By Christina Ramey
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb got almost everything he wanted from the 2017 legislation session but now he’s faced with the decision on whether to sign the two most controversial bills of the session.
Holcomb held a news conference Tuesday to talk about his legislative successes, including doubling the money for pre-K, pay raises for state police officers and funding for economic plans.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, talks about his plan of action for Indiana and the bills he plans on signing.
Photo by Lucas Lloyd, TheStatehouseFile.com
He talked briefly about how he’s still considering both the Ricker’s bill and the solar bill. The Ricker’s bill aims to close a loophole in alcohol laws governing who can sell cold beer. Ricker’s convenience stores received a permit that allows them to sell carry-out cold beer after adding tables and chairs as well as made-to-order food.
The solar bill would decrease the amount of money that would be credited toward individuals who use solar panels to gather electricity. Opponents say the legislation would discourage a new industry in its infancy. The utilities argue they must pay solar power generators more for their energy than it would cost to generate themselves.
Holcomb declined to comment on either bill until he’s made a decision.
Thursday, the governor will sign both the budget and the road funding bills alongside House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long.
“The Speaker commented that he wanted to smell asphalt in July,” Holcomb said.
In addition to road funding, the budget includes a $10 million increase in pre-K spending, giving the state a total of $20 million to expand access across the state.
The budget also provides $10.55 million for funding economic projects, such as encouraging direct flights to Indiana and developing a new port on the Ohio River.
State police officers will receive a pay raise by 10 percent in 2018 and then an additional 14 percent in 2019.
While the governor couldn’t get military pensions income exempt, the budget remains veteran friendly. Veterans groups requested the funds go toward programs that would help homeless veterans and those with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Holcomb has already signed about 180 bills into law, including a bill that would require a minor to notify and get proof of consent from their parents before being able to get an abortion. The bill would also require that the courts to notify parents of the minor’s decision to pursue a judicial bypass unless the judge thinks that it is unsafe to do so.
“I see it as a parental rights issue,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb plans to sign a bill that would make it legal to use cannabidiol for patients suffering from treatment-resistant epilepsy. He also intends to sign a bill that will allow legislative staff to carry guns in the Statehouse.
Holcomb still has dozens bills to review by the end of next week.
Christina Ramey is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.