Bills on puppy sales, child labor, happy hours, firearms and more advance from House

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The Indiana Senate chamber. (Monroe Bush for Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana’s House of Representatives on Monday narrowly approved a bill setting state regulations for dog breeding and sales – including random pet store and dog breeder inspections – while overturning local bans on the retail sale of dogs.

Representatives also voted to move legislation loosening child labor laws, tightening election requirements and authorizing alcohol happy hours.

The Senate separately approved two firearm-related bills: one allowing some statewide officeholders and staff to carry handguns, and another creating a bobcat hunting season.

Rep. Beau Baird, R-Greencastle, has maintained that his legislation is “anti-puppy mill.” The term refers to dog-breeding operations focused on sales over dog welfare.

“This measure aims to empower consumers by providing them essential information about the dogs they are purchasing,” Baird said. He added that his bill would foster “transparency and responsible breeding practices.”

Democrats lauded his intent but said the bill lacked financial support and criticized its overruling of 21 local ordinances.

Rep. Kyle Miller, D-Fort Wayne, said the bill gives “false hope we’re going to regulate puppy mills” when there won’t be any funding until 2025 – when the random inspections would start.

He critiqued Baird’s description of the bill as being for “data collection,” noting that it “void(s) the local control of 21 municipalities before any of this data that we’re supposedly collecting is collected.”

House Bill 1412 passed 59-36, with seven Republicans joining 29 Democrats in opposing the measure.

Child labor rules eased

Representatives additionally approved a measure 66-31 to ease several of Indiana’s child labor laws, including allowing youth as young as 14 to work during school hours with parental permission.

Rep. Kendell Culp, R-Rensselaer, who authored House Bill 1093, said it “simply brings state guidelines into compliance with federal guidelines.”

“This bill provides protection for our kids,” he said. “It supports parents’ rights, and it recognizes the fact that a student’s education is very important.”

Not all were on board, however.

Rep. Victoria Garcia Wilburn, D-Fishers, emphasized that the bill “bring(s) down” standards — given that Indiana’s current youth employment laws are more limiting than federal ones.

She expressed concern that – because Indiana doesn’t require that employers carry workers compensation for agricultural workers – families of children who are injured in “very hazardous agricultural jobs” could be left with “staggering medical bills.”

Garcia Wilburn additionally criticized Culp’s bill as placing too few restrictions on 14- and 15-year-olds who drop out of school, calling it “contrary” to other state policies that encourage students to remain in school and obtain necessary skills for the workforce.

Elections and alcohol

House Republicans passed an election security bill over the objections of Democrats on a 67-29 vote, moving the bill to the Senate for further consideration. House Bill 1264 contains citizenship verification and data-buying provisions.

“Overall, this bill will further strengthen our elections by making sure our voter rolls are accurate and up-to-date,” said author Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola. He also said the legislation would do immigrants a “favor” because being mistakenly registered to vote can hurt their cases when they are able to apply for citizenship.

But Democrat Rep. Tonya Pfaff, of Terre Haute, said the bill would disenfranchise more voters even as Indiana has fallen to 50th in the nation for voter participation.

“Why does this body continue to treat the right to vote as a suggestion and not a fundamental right we need to protect?” she asked.

Lawmakers also passed legislation authorizing happy hours and carry-out cocktail orders, 75-21. House Bill 1086 also requires restaurants and bars to get liquor liability insurance.

Senate sends Statehouse carry, bobcat hunting bills to House

Across the hall, the Senate approved legislation empowering certain elected officials and their office employees to carry handguns inside the Indiana Statehouse and neighboring Government Center.

Senate Bill 14 includes Indiana’s four statewide elected offices: the attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller and treasurer. It would expand the number of people allowed to carry firearms by hundreds. Lawmakers and their staff have had this right since 2017.

Treasurer Dan Elliott – who typically carries – inspired the bill, according to Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, who authored the bill.

But when it comes to the Second Amendment, one must “step carefully,” said Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis.

