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. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

      2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

      3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

      4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

      5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.