April 25th, 2019
Budget Session Closes with More of a Whimper than a Bang
No fireworks, popping corks or even shouting matches a la the end of the 2018 session …For all the hot issues that were teed up for this year’s legislative session, the final gavel fell last night days before the April 29 deadline without much fanfare.
Last Minute Edits . OneZone has advocated strongly for HB 1004 , the omnibus school safety bill this session. The original bill version provided funding for some proactive mental health services for schools, but, when it became clear that very vocal groups fearing schools would be taking away parental rights were going to rule the day, that language was stripped out of the bill. The language was inserted into the budget bill, sadly, that language was again removed prior to the budget’s passing. Likewise, an amendment OneZone pushed strongly for - providing civil immunity for those that are involved with the creation of school safety plans – was removed from the bill before it passed; not for the merits of the idea, but again due to the contentious nature of the mental health services language. The bill’s author and sponsor have committed to working on this issue with us next session.

Kudos to Rep. Donna Schaibley for her efforts on practical HB 1651, the “Red Flag” bill which would allow weapons to be confiscated from an individual deemed dangerous through a judicial finding and prevent that individual from purchasing other firearms. The good news is the bill passed. The unfortunate news is that it was changed significantly, including allowing individuals deemed dangerous to leave their weapons with a designated person of their choice instead of a law enforcement officer.  And, after four years of effort , and support from myriad chambers, Indiana failed to deal with cigarette or vaping. No increase in age; no increase in tax, despite the fact that the annual healthcare cost in Indiana attributed to smoking is $2.93 billion.

Indiana’s never finished with discussing alcohol, or so it seems.  We were very interested in House Bill 1518. We liked the part about municipalities being able to obtain more liquor licenses, but we weren’t keen on their having to hold a referendum – at their own expense. Fortunately, the bill passed without that requirement. On the “no kidding” list, the bill also allows for liquor to be sold from golf course drink carts. Plus, minors can accompany their parents into a brewery or tasting room, so long as they’re wrist-banded (just to make sure everyone knows they’re 10).
Speaking of which, perhaps it’s Time for a New Conversation . According to OneZone President Mo Merhoff, growing up in Wisconsin meant taking part in a sacred, weekly ritual – seeking out the best Friday night fish fry, usually in some tiny Central Wisconsin community, where they’d find a small Mom and Pop spot with oil-cloth tablecloths, a foosball machine, a television show debating the latest Packer news … and beer. These were places meant for – and filled with -- families …and no one lamenting the possible consequences of dining in the same room as a bar. Maybe it’s time Indiana has a new conversation. Click here to read Mo’s blog.