INDIANAPOLIS — Local lawmakers hope to find support for bills they’ve penned as the Legislature convenes this week.
Sen. Michael Crider and Rep. Robert Cherry, both R-Greenfield, head to the Statehouse on Tuesday and Wednesday, where they’ll introduce more than a dozen bills that will need to be decided on before the session wraps up in April.
Among key topics that will dominate the Legislature, such as the state’s bi-annual budget, infrastructure funding and K-12 education, Crider and Cherry plan to offer bills they say are important to the district.
Here’s a look at some of the proposals:
Protecting the innocent co-insured
Crider hopes to renew interest in legislation he’s proposed four times in the past. Again this year, he plans to author a bill that would protect domestic violence victims from being denied coverage by their insurance company after their partner caused damages to their property.The term, “innocent co-insured” refers to an individual who was not involved in an intentional act that caused loss for an insurance claim, such as starting a fire in one’s home. Currently, those individuals are often denied payment because they hold the insurance policy with the person who is responsible for causing the damage, Crider said.
That leaves victims with no way of recouping what they’ve lost, Crider said. This year, he’s adding a clause that an innocent person would be covered only if they agree to cooperate in the investigation. Crider said although it’s been an uphill battle, he’ll keep fighting for the bill to become law.
“It’s not the most prominent and most frequent situation, but when you talk to the people involved, it’s really devastating to for them to try and bounce back,” he said.
Eliminating gas tax
State representatives may file as many as 10 bills a session, and Cherry said he’s still deciding which bills he’ll end up pursuing.One he’s considering would change Indiana’s gas tax, paid when drivers fuel up their cars and used to fund infrastructure projects, to a sales tax.
Cherry is vice chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which is responsible for crafting the state’s budget. One major concern this session is finding ways to funnel more funding into state and local infrastructure, Cherry said.
The state’s fixed 18-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax doesn’t rise with price the way a sales tax would. As cars have become more fuel efficient, the state has had less money to work with, Cherry said.
While Cherry didn’t give specifics about the potential legislation, he said switching to a sales tax on gasoline would allow Indiana to collect more funding as gasoline prices increase.
Again this year, Crider plans to propose a bill that would give more money to the Indiana State Police to investigate internet crimes committed against children.The money would be generated by fees charged to people convicted of crimes in Indiana and would be used to purchase equipment for investigating internet crimes.
Law enforcement is always trying to catch up with new technology used in such crimes, Crider said, an extra funding for equipment would help them keep up with criminals. A portion of the funding could be passed on to local law enforcement agencies, he said.
When proposed last year, the bill cleared the Senate but died in the House.
Crider also will propose bills aimed at protecting endangered adults.One bill aims to cut down on elder abuse by escalating penalties for financial crimes committed against seniors.
Crider said the penalties in effect now for financial abuse committed against seniors are too low. His bill would create felony enhancements, which would would bump various financial crimes to a Level 3 felony if more than $150,000 is stolen from an endangered adult.
Check back with the Daily Reporter often during the Indiana General Assembly to see where key bills and those proposed by local lawmakers stand.
The 2017 legislative session kicks off Tuesday.