INDIANAPOLIS — The governor vetoed his first bill this week. Last week marked the end of a legislative session marked by party infighting and debate over "culture war" issues.
Lawmakers advanced about 20% of the bills filed, sending 177 bills to Gov. Eric Holcomb's desk.
On Wednesday, Gov. Holcomb's office reported he vetoed HB 1211. The bill would have expanded legislative oversight. The governor sent a letter to House Speaker Todd Huston saying he was against it for several reasons, including because newly added language would put $154 million in broadband projects at risk.
Conservative lawmakers filed a handful of bills targeting transgender Hoosiers. The bills focused on a variety of issues including healthcare for transgender children, birth certificate changes and use of certain bathrooms.
The only bill that passed both chambers was HB 1041. It bans transgender girls from playing on K-12 girls' sports teams. Holcomb hasn't signed it yet but signaled he may. Many are watching if he does. There was vocal opposition to it at the Statehouse. Some businesses also voiced opposition.
Multiple bills inspired by critical race theory debates were filed this session. They all died. The Senate killed SB 167 after a controversial comment about Naziism. However, representatives in the House pushed the nearly identical HB 1134. Senators gutted the most controversial provisions of the bill, but that didn't stop the hundreds of teachers, parents and Black community leaders from voicing opposition against it. The bill ultimately was killed in the Senate.
A "harmful materials" bill also didn’t pass, although it was on life support until the end of session. It would have eliminated legal protections for schools and libraries. Supporters said the goal was to target children's books dealing with race, sex and LGBTQIA + issues.
Bill eliminating gun permits:
Lawmakers just barely hit their mark and passed a "Constitutional Carry" bill. It died because of a deadline issue. However, lawmakers resurrected the language and put it in a different bill during the final days of session. The law will allow many adult Hoosiers to carry a handgun without a license.
Elections and voting security:
Elections were also in the crosshairs. The most extreme ideas did not pass, including a plan to make school board elections partisan. That idea died mid-session.
However, lawmakers did pass a bill to improve voting security. It moves up a deadline requiring paper audit trails for electronic voting systems. It will also require Hoosiers wanting to vote by mail to provide the last four digits of their social security number or 10-digit driver's license number when applying online.
Lawmakers almost unanimously rallied behind a bill to redefine rape to include sex without consent. Many call it the "no means no" or "yes means yes" bill. Supporters said it will allow prosecutors to take more rape cases to court.
Both sides of the aisle also supported some tax bills, including one that will reduce the state income tax from 3.23% in 2022 to 3.15% in 2023 and 2024. The bill allows for the tax to drop to 2.9% over seven years, but that drop is not guaranteed because it has economic stipulations attached.
Lawmakers also approved a bill to expand the automatic taxpayer refund to 900,000 new people. Hoosiers should get a check for about $125. The state is still working on when those payments will go out.
Lawmakers also had some fun and passed a bill to make the mastodon the state fossil.