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Committees wrapping up business

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With legislative deadlines fast approaching for the Indiana General Assembly, lawmakers have reached crunch time in moving legislation through for consideration before the short session comes to a close.

Legislative committees must move legislation on by early next week in order for it to survive and be considered for final passage. In anticipation, key committees have been doubling up on some meeting times to consider issues that may impact the state's legal community.

The Senate Judiciary Committee conducted two meetings this week to discuss various bills and issues, such as problem-solving courts. The House Public Policy Committee also had two meetings this week - the first focusing on a bill that would require casinos to check a state child-support collection database before allowing anyone to receive large wins. Despite objections from the state's gaming industry, the committee voted unanimously to send it to the full House for consideration.

At the House Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, lawmakers delved into various bills - including two that involved the Indiana Attorney General's Office. One allows the solicitor general to be notified of any constitutional challenges filed in state courts and to be an amicus party on those cases if wanted. The committee passed that 5-2 and sent it to the full House for consideration.

The other is SB 224 that involves "sexting," a topic that is being referred to a study committee for further review. But an amendment offered and being discussed specifically relates to the Indiana Supreme Court ruling last year in Wallace v. State, No. 49S02-0803-CR-138, involving who must be placed on the state's sex offender registry if crimes were committed before laws changed and subsequently would have required them to register. Since that ruling, the Department of Correction has required offenders to get a court order before being removed, while local sheriffs' have interpreted the ruling to mean all pre-1994 offenders should be removed at the onset. An amendment introduced to SB 224 this week would require the court-order method, and while it's been sent back for revisions, the amendment is expected to be introduced Monday.

Lawmakers have through March 3 to cast final votes on legislation before returning bills to their house of origin where amendments or legislation will again be reviewed. The session is slated to end March 14.

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