Indiana News

Hot topics for Hoosiers ahead of legislative session

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- After hearing Indiana lawmakers talk about their goals and priorities for the 2019 legislative session, News 8 asked a political expert about what's important to Hoosiers outside the Statehouse.

Many of Indiana's top lawmakers named school safety and security among their 2019 priorities.

Kristina Horn Sheeler, executive associate dean at IUPUI Honors College, and said the issue is important to other Hoosiers, too, but the way residents believe it should be handled depends largely on their political affiliation.

"Those on one side of the aisle are proponents of gun reform, gun control issues, more background checks. Depending how you fall on those sorts of issues, that might be the way to go," Sheeler explained. "Others are, of course, advocates of more security in the schools, arming those individuals in the schools. Putting veterans and more police officers in the schools. I think that's going to be a tough debate." 

Legislators will also likely debate proposals to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

The Indiana Chamber does not support efforts to legalize marijuana, nor does the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. Democrats want legalizing medical marijuana to be considered a priority. Republican State Rep. Jim Lucas also wants his medical marijuana bill to pass. Sheeler said she has heard people talk about CBD oil, which comes from cannabis and officially became legal earlier this year.

"They are indicating it's helping with pain, it's helping with sleep problems. There does seem to be some health benefit to those individuals with CBD oil. Perhaps that's the way into that conversation about medical marijuana," Sheeler said.

Some lawmakers are also talking about how to end Indiana's opioid crisis. 

"Yes, I do hear everyday individuals are talking about drug use as it relates to public health," Sheeler explained. "Often, it's talked about in an economic way. In other words 'Are we going to be taxed at a higher rate in order to address some of these issues?'" 

Sheeler said people are also talking about teacher pay. Most top lawmakers say they want to give teachers a raise in 2019.

One thing Sheeler says she hasn't heard many people speak about is a hate crime law, which Gov. Eric Holcomb has mentioned as a priority for 2019.

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