As the legislative session heads toward its March 14 close, several bills have passed both houses and are on their way to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature.
Senate Bill 3 was approved Tuesday in the House of Representatives 91-4. The legislation makes battery a Level 6 felony instead of a Class B misdemeanor if the offense is committed against certain judicial officers while they are engaged in official duties. Battery becomes a Level 5 felony instead of a Class B misdemeanor if the offense results in bodily injury while a judicial officer is engaged in official duties or if the person who committed the offense placed certain infected bodily fluids or wastes on the judicial officer.
The bill also outlines when and where certain judicial officers may possess a firearm.
Senate Bill 339, which allows alcohol sales at the Indiana State Fair, passed 75-20 Tuesday in the House of Representatives. The bill will end a nearly 70-year-old ban on beer and alcohol sales at the fair. Indiana is the only state that continues to ban alcohol from its state fair.
Senate Bill 101, dubbed the “ag-gag” bill, passed the House 73-25 Tuesday. The legislation states that a person commits criminal trespass if, without an owner’s permission, he enters a portion of an agricultural operation used for production or any part of the real property of an agricultural operation, and causes property damage.
The bill, as introduced, allowed agricultural operators to post a notice that lists prohibited acts that may compromise the operation’s trade secrets or operations. Someone who intentionally or knowingly committed an act at the agricultural operation that is prohibited and listed on that notice would have committed a Level 6 felony. The introduced bill also raised the penalty for criminal trespass if certain levels of pecuniary loss result from the criminal trespass.
The bill was opposed by animal rights groups and the Hoosier State Press Association, which believe it is intended to silence or punish whistleblowers regarding agricultural and animal conditions.
Other bills are heading back to their house of origin after being amended. House Bill 1140, which requires the Department of Correction to create policies that provide for a schedule of progressive parole incentives and violation sanctions, passed the Senate 47-0 with amendments.
The House returned Senate Bill 27 to senators after approving the petitions for adoption legislation 95-0 with amendments. The bill, among other things, provides that the court in which a petition for adoption has been filed has exclusive jurisdiction over the child if there is a petition for adoption and a paternity action pending at the same time.