INDIANAPOLIS | State lawmakers have just one week remaining in their four-month session and a lot of work still on their plates.
Approximately 150 proposals that were separately approved by the House and Senate with differing provisions still require a compromise version to be crafted and a final vote by both chambers prior to the April 29 mandatory adjournment date.
At the same time, the Republican-controlled General Assembly this week has diligently been advancing proposals to Republican Gov. Mike Pence for his signature or veto, including:
Service member contracts (82-0) — House Bill 1456 prevents members of the U.S. military or Indiana National Guard called to active duty from being charged early termination fees or other financial penalties if they cancel telephone, television, satellite radio, Internet service or gym memberships due to their deployments.
"While fighting for the freedom of all U.S. citizens, military members should stay focused on family members and comrades, not Wi-Fi bills and Netflix memberships," said state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, the sponsor. "They simply shouldn’t have to worry about being penalized for breaking service contracts they are unable to access while overseas."
The measure also was sponsored by state Reps. Earl Harris, D-East Chicago; Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City; Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso; Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron; and state Sens. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.
Wine by mail (42-5) — Senate Bill 113, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, rescinds Indiana's cumbersome process for purchasing wine by mail and authorizes Hoosiers to buy wine from online retailers if the purchaser provides the seller his or her name, address, telephone number and proof of legal drinking age.
Abandoned homes (45-0) — Senate Bill 415, sponsored by Randolph, allows municipalities to take possession of homes declared vacant or abandoned if the properties do not sell at a county treasurer's auction. It also reinstates a $50 fee on mortgage foreclosure filings used for foreclosure counseling and education programs.
Tax sales (45-0) — Senate Bill 524, sponsored by Randolph, enables county commissioners or a municipality to ask a court to cancel the tax sale purchases of a person who buys 10 or more properties and subsequently fails to pay property taxes on those tracts.
State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said she hopes a crackdown on serial tax delinquents will stop people from buying multiple Gary properties and using them for waste disposal or other unauthorized purposes.
Water threats (46-0) — Senate Bill 312, sponsored by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Randolph, requires owners of most above-ground liquid storage tanks larger than 660 gallons to provide details about their contents and location to the state, along with a contact number in case of leakage.