INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana House and Senate met intermittently for more than 10 hours Thursday, approving changes to legislation recommended by conference committees and sending those measures on to the governor for his signature or veto.
Both chambers are set to meet again all day Friday to vote on still unresolved legislative proposals involving education, gaming and school safety, as well as the 2014-15 state budget.
The General Assembly is expected to adjourn for the year Friday night. In case of an unexpected breakdown in the process, lawmakers are allowed to meet through Monday to complete their work.
Legislation approved Thursday included:
• Abused children: Senate Bill 164 permits prosecutors to intervene in court on behalf of an abused or mentally ill child without going through the Department of Child Services or charging the child with a crime.
Prosecutors lost the ability to directly file Child In Need of Services petitions in a 2008 rewrite of the DCS statutes. The Legislature's DCS study committee last year recommended restoring that power as a "fail-safe" to prevent endangered children from falling through the cracks.
• Library study: House Bill 1116 compels the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy to study whether city councils should approve library budgets and what process should be followed to merge a city library with a county library system.
Both library topics have been a point of contention in Hammond over the past several years.
• Voter registration: Senate Bill 519 obligates state election officials to obtain voter registration records from Illinois and several other states to determine if Indiana voters are unlawfully registered to vote in multiple states.
They also must check public records for deceased voters at least once a month and instruct county election officials to cancel the registrations of deceased voters.
• Food stamps: Senate Bill 530 requires the Division of Family Resources to stagger the distribution of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits between the fifth and 23rd days of each month, instead of giving all recipients their benefits at the beginning of the month.
Grocery stores reportedly asked for the change to ensure they had adequate stock on hand and specials available for SNAP beneficiaries.
• School principal contracts: Senate Bill 402 moves the date a school principal, assistant principal or assistant superintendent must be notified that his or her contract won't be renewed to March 1 from Feb. 1.
The measure also establishes a Principal Institute at Indiana State University in Terre Haute to improve the leadership and management skills of Hoosier school principals.
• Homeowners associations: House Bill 1084 enables members of a homeowners association to obtain the financial records of the association and any communications involving disputes between the homeowner and the association.
• Write-in candidates: House Bill 1112 bans write-in candidates for elective office from claiming affiliation with a major political party.
• Switchblades: House Bill 1563 legalizes the manufacture, sale and possession of spring-loaded knives, commonly known as switchblades. It prohibits the possession of knives with blades that can be fully ejected from their handles.
• Free parking: Senate Bill 563 allows wounded military veterans with a Purple Heart license plate on their vehicles to park without paying at parking meters.