By Mindy A. Westrick, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
The legislature kicked off its short legislative session on January 3. Like the Chinese New Year, it seems every session gets tagged with a headline that directs everyone’s focus. This year, unlike the others, there isn’t one single topic. The legislature doesn’t tackle the budget in the short session and was originally set up to address emergencies created from the previous long session.
Now, don’t get me wrong, our part-time legislature has plenty on their plates this year to take Indiana to the “next level.” