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Through ‘blood, sweat and tears,’ Indiana lawmakers vow to finish session on time

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The final phase of the 2017 Indiana session is set to start with several key pieces of legislation still undecided.

Between the House and Senate, lawmakers will go through 190 bills. “We’ve got a long list, but we’ve got two weeks to make it happen, and we’ll get there,” House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

The final phase is dominated by conference committees. If a chamber made changes to a bill from the other side, it must go to committee.

Two members from each body will meet. If they can’t agree to changes, the bill fails. If they can, both the House and Senate must approve the proposal.

It starts Monday with the road funding bill. Both sides wants to increase the price at the pump and add vehicle fees.

The Senate wants tolls. The House wants to shift the gas tax to only go towards roads.

By doing that, the House says the cigarette tax needs to increase. “That’s a factor, and it depends on what our final decision is on the sales tax on fuel,” Senate Pro Tem David Long said.

Another issue is the cold beer sales. The Senate says a business must make 60 percent of its profits from people drinking at the business to have chilled alcohol carryout.

A House committee approved a 30 percent threshold. “We’ll be listening to a lot of people in the industry and trying to make sure that we get that right,” Senate Pro Tem Long said. “The next two weeks, on those numbers, there will be a lot of questions asked.”

The bill with the most work is the budget. Right now, there are more than 70 differences between the House and Senate version.

One issue is pre-K funding. The two sides are $4 million apart. “Sometimes it’s easy to split the baby when you get in those kind of positions, but we’ll see,” House Speaker Bosma said.

It might seem like a lot of work, but lawmakers say they’ll rest this weekend, and roll Monday. “Oh, somehow amidst the blood, sweat, tears, angst, anguish, broken bones, several aneurysms, we’ll get it all done,” House Speaker Bosma said.

If the bill passes out of the House and Senate, it then goes to the Governor for approval. If he vetoes any it doesn’t mean they’re dead. If the bill gets a majority vote from both chambers, the veto would be overridden.

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