2013 Indiana General Assembly

Senate approves flurry of legislation

2013-04-10T19:15:00Z Senate approves flurry of legislationBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Senate voted in favor of 40 proposals Wednesday, the final day for the Senate to act on House-approved legislation.

Nearly all are now headed to House-Senate conference committees, where representatives and senators will settle on compromise versions over the next two weeks that must be approved again by both chambers before they can go to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature or veto.

Among the items approved were (vote totals in parenthesis):

• Criminal code reform (46-4): House Bill 1006 rewrites Indiana's criminal code for the first time since 1977 with an eye toward improving the proportionality and certainty of prison time, reserving prison for the most serious offenders, and getting drug addicts and low-level offenders into treatment to reduce recidivism.

The Senate boosted penalties for marijuana offenses and some sex crimes, though those increases are likely to be removed as lawmakers opt for the sentencing guidelines recommended by a committee of lawmakers, prosecutors and public defenders following five years of review.

• Drug testing (38-12): House Bill 1483 strips Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits from recipients identified as having a propensity to use drugs and subsequently fail several consecutive drug tests. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates the drug testing program will cost Indiana $2.9 million to potentially recover $300,000.

• School superintendents (26-25): House Bill 1357 allows school boards to hire any person as superintendent, regardless of whether that person has the training or experience necessary to obtain a superintendent's license. The Senate added a requirement that superintendents at least have earned a master's degree in any subject.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, in her role as the Senate's presiding officer, broke the first Senate tie since 2005 by voting in favor of the legislation.

• Apartment registration (30-19): House Bill 1313 bars local governments from establishing new apartment registration requirements or increasing fees for apartment inspection programs through July 1, 2014, while the issue is studied by lawmakers. Existing programs and fees can continue.

• Education standards (37-13): House Bill 1427 delays implementation of the Common Core Standards used by 45 other states until committees led by the Legislature and governor assess the cost of compliance.

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