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Proposed bills up for discussion in 2016 session

Posted at 12:46 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 21:23:26-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Within 24 hours of Indianapolis’ first homicide of the year, and on the day President Barack Obama announced new executive actions aimed to reduce gun violence, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives introduced two new gun-related bills sure to draw controversy in the state.

One bill, HB 1056, would repeal the law requiring a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana.

Anybody in Indiana who travels across state lines would have to get a reciprocity license.

The other bill, HB 1055, would prohibit state agencies from regulating possession of guns on site.

The bill would void the current rules about colleges setting their own rules for guns on their campuses, and would allow guns to be carried.

Similar bills have been introduced in the past -- with little success.

The bill would affect students at IU, Purdue, Ball State, IUPUI, Ivy Tech, Vincennes and the University of Southern Indiana.

The legislation wouldn’t apply to private universities.

Both bills were authored by Republican Rep. Jim Lucas, who authored similar bills last year.

There are many other new items up for discussion as the legislative session kicked off, but here are four more of the more interesting or controversial ones.

Senate Bill No. 8 - Sunday alcohol sales

This bill, among other things, would change one word in Indiana law, but change a lot of things for Hoosiers wanting to buy alcohol on Sundays.

The bill would allow alcohol to be sold on Sundays in Indiana, something that has been argued for years in the state.

PREVIOUS | Sunday alcohol sales bill declared dead

The bill was authored by Republican Sen. Pete Miller, who represents Putnam and Hendricks counties.

Senate Bill No. 35 - Restrooms in schools

SB 35 would add a section to the Indiana code about school restrooms, making it against the law for a person to enter a school’s restroom, locker room or shower room of the opposite gender.

It also states that each school facility must be designated for either male students only or female students only. It would also define female as somebody who is either born female or has at least one X chromosome and no Y chromosome, and male as somebody who is either born male or has at least one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

This bill has already drawn criticism from LGBT groups.

Anybody found in violation of the law would be committing a Class A misdemeanor and would face up to one year in jail with fines up to $5,000. Any student in violation wouldn’t face the criminal charges, but it’s on the school to make sure it has separate bathrooms.

It also wouldn’t be valid if the person was entering for custodial reasons, performing medical assistance or accompanying a child less than 8 years old.

The bill was authored by Republican Sen. Jim Tomes, who represents Posey, Gibson and Vanderburgh counties.

Senate Bill 36 - Considering drunken driving convictions with gun permits

Prevents somebody from being questioned about previous convictions for drunken driving when attempting to get a license to carry a handgun

This bill would make it against the law to ask somebody if they’ve had previous convictions for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

This includes in person or on an application form. Currently, somebody who is considered an “alcohol abuser,” meaning somebody who’s had two or more alcohol-related offenses, one of which occurring in the past three years, would be unable to get a license to carry a handgun.

This bill was also authored by Tomes.

Senate Bill No. 79 - Using cell phone while driving

Should this bill become law, it would be illegal for anybody over 21 years old to use a phone while driving.

That includes texting, emailing or being on social media.

Currently, it is only illegal to type, send or receive texts or emails for anybody older than 20.

The exceptions for this would be if somebody is:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Using GPS on their phone
  • Using it to try and find a gas station

This bill was also authored by Miller.

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