Statehouse update: Abandoned houses, hemp, daycare, addicted moms and more

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Numerous bills advanced Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse, including several that were sent to the governor for approval. Here's a rundown:

Abandoned houses

The Indiana Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that will attempt to expedite the process of buying abandoned homes.

Senate Bill 422 would allow for an interest rate of only 5 percent, and buyers would take ownership of a home as soon as a tax sale is completed.

Under current law, buyers must wait a year before taking ownership, allowing for the previous owners to pay taxes and interest on the home.

The bill goes to Gov. Mike Pence for approval.

Industrial hemp

A bill to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in Indiana passed the House of Representatives. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday.

Senate Bill 357 would require farmers growing industrial hemp to obtain a license and be subject to inspections and audits to keep it.

Industrial hemp has numerous uses, including medicines, textiles, ropes, paper products, plastics, automotive factory material and building materials. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same species of plant, cannabis, but hemp lacks the intoxicating effects of marijuana.

Ten states have already passed legislation to legalize the production of industrial hemp but it remains against federal law. However, the farm bill recently passed by Congress allows some experimentation that could eventually lead to federal approval.

The bill passed the Indiana House 92-6 and still needs Senate approval before it can move to the governor.

Daycare centers

Indiana lawmakers have signed off on regulations for religious daycare centers following a series of child deaths at daycares throughout the state.

The Indiana House voted 75-21 Wednesday evening to send the measure to the governor for consideration.

Child care advocates had spent years seeking regulations for the many of the state's daycare operations, but supporters of religious daycares successfully blocked the measures year after year.

Nutritional snacks, time to play outside every day, and access to drinking water are among the proposed requirements.

A Legislative Services Agency report shows about 1,200 centers will be affected if the legislation takes effect, including about 500 associated with ministries.

DNR alcohol

The Department of Natural Resources could permit the sale of alcohol on its land under a bill that passed the Indiana House. House Bill 1116 would allow alcohol to be sold at inns located on DNR property if a permit is obtained.

The bill also includes provisions that would allow microbreweries with restaurants to also have distilleries.

A conference committee added provisions that allow bars and taverns to take down any "no smoking" signs if they allow smoking on their properties. Individuals who work at alcohol or cigar production facilities would also be allowed to eat inside the facility.

The bill passed the House 93-5. It moves to the Senate where it must pass before moving on to the governor.

Female vets

Female veterans could receive more help after the Senate unanimously passed a bill to create a gender-specific position at the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, said female veterans will benefit by getting help in areas including cervical cancer and child care.

“The veterans in the state of Indiana who are women feel like they’ve been left behind because they have a very difficult time talking to men about their problems,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Richard Hamm, R-Richmond.

Senate Bill 347 goes the governor for approval.

Addicted mothers
A bill to study the problems associated with babies born from addicted mothers passed the Indiana House 98-0.

Senate Bill 408 defines Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as the negative effects illegal or prescription drugs have on newborns who were exposed to the drugs before they were born. It also requires the Department of Health to meet with stakeholders to study the syndrome and make recommendations concerning it.

The bill allows the department to create pilot programs with cooperating hospitals before June 2, 2015.

A House-Senate conference committee removed a provision to establish an infant mortality grant fund before sending the bill to the chambers for a vote.

The bill must pass the Senate before moving to the governor.



  • Safest drug known
    Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.
  • Education is key
    Dear Jenna, I hope you take the time to research the effects alcohol has on people and society in general compared to marijuana. Grown organically the chemicals within marijuana are not only safe but extremely therapeutic. Don't take my word on it, research it yourself. CNN just had a special by dr Sanjay Gupta showing benefits of marijuana. On another note Alcohol in the US causes about 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million globally every year. While cannabis has never been linked to an overdose. Please do take the time to research this.
  • War on Marijuana
    The only comment I have about your statement is that I do not believe you can say that Marijuana is safer than alcohol! Marijuana today is much different than the marijuana of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. It has so many chemicals. We have no idea what the long term side effects of using this drug will be. I am pretty sure that a glass of wine or a beer is much safer than smoking a bunch of chemicals.
    • The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure.
      The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars. Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer. The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason? Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink? Let's end this hypocrisy now! The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less "crimes" because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune. Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it! Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

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      1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

      2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

      3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

      4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

      5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.