As lawmakers enter phase two of the legislative session, we here at Indy Politics thought it would be a good idea to provide you with a quick summary of the major bills coming out of both chambers regarding roads, meth and illegal drugs, as well as the ISTEP exam.
- House Republicans (HB 1001)
- Proves more than $982 million in state and local road funding.
- Index the gas tax and motor vehicle fuel tax to inflation.
- Increase amount of state sales tax on gasoline to roads.
- Lower state income tax rate from 3.23 to 3.06 percent.
- Increase cigarette tax to free up dollars currently going to Medicaid.
- Allow local governments to adopt a local option income tax for road projects.
- Senate Republicans
- Adopts Governor’s $1 billion in roads for four years
- Provides $430 million in local road funding. (SB 67)
- Senate Republicans
- Keeps products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient to making meth, behind the counter and require pharmacists to conduct a brief consultation with patients who would like to purchase them. Consumers who want to purchase medicines like Sudafed, a popular decongestant containing pseudoephedrine, would only need the approval from the on-site pharmacist. (SB 80)
- A person with at least 28 grams of scheduled drugs such as meth, cocaine, and other narcotics, could be charged as a dealer. (SB 290)
- House Republicans
- A consumer could purchase medications containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) without a prescription if they have a prior relationship with a pharmacy or purchase a smaller dose. A prescription would only be required in the small number of cases where a person does not have a pre-existing relationship with a pharmacy and refuses the smaller dosage or tamper-resistant options. (HB 1390)
- The House also passed HB 1157 aimed at preventing drug felons from obtaining PSE and includes penalties for illegal possession of the drug. If enacted, HB 1211 would create a new criminal charge and establish a reporting requirement for meth fires.
- House lawmakers also passed HB 1102, which would enhance substance abuse and addiction treatment.
Under this bill, personal income tax rates would also be cut from 3.23 percent to 3.06 percent over the next 10 years – making it the lowest rate in the nation.
- House lawmakers passed HB 1235, which provides that minimum sentences for the worst drug dealers cannot be suspended.
- Both causes would eliminate ISTEP and create a panel to replace the exam. The Senate plan (SB 63) would call for a panel of 18 members. The House plan (HB 1395) would have a panel of 26 members.
- House lawmakers passed HB 1002, authored by Speaker Bosma, to create the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship. Top high-school students can receive up to $7,500 per year toward college tuition, if they agree to teach in an Indiana school for at least five years.
- HB 1004 would enhance teacher licensing and career opportunities. It allows educators holding a valid out-of-state teaching license to teach in Indiana if they have a bachelor’s degree in the subject area they teach, received at least a 3.0 college grade point average and passed Indiana’s content area examination. The bill would also give flexibility for schools to provide supplemental pay for difficult-to-fill positions, such as high-demand subject areas like STEM and special education.
- HB 1005 would allow schools to devise and implement their own Career Pathways and Mentorship Program. These programs would support educators just entering the field as well as recognize and reward experienced teachers’ work beyond the classroom. Easing the transition for new teachers, the bill would exempt their salary raises from evaluation during their first two years in the classroom. Currently, state law prevents teachers – regardless of years of experience – from receiving a pay raise, if they are rated as “needs improvement” or “ineffective.”