What died in the 2017 legislative session

By Shelby Mullis

INDIANAPOLIS — The battles on hate crimes and minimum wage were just two hot topics in the legislature this session that failed to gain traction.

While lawmakers focused their attention on key issues involving the budget and road funding, more than 200 bills died, including a few that were no newcomers to the General Assembly.

Here are some key pieces of legislation that didn’t pass:

More than 200 bills died in the legislative session and some may return next year.
Photo by Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com

Hate crimes

Indiana will continue its role as one of five states without a hate crime law after a bill from Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, died on the Senate floor earlier this year.

Senate Bill 439 would have granted Hoosier judges the ability to consider enhancing criminal sentences if a crime was found to be intentionally committed based on a victim’s religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender.

Glick said she is unsure whether she’ll bring back similar legislation in the future, but added that if she doesn’t, someone else will. SB 439 was similar to legislation that had been proposed and failed in previous sessions.


Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel authored a bill earlier this session that would have established a nonpartisan nine-member commission to draw state and federal legislative district boundaries died in February in spite of widespread public support.

House Bill 1014 would have allowed both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the legislature to choose two members to serve on the commission. Presidents from Ball State University, Indiana University, Purdue University, and the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court would’ve chose three additional members. The eight-member commission would then have appointed its own chairperson to fill the ninth spot.

Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, did not call the bill for a vote in the House Elections and Appointment Committee, even after more than 300 people filled the House chamber in support of the nonpartisan redistricting commission.

Torr was unavailable to comment on whether he will try again next year.

Minimum wage

Two bills that would have increased the minimum wage failed to make it past their respective committees earlier this year.

Senate Bill 252, authored by Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, would have increased the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.62 an hour and eliminated the tip credit from determining the minimum wage paid to a tipped employee.

Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, proposed a bill that would increase the minimum wage of certain employees from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour after June 30, 2018.

Following June 30, 2018, the hourly minimum wage would have increased at the same rate as the Consumer Price Index for the previous calendar year.

Neither Tallian nor Mrvan were available to comment on whether they would try again.

School calendar

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, is not backing down in her effort to prohibit all schools from starting the academic year before the last Monday in August.

Senate Bill 88 died this session when it failed in the Senate with a split vote of 25-25.

Some Indiana school districts go back to school as early as July, but Leising’s bill would have stopped that, requiring them to start later in the summer.

Abortion reversal

A bill that would have required doctors to tell women who receive an abortion-inducing drug that the procedure may be reversed died in committee in March.

House Bill 1128, authored by Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, would have required doctors to provide a list of medical professionals and their contacts who can aid in the reversal process and those who don’t think the procedure is safe.

The list would have been required to state that “no scientifically validated medical study confirms that an abortion may be reversed after taking abortion-inducing drugs.”

Bacon said he will bring back the abortion reversal legislation to the General Assembly if and when he is able to receive more clinical data to support claims that the procedure can be reserved.

Food deserts

In another push to increase access to healthy foods across the state of Indiana, Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, failed again.

Through Senate Bill 277, the Indiana Department of Health’s Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity would have awarded a grant or loan to businesses in eight central Indiana counties and four Indiana regions to buy, repair or renovate property or equipment used to offer fresh or unprocessed foods to customers.

This was Head’s third effort to help new and existing business in underserved geographic areas, or food deserts, offer fresh or unprocessed foods. Head said he is undecided on whether he will reintroduce food deserts legislation.

Terre Haute Casino

Senate Bill 354 would have let Indiana’s Ohio County casino, Rising Star Casino Resort, move 740 gaming positions to a new location in Terre Haute.

The bill died in the Senate Public Policy committee after a split vote 5-5 in early February.

Senators in opposition of the bill said it would have put Indiana’s casinos at a disadvantage, giving a new casino the opportunity to do business without paying a large licensing fee.

Ford said he is unsure whether he will bring similar legislation to face the legislature next year.

Clarification: This story has been updated. A previous version referred to SB 14, which would have permitted certain employees of the General Assembly to carry the weapons on the property of the capitol building. While that bill did die, another version, SB 43, has been sent to the governor’s desk. TheStatehouseFile.com apologizes for any confusion.
To see all our clarifications and corrections, go to http://thestatehousefile.com/info/corrections/.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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