
“It’s being used more and more frequently because if they catch it, and it’s a real child, well, there’s a victim,” Karickhoff said. “But if it’s a virtual child, then you can’t prosecute them.”
Being one of the most controversial passed bills, HB 1134 is a sister bill to SB 167, which drew national attention for comments regarding teachers being impartial to nazism made by one of the bill’s authors, Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville. HB 1134 is set to limit classroom materials and discussion topics.
Elections and Apportionment
With elections being a hot topic in the last few years, it only makes sense that this committee has covered bills dealing with election audits and voting machines.
Most recently, Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, authored HB 1173, which calls for the secretary of state to be able to determine what elections require auditing, among other election matters.
On Jan. 11, HB 1182, a bill requiring school board members to pick a political party during elections was the subject of testimony but was not voted on.
Employment, Labor and Pensions
The Environmental Affairs Committee hasn’t passed any bills yet and has met once so far.
Family, Children and Human Affairs
One passed bill, HB 1087, authored by Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Denver, pushes for the Division of Aging of the Family and Social Services Administration to employ a full-time dementia coordinator.
The committee also passed a bill requiring residential child care establishments to employ trauma-informed personnel.
Financial Institutions and Insurance
Government and Regulatory Reform
This committee is currently working on over 20 bills, many of which are controversial. Additionally, the committee is hearing SCR 2, which urges federal officials to keep the U.S. Supreme Court membership at nine justices.
HB 1249 faced a split vote, making it through the committee with a vote of 7-5.
This committee has been hyper-focused on mental health and vaccinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These lawmakers are currently assigned over 50 bills and have met twice so far.
HB 1077 was originally heard Jan. 5 and saw hours of testimony. The bill aims for permitless carry, which would allow Hoosiers to carry firearms without permits.
This infrastructurally focused committee is assigned 16 bills and has passed three.
Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications
This committee has met twice and passed two bills, both authored by Rep. Edmond Soliday, R-Valparaiso.
Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
During its next meeting, the committee will discuss HB 1314, which allows for a surviving spouse or child of a Department of Homeland Security fire investigator to receive health coverage.
This committee has met five times so far, with two more meetings scheduled. It has a large number of tax bills assigned, with some aiming to help veterans and the elderly.
With 2022 not being a budget year, most attention is focused on current policies and fiscal matters.
Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students