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Committee action deadline nearing

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The Indiana General Assembly's influential judiciary committees have a packed week ahead where both representatives and senators will review a mass of legislation as deadline approaches.

This week, the Senate and House judiciary committees each met once to consider a handful of bills that involved everything from no-contact orders, judgments of foreign courts, grandparent visitation, and magistrates in the state's largest county.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary approved legislation on enforcing foreign judgments and no-contact orders by courts. The House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee passed a bill Wednesday allowing for grandparent visitation, while that same day the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would allow Marion County to convert all of its commissioners into magistrates, saving about $2 million and allowing it to use that money for local guardian ad litem expenses. The Senate Judiciary spent its weekly meeting mostly discussing a resolution that deals with the definition of marriage, but it also approved legislation making technical corrections to Indiana Code.

But this week's action pales in comparison to what both the House and Senate committees will likely consider next week. The last day the House and Senate can hear their own bills for final passage is Feb. 3, after which legislation must switch to go through the other house's committee and approval process.

That means a busy agenda for those watching legislation that pertains specifically to the legal community. For example, the House Judiciary committee has meetings planned Monday and Tuesday to discuss issues such as out-of-state placements of juveniles and the Unauthorized Practice of Law for non-attorneys.

The Senate Corrections Criminal and Civil Matters Committee has set a meeting Tuesday during which members are expected to consider 10 bills, including sex-offender tracking, bail statutes, and enhanced murder sentences. At least one Senate Judiciary Committee meeting is also planning for next week, according to the office of committee chair Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville.

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