Indiana News

Some Indiana legislation inches closer to governor’s desk

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From teaching teachers how to shoot a gun to growing hemp in Indiana, many bills are getting closer to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.

Here’s a closer look at where some of the more high-profile bills stand. 

Teacher handgun training

Public schoolteachers are a step closer to being able to get handgun training paid for by the state.

“It was designed by the very same people that train our police officers,” State Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, said Wednesday. “It has actually a few more hours required of the teachers and the staff than what police do when they graduate from law enforcement academy.”

Lucas came up with the idea, one that the Indiana State Teachers Association recently balked at.

“Teachers’ first priority is instruction. It is not to pack a firearm,” Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith has said. 

The bill already shot past the House, and Lucas said the measure will have hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.

Animal cruelty

Another bill getting traction is state Rep. Ryan Hatfield‘s animal cruelty bill.

“The goal is to not only enhance penalties, but also to be able to go after people who are truly abusing animals,” the Evansville Democrat said Wednesday.

Hatfield said his bill already passed the House and is on the way for a full Senate vote, possibly next week.

Hemp

Hoosiers might soon see fields of green hemp in Indiana. Congress recently legalized hemp nationwide.

A bill from state Sen. Randy Head would set up a hemp plan for Indiana.

“That’s got to be under 0.3 percent THC so it’s not intoxicating. It gives our farmers, it gives our sellers an opportunity go grow and sell hemp products in the open market,” the Republican from Logansport said Wednesday.

“I hate it,” Rep. Lucas said.

Lucas said he takes issue with part of that bill that could criminalize smokable CBD, which is legal right now. “To me, we’re going to wipe out established businesses, which is wrong, for selling a legal product.”

“There may be an amendment in committee tomorrow (Thursday) that deals with that,” Head said. “I’m not sure exactly how that’s going to go.” 

Teacher pay

“We’d like to give teachers more pay,” Sen. Head said Wednesday. “I’d personally like to be able to do that. We have a couple of bills pending right now.” 

One of those bills calls for using $150 million in cash reserves to pay off the difference between what retired teachers are owed and what the state has in the bank for teacher pensions. Republicans say that change will free up $70 million in “savings” for schools. 

Republican leaders said they “encourage” schools to use that money solely to increase teacher pay. 

“What a lot of people don’t realize, teacher pay is decided at the local level,” Lucas said. 

Rep. Hatfield doesn’t like where efforts to increase teacher pay stand so far this session.

“I’ve been disappointed in the actions that we’ve seen over this session,” Hatfield said. “So far, we do not have an adequate teacher pay bill. I’m hopeful but skeptical that we get one.” 

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