INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – First term Governor Eric Holcomb’s five pillar plan stood strong during the 2017 legislative session, and on Tuesday he touted his victory.
Standing by a series of signs in his office, Governor Holcomb couldn’t hold back excitement. “In short, the legislature over delivered,” Governor Holcomb said.
The posters displayed his agenda, filled with nearly all green marks. “It’s time to pivot, and execute with the plans that we have in hand,” Governor Holcomb said.
During the session, more than 1,200 bills were drafted. Of those, only 271 passed. So far, Governor Holcomb has decided on 181. On Tuesday, he signed 19, including a bill that requires parental notification when a minor wants an abortion. He’s not done yet. There are still 90 to go.
A lot of the bills were tied to his five pillar plan. The agenda focused on workforce readiness, roads, education, fighting the drug epidemic and improving government service.
A key piece of it is a 20-year road funding bill. The proposal generates $1.2 billion a year by increasing the price of the pump by ten cents, adding fees and tolls.
If signed, gas prices would go up in July, fees start in January, and tolls could come within the next seven years.
In June, Governor Holcomb said a list of projects that will benefit from this extra money will be announced. “The speaker commented that he wanted to smell asphalt in July, and he is going to do that,” Governor Eric Holcomb said.
The governor is also pleased with the budget regarding education and fighting drugs. He also gets millions to add more Indiana direct flights.
“It’s not just to London, which I have an eye on, but it is also to strengthen airports all over the state of Indiana,” Governor Eric Holcomb said.
One bill he hasn’t decided, cold beer. Last month, Ricker’s gas stations used a restaurant license to sell cold beer carryout.
Governor Holcomb said Ricker’s and the state board followed the law. But legislators want to close the loophole. “I’ll reserve all comments regarding that bill until I’ve come to a conclusion,” Governor Eric Holcomb said.
Lawmakers from both parties gave Governor Holcomb glowing reviews of how he handled his first session. Senate Pro Tem David Long said the governor’s approach is like someone you would want to have a drink with. A style the first-term governor will keep. “It depends on what kind of drink he was referring to,” Governor Eric Holcomb said. “But yes, I’m going to continue to be me.”
So far, Governor Holcomb vetoed one bill, which would’ve increased public record’s request spending. He didn’t say if more vetoes could be coming.
The clock is ticking. He must decide on those final 90 bills by the end of next week.