Indiana governor signs budget, bills affecting vaping, roads, schools chief, more

April 27, 2017

Measures that overhaul the state's problematic vaping law, make the state schools chief position an appointed one and affirm the religious liberties of students have been signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Earlier Thursday, Holcomb signed Indiana's two-year budget and an infrastructure funding plan featuring tax and fee hikes to pay for road improvements.

Vaping measure author Sen. Randy Head said the law will undo "bad and burdensome" regulations that limited competition in the e-liquid market. Those rules allowed one security firm to play gatekeeper and created a monopoly in the industry.

The schools chief bill, meanwhile, changes the position of superintendent of public instruction from one elected by voters to one appointed by the governor, beginning in 2025.

The religious liberties bill also signed Thursday primarily codifies case law to ensure student religious liberties in schools aren't infringed upon. A contentious provision on prayer at school events was stripped in a Senate committee.

Holcomb and Republican legislative leaders trumpeted the bills at a signing ceremony in the Statehouse. They called the road-funding measure a plan that will "drive Indiana to the next level."

The bill aims to spend roughly $1.2 billion per year in new funding to replace aging roads and bridges by increasing the state's fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon and imposing new vehicle fees.

Holcomb said residents will smell asphalt from construction "morning, noon and night."

The $32 billion budget he also sends money toward pay increases for state police and an expansion of the preschool pilot, in addition to other education funding.

The signing comes less than a week after this year's General Assembly session ended.

The first-year Republican governor has praised the budget plan approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature.

A list of bills that have reached the governor's desk is available here.


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