Get Ready: 2012 Legislative Session Begins
Indiana Senate chambers
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The 2012 session of lawmaking starts Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse.
It’s a so-called short session because legislators do not need to craft a state budget, but it has all the makings of being one of the most contentious sessions in recent history.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) told the Associated Press he is planning a fast track for a right to work bill. The legislation will receive its first hearing before the House and Senate joint labor committee.
A similar proposal caused Democrats to walk out for five weeks in last year’s session to kill the bill.
Republicans do have the upper hand in the debate over right to work. The GOP holds a 60-40 majority in the House and a 37-13 supermajority across the hall in the Senate.
Governor Mitch Daniels last month threw his support behind making Indiana the nation’s 23rd right to work state.
“It’s going to be the dominating issue in the session,” said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville). “I’m really hopeful we can get some work up there and it doesn’t become such a contentious issue that we can’t get anything done.”
Other big topics to be considered this year include a statewide smoking ban, local government reform, Sunday liquor sales, and phasing out Indiana’s inheritance tax.
Numberous lawmakers have also pledged to strengthen laws allowing residents to prevent law enforcement from searching their homes without a warrant. The issue made national headlines in May after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that citizens do not have the right to resist police officers who enter their home illegally.
State Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) has said he will support such legislation.
McMillin has said he is crafting a bill which would require Indiana welfare recipients to undergo drug screenings to qualify for assistance. He’s been watching legal challenges to similar laws enacted last year in Missouri and Florida.
Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) plans to file a bill which would mandate that cursive writing be taught in Indiana public schools.
Leising has also proposed legislation to require that Indiana public school basketball teams can only participate in single-class postseason tournaments, thus eliminating class-divided basketball which the Indiana High School Athletic Association switched to in 1997.
Lawmakers have 10 weeks to complete their work as the 2012 session is scheduled to end March 14.