Taylor, a firearm owner himself, said he was worried about safety – and was concerned the bill’s provision allowing the four officeholders to set their own handgun policies for their officers would spur court challenges. He added that two of the officeholders had concerns about the bill.

“I think it’s a bad bill, and a bad idea from the start,” Taylor said.

Tomes, however, dismissed arguments about safety.

“Not to pass this bill would be dangerous,” he said, adding that he recalled “the same arguments” being brought up when he led the push to let legislative staffers carry.

“Seven years – that’s a pretty good track record. Nothing happened in those seven years,” Tomes continued. “Outside this building, people shoot each other, but not in this building.”

Senators voted 40-9, largely along party lines, to send the bill to the House.

They similarly approved a bill, 40-9, requiring the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to establish a hunting season for bobcats.

Bobcats – Indiana’s only native wild cat – were considered endangered for more than 50 years, beginning in 1969. But they were taken off the state’s endangered species list in 2005, and their population has grown.

Sen. Rodney Pol, D-Chesterton, said the state should first study whether “protected” wildlife should be subject to hunting or trapping before a decision is made by the legislature to mandate it.

Author Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, said the Natural Resources Commission’s rule-making process would include county-level study and public hearings but there is nothing in the bill that requires that.

Baldwin also noted the commission could authorize hunting of as few or as many bobcats as it sees fit — “whether there should even be one bobcat taken.”

The state agency contemplated a hunting and trapping season for bobcats in 2018 but withdrew the proposed rule after it drew widespread public opposition.

Reading intervention, retention bill advances

The Senate earlier made several changes to a GOP priority bill requiring earlier interventions for students struggling to read.

Senate Bill 1, authored by Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger, would require IREAD testing to begin a year earlier, in second grade, and allow those who pass at that stage to be exempt from taking the test again in the future.

Students who do not pass must receive targeted support during third grade to help them improve their reading skills. After a full year of remediation — and three chances to take the IREAD test — lawmakers want schools to retain students who do not pass the test by the end of third grade.

Senators adopted a package of changes from Rogers, including requirements that students attend at least 90% of summer school to avoid getting saddled with an individualized reading plan and that schools report the reading interventions they use to the state. Her amendment also adds a new reason students can avoid getting held back due to poor reading abilities: if they’ve done two years of intervention and have already been retained once.

But the Senate’s Republican supermajority also – in a rare move – approved changes from two Democrats. Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis’ amendment added a retention appeals process for parents and Sen. Shelli Yoder of Bloomington’s amendment added a requirement that the education department notify parents that a failing score on the state reading test could result in retention.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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8 thoughts on “Bills on puppy sales, child labor, happy hours, firearms and more advance from House

    1. sine die (wikipedia dictionary)
      adverb
      1. (with reference to business or proceedings that have been adjourned) with no appointed date for resumption

      Example: the case was adjourned sine die

      for an unspecified time/period
      for an unlimited time/period
      without a fixed limit

    2. Sine die in this case refers to the Legislature adjourning and going home for the year to enjoy the fruits of their labor (in this case, all the campaign cash they collected from special interests) since they, despite their failed legislative efforts to the contrary, can’t call themselves back into session to inflict more mayhem.

      Funny how legislative leaders claimed this would be a quiet session.

  1. “Seven years – that’s a pretty good track record. Nothing happened in those seven years,” Tomes continued. “Outside this building, people shoot each other, but not in this building.”

    What an incredibly ignorant statement. Inside your building you prohibit the general public from carrying guns and you have metal detectors and police officers to enforce that. That’s the reason you haven’t had an incident. Nothing happened in the 7 years prior to you yahoos carrying guns in the Statehouse either. If you want to make an apples to apples comparison, let the general public carry guns in the Statehouse. Then come back in 7 years and tell me how well that’s working out for you.

  2. Special guns rules for special people!

    Sounds like a pending court battle!

    Not to mention the optics are horrible.

    “Lesser” people do not have the right to carry or defend themselves?

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