INDIANAPOLIS | State legislators interrupted their summer breaks Tuesday for an unprecedented one-day session to correct errors and omissions in several new laws before they take effect July 1.
The House voted 97-0 and the Senate 46-0 to approve House Bill 1448, fixing the state's new criminal code to maintain police arrest power for all thefts, reset penalty enhancements for some drug crimes and limit jail credit time for sex offenders, as well as preserve a tax credit for natural gas-fueled vehicles.
The legislation, co-sponsored by state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, and state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, now goes to Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who is expected to sign it into law.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said in years past the Legislature typically waited until its next regular session in January to make such corrections, even though state law since 1995 has authorized the General Assembly to convene for a technical corrections session.
Bosma said the possible limits on police powers and the chances that some drug crimes would be punished more harshly and sex crimes less harshly than lawmakers intended made calling the technical session necessary this year, for the first time.
"The protection of Hoosiers, especially young Hoosiers, is of utmost importance to this body, so it was important to come back," Bosma said. "It is my intention that this does not become a routine part of the legislative process."
The legislation itself was so noncontroversial that the steps required to permit a measure be introduced and receive a final vote in one day instead of at least five, and the opening and closing routines of the General Assembly, such as informing the governor the Legislature is in session, took more time than discussion of the proposal.
Senators also spent nearly an hour feting state Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, who was defeated in the May 6 primary and won't be back when the newly elected General Assembly convenes in mid-November for Organization Day.