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Fate of Gary gun lawsuit in Pence's hands
2015 Indiana General Assembly

Fate of Gary gun lawsuit in Pence's hands


INDIANAPOLIS | Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is urging Gov. Mike Pence to veto legislation that retroactively terminates the city's 1999 lawsuit against gun manufacturers and retailers who allegedly sold handguns illegally.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 37-10 on Tuesday to accept changes made by the Republican-controlled House to Senate Bill 98, sending the proposal to the Republican governor who is likely to sign it into law.

The measure essentially goes back in time to prohibit Gary from filing its still-pending lawsuit in the first place.

Freeman-Wilson, a Democrat who previously was Indiana's attorney general, believes that is an unprecedented violation of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of state government.

State Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, the sponsor, said he's been told gun manufacturers consider Indiana unfriendly to gun companies due to Gary's lawsuit. He claims ending the case will lure more gun businesses to the state.

The Senate also agreed Tuesday to send several additional proposals with region connections to the governor for his signature or veto, including:

Rail crossings (approved 43-3) -- Senate Bill 27 sets a $200 minimum fine for railroads if a moving or stopped train blocks a street crossing for more than 10 minutes. The maximum fine remains $500. The proposal was changed by the House to require any fine revenue be deposited in a state fund used to pay for new rail construction.

It was sponsored by state Sens. Earline Rogers, D-Gary; Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond; and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.

Valpo alcohol (40-5) -- Senate Bill 515, sponsored by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and state Reps. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, and Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, permits Valparaiso to require holders of alcohol permits issued for the downtown historic district to receive approval from the city council regarding the "character or type of business" to be conducted on their premises.


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