INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers filed more than 800 bills at the beginning of this year’s legislative session, and more than 200 of them survived to the halfway point.
This week marks the middle of the year’s legislative session, when bills green-lit by the House move to the Senate for consideration and vice versa.
Proposals that haven’t been approved by the chamber they originated in die for this session.
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Here’s a look at where local lawmakers’ bills stand.
Conviction relief for addiction-related crimes
Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, carried legislation that would have allowed those convicted of a crime related to their drug addiction to petition a judge to expunge the conviction from their record after seeking treatment to overcome the addiction that drove them to commit a crime.
The bill would have required convicts facing a drug addiction to spend 28 days in an inpatient residential treatment center certified by the division of mental health and addiction and an additional six months receiving outpatient treatment.
Upon completion of the program, they can petition the court that sentenced them to wipe the conviction from their record. Certain crimes would not be eligible for expungement.
The bill didn’t advance from committee hearings.
Crider told the Daily Reporter the proposal is bold, and he expected some pushback from fellow lawmakers. Even those the bill won’t become law this year, he plans to keep working on the proposal in the future.
Tax deductions for farmers
Status: Headed to summer study session
A bill authored by Crider and Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, would have provided property tax deductions to farmers whose crops located near an intersection don’t exceed 3 feet.
Senate Bill 265 and House Bill 1358 were inspired by a local resident’s request. Farmer Ronnie Mohr asked Crider and Cherry to carry the legislation after his brother, Joe Mohr, was involved in a fatal accident at a Hancock County intersection. Mohr told investigators he couldn’t see the truck he struck because high corn limited his visibility.
The bills have been amended, and the topic will be studied by lawmakers this summer if approved in the second half of the session.
Lawmakers would study ways they can increase safety at rural intersections across the state and incentives that can be offered to farmers who make roads surrounding their land safer, officials said.
Internet crimes investigation fund
Status: Moving ahead
Senate Bil 68, authored by Crider, establishes the Internet crimes investigation fund.
The Indiana State Police department would oversee the fund, reserving up to half the money to be given to county, city and town law enforcement agencies that investigate Internet crimes against children.
The money could be used to purchase equipment, train officers or cover expenses accrued by investigating those crimes.
Originally, the bill called for the fund to be generated by court fees paid by people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors in Indiana. That section has been stripped from the bill. The proposal now calls for the fund to be established by money from the General Assembly.
The bill was approved by the Senate earlier this week and has moved to the House for consideration. Cherry will sponsor the bill in his chamber.
Rape kit tracking system
Status: Moving on
A bill authored by Crider that would begin to address the backlog of untested rape kits in Indiana passed the Senate and now moves to the House.
Senate Bill 264 would require the Indiana Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team to submit a report to the Legislative Council by Dec. 1 regarding the feasibility of creating a kit-tracking and testing database. The report must also consider sources of funding.
During last year’s legislative session, Crider authored a resolution that urged the Indiana State Police to conduct an audit of all untested sexual assault examination kits in Indiana and report the findings and recommendations to the lawmakers.
In December 2017, the ISP released its audit, which found 2,560 untested kits in Indiana for which the reason the kits remained untested was not clear.