Adoption records, gun licensing reform bills to be heard this week

Hoosier adoptees will make a new push for access to their birth records, beginning with a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Chairman Brent Steele, R-Bedford, authored Senate Bill 91, which would provide access to birth certificates for thousands of Hoosiers born before 1994. The committee last session passed similar legislation that cleared the Senate 46-3 before opposition from Gov. Mike Pence’s office stalled the bill in the House.

Advocates for opening adoption records say they’re entitled to their birth certificates for health reasons and as a basic civil right. Opponents, though, have argued birth records in the decades before the mid-’90s carried an implicit promise of confidentiality for mothers who placed their children for adoption.

The bill offered this year was prepared by the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary. It would open birth records to adoptees in 2017 but allow birth parents to file a contact preference form that would allow them to decline to consent to the release of identifying information.

Also Wednesday, the committee will hear a bill that would forbid interviewers from asking applicants for a license to carry a handgun if they had ever been convicted of drunken driving and would remove “alcohol abusers” from being disqualified for a carry permit.

Senate Bill 36, introduced by Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville, would prevent interviewers from asking an applicant about prior convictions for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Indiana Code 35-47-1-2 defines an alcohol abuser as someone with two or more alcohol-related offenses, any of which resulted in conviction by a court or treatment within three years of the application. I.C. 35-47-1-7 currently lists alcohol abusers as among those not considered a “proper person” for handgun licensing.

The bills are among four on the committee’s agenda. The others are:

  • Senate Bill 81, allowing a senior judge or judge pro tem to sit as a judge in a matter in a county with more than one superior court, with the consent of any superior court judge in that county; and
  • Senate Bill 27, allowing the Marion Circuit Court judge to appoint a full-time magistrate.

The committee meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Room 130 of the Statehouse.

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