Statehouse employees will be able to carry guns at the Statehouse, people with epilepsy will be able to use marijuana-derived oil as medicine and parents will see a modest increase in abortion notification rights when it comes to their minor children, under measures Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday said he will sign into law.
The Indiana Republican announced his intention to act on some of the more controversial bills this session in a news conference as he took a victory lap for getting many of his priorities approved by the Legislature. Among those are an expansion of the state's preschool pilot program and a comprehensive infrastructure funding plan.
"In January when I took office, I asked the General Assembly to provide me and the lieutenant governor with the tools necessary to govern aggressively," Holcomb said. "… In short, the Legislature over delivered."
He also made his first public comments on his request for a last-minute addition to the budget allowing anonymity for companies supplying lethal injection drugs.
The provision first appeared in a budget draft released early Friday and did not go through a committee process in either chamber. The commissioner of the Department of Correction said in an earlier statement that some of the drugs necessary to carry out an execution were either expired or approaching their expiration date.
"The state decided long ago that we support the death penalty. And we have to be prepared — I have to be prepared — to administer it," Holcomb said Tuesday. "As it stands right now, I learned during the session: we are not."
Lawmakers adjourned early Saturday after signing off on a two-year budget. There are still more than 100 bills Holcomb will need to act on by May 6.
He refused to say Tuesday whether he'll sign bills limiting which businesses can sell cold beer and eliminating much of the current financial incentive for installing solar panels. He did say he plans to sign bills affirming student religious liberties and allowing a state takeover of Gary and Muncie school districts amid large amounts of debt.
The NRA-backed gun bill Holcomb also said he will sign allows employees of the Senate, House, Legislative Services Agency and Indiana Lobby Registration Commission to be armed in the Statehouse.
Holcomb said those employees often stay late and may have to walk blocks away after work.
"I can sympathize with someone who wants to be able to protect themselves," he said.
His announcements touched on some of the most contentious issues this session, including the bill allowing substances containing cannabidiol, or CBD, as treatment for some forms of epilepsy.
Some feared it could open the door to legalizing medical marijuana — a notion Holcomb tossed aside Tuesday, saying the bill was about "empathy."
"This does not put us on a slippery slope to legalizing marijuana," he said. "Quite the contrary."
The abortion notification bill also drew some harsh criticisms during the legislative process, but was heavily revised over the course of the session.
The measure makes it tougher for a girl under the age of 18 to have an abortion without her parents knowing about it. It requires a judge considering giving a minor permission to have an abortion to also consider whether her parents should receive notification of her pursuit of the so-called "judicial bypass."
Holcomb said he sees it as a "parental rights issue."