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Local vs. state government: City Council finds loophole for No Turn on Red

This comes after state law passed prohibiting addition of no turn on red intersections in Marion County
Posted at 9:36 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 21:38:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis is taking matters into its own hands when it comes to guns and restricting right turns on red lights and state lawmakers are trying to stop them.

"It's certainty challenging, and the state has more of the legal authority here," Political Science expert, Laura Wilson said.

State Senator Aaron Freeman, added an amendment to House Bill 1050 that would outlaw the ability of the city to install more ‘No Turn on Red' signs.

However, city government is essentially using a loophole in the law to install a few more before the law takes affect.

"For local government timing is obviously everything. Because we know what the State's plan is and we know the time is coming very close to where that policy will be in place so you're looking at essentially 24 days for local government to be able to pass the legislation they need before the July 1st deadline," Wilson said.

In Monday nights council meeting, the council passed three new no turn on red intersections.

Turning at a red light will no longer be permitted at Palmer and Meridian, 22nd and Delaware, and Shadeland Avenue and 71st Street effective immediately.

Another ordinance would have restricted right turning on red to almost 200 intersections in the downtown area, but instead councilors amended the plan in order to let DPW take a closer look at those areas to determine the best way to keep pedestrians safe.

"This would be the city of Indianapolis taking additional agency and authority and saying if the state's not going to tackle these issues. The city itself has unique challenges that the entire state of Indiana might not have, It's a way for the city itself can address those issues," Wilson said.

According to the amended legislation, DPW will have to list the intersection they plan to put a "No Turn on Red" sign on its website 30 days prior.

This has been a big topic of debate among Hoosiers and lawmakers.

"It's been that way for a really long way just look left before you go right. I don't see why it's such an issue right now," Indianapolis resident Kyle Wilcher said.

Others say they think some things like No Turn on Red should be left up to local government.

"Certain jurisdictions ought to be able to decide for themselves what they want to do without interference from the state legislature here," Indianapolis resident Gareth Kuhl said.

Council members in support of the ordinance have said it is a step in keeping everyone in the community safe.

"I think one of the things we do as members of the council is make sure that the streets are safe especially safe for our folks who are walking," Councilor John Barth said.

Other council members had questions about the ordinances passing.

"The legislation goes into affect July 1st will that then preempt where we're going to pass this and in three for four weeks its going to become preempted," Councilor Joshua Bain said.

Other councilmen like, Councilor Michael-Paul Hart and Paul Annee said we should keep doing things as we are now.

"100% I agree that the way we are doing them today is exactly how we should and ought to be like every other city in Indiana to be doing them now and into the future but unfortunately that right and responsibility has been taken away from us," Councilor Zach Adamson said.

No turn on red wasn't the only ordinance discussed Monday night.

An ordinance introduced would add local restrictions on gun sales and permitless carry measures that can't be enforced unless they're approved by state lawmakers.

"Indiana is pretty interesting because we have very limited home rule for our cities. That means the cities themselves have some authority and responsibility and agency to make decisions but they largely operate under the representation of the state," Wilson said.

Senator Freeman has previously said he would address City-Council's decision if they passed the ordinance defying his law, which they did.

Freeman's office said he had nothing to add Tuesday.