HSPA monitors 197 bills so far

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HSPA has scrambled to keep up with the state legislature during its first month of activity.

Steve Key, executive director and general counsel, and the three law school students assisting him are working at a fast pace to read all of the introduced bills, prioritize them, contact legislators with questions or concerns, testify before committees, and work on amendments.

Presently, HSPA has earmarked 197 bills for at least a minimal level of monitoring.

Highlights among them include:

• Rep. Matt Leh­man, R-Berne, is carrying a bill for the Indiana Department of Insurance. 

H.B. 1226 included a provision that would have eliminated a requirement that out-of-state insurance companies publish a statement of financial condition in Indiana newspapers.

Lehman agreed to drop that provision in return for a pledge by HSPA to work with the insurance department to see if the process can be streamlined to ease the paperwork burden on the state agency.

• Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, filed a bill that would allow school districts to have an executive session to discuss strategy in relation to school consolidation. The bill was suggested by the Indiana School Boards Association.

HSPA testified that the proposal contained in S.B. 259 is a fair request but is troubled by testimony of the school boards association, which indicates that organization believes the exception could be applied more broadly than HSPA’s interpretation.

• HSPA is working with Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, on H.B. 1003, which would set standards for how statewide commissions can incorporate communications technology to allow some members to participate in meetings via long distance.

Crouch successfully offered a second reading amendment to the bill that contained suggestions from HSPA.

• Sen. Vanetta Becker, R-Evansville, introduced a bill that would have set standards for the singing of the national anthem with a possible fine for failure to meet those standards.

The bill raised First Amendment issues for HSPA.

Becker withdrew the bill (S.B. 1122) while it was in committee.

• Sens. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, both filed bills (S.B. 294 and S.B. 103, respectively) that closely resembled the public access bills now moving in the House and Senate.

Holdman and Mrvan are now supporting S.B. 92, authored by Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, which would add civil fines as a remedy against public officials who deliberately violate the Open Door Law or Access to Public Records Act.