IN Focus: Lawmakers wrap up 2022 legislative session

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been a busy week at the Statehouse as the 2022 legislative session draws to a close. Lawmakers worked late into Tuesday night, passing several high-profile bills ranging from tax cuts to carrying handguns without a license.

Officials had different opinions on how the session went. While House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) was pleased with what Republicans were able to accomplish, many Democrats say there was too much focus on divisive social issues. With several controversial bills now on Governor Holcomb’s desk, President Huston praised his colleagues for their work.

“Really proud of the productive and successful session we had,” President Huston said. “We are doing the things that will continue to make Indiana successful.”

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) disagreed, criticizing Republican leaders for their priorities. He thinks the legislature missed an opportunity to provide immediate economic relief to Hoosiers.

“There were unfortunately a lot of divisive social issues that we seem to do year after year,” Rep. GiaQunita said. “This year is particularly worse. [Republicans] I haven’t done enough in the last two sessions to invest money in the state…in the human capital and the human infrastructure of the state.

Lawmakers debated one of those high-profile issues in the closing hours of the session. They passed House Bill 1296, which allows many Hoosiers over the age of 18 to carry a handgun without a license. Governor Holcomb has not said whether he will sign it.

“I will immediately turn my attention to the careful review of all remaining laws,” Governor Holcomb said in a statement.

Despite the controversy, President Huston said HB 1296 was something Republican lawmakers had wanted to do for a long time.

“This is a bill that has been of great interest to our caucus for the past few years…and I’m certainly happy to see it cross the finish line,” said Speaker Huston.

President Huston has the support of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who rejected the idea of ​​lengthy legal battles with some pieces of legislation. He said his office is ready for any challenge that comes to HB 1296, as well as House Bill 1041. This bill on Governor Holcomb’s office would ban high school transgender female athletes from playing on the national team. girls. Governor Holcomb has signaled his support, but has yet to sign the law.

HB 1296 also received support from National Rifle Association leaders. They seek Governor Holcomb’s signature to formalize unlicensed transportation in Indiana.

“The NRA is proud to have played a key role in bringing this bill to the Governor’s office and we hope he will sign it into law,” NRA State Director John Weber said in a statement. communicated.

During this time, he received criticism from several groups in favor of increased gun control, such as Moms Demand Action. They say some Republicans in the Statehouse are tied to special interest groups.

“Our message to lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby – in Indiana and across the country – whatever tactics you use to silence us, moms aren’t going away,” a statement said. by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Democratic lawmakers have strongly opposed HB 1296. They are reportedly concerned about what the bill means for law enforcement and officer safety.

“I fight for law enforcement officers who have the right to go home every day and see their families,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D). “We’re going to be the ones talking about supporting our law enforcement across the state.”

Lawmakers also passed a tax bill with bipartisan support. Hoosiers could see a drop in state income tax from 3.2% to 2.9% over a seven-year period. But this is only if a few economic conditions are met. The reduction depends on annual tax revenue and whether Indiana can pay off teachers’ retirement debt. Senate President Rodric Bray thinks the state can easily achieve these goals.

“Over the next two years, our revenue forecast is fantastic, and I have confidence in that revenue forecast,” Senate Speaker Bray said.

Although Democratic lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, many say it doesn’t go far enough. They want to see a suspension of the state gas tax, amid rising prices due to inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This measure was not added to the proposal.

“Obviously it’s been done in the past and when needed,” Rep. GiaQuinta said. “With gas prices really going up, I think that was a big missed opportunity.”

Watch more of our recap of the 2022 legislative session in the video above.

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