INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday is the deadline for all House and Senate committees to vote on bills for this legislative session, meaning bills that are not approved will not move forward.
Some bills that are at risk include one requiring a suicide hotline on student ID cards; another on the de-annexation of schools in the South Bend area, which led to discord in the Indiana House, and another allowing kids to set up lemonade stands without a permit.
More than 30 other bills face the same outcome because they are not scheduled to be heard in committee meetings Thursday morning. The two that have received some of the most attention during the legislative session are House Bill 1369, involving the licensing of firearms, and Senate Bill 141, which would cut funding for public transit in Indianapolis.
Authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, HB 1369 would take away the need for a permit to carry a gun. Instead, those who own firearms could purchase a lifetime license to allow them to take their weapon across state lines. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee since it was referred there on March 11.
HB 1369 has received pushback from various members of the Indiana State Police and from mostly Democratic lawmakers.
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, has been outspoken about his opposition to the bill.
“The people who are lawfully carrying are one shot away from being a mass shooter,” Taylor said. “Recently, several people who were lawfully able to carry committed mass murder.”
“We’re going through a pandemic right now, where people are having a lot of anxiety and things like that …We need to be cognizant of the fact that a lawful carrying person is just one shot away from being a mass killer.”
In March, there were seven mass shootings in seven days in the United States, in which 20 people died and many were injured.
More criticism was directed toward the projected funding loss that law enforcement could face. The Indiana State Police now gets revenue from the permit fees. If fees are removed, there could be a loss of up to $5.3 million in fiscal year 2023.
If HB 1369 does not make it past the Judiciary Committee, there’s a possibility that a bill with similar language could make its way to next year’s legislative session.
“While we can celebrate the fact that that bill is going to die, we also need to be cognizant of the fact that we still have other things that can come up,” Taylor said.
Senate Bill 141 would have cut funding for IndyGo, the public transportation system in Indianapolis, and would have caused problems in creating the Blue and Purple bus rapid transit lines.
SB 141 was sent to the House Roads and Transportation Committee on March 4 and was heard in committee on March 24. Nearly a dozen people testified on the bill in the two-hour meeting. Another 20 people had signed up to speak but did not get the chance because of time restrictions, the Indianapolis Star reported.
“Senate Bill 141 is complex legislation with passionate voices on all sides. Despite meaningful conversations among stakeholder groups and legislators, it’s obvious that consensus won’t be reached before the committee report deadline,” said Roads and Transportation Committee chairman, Rep. Jim Pressel, R-LaPorte.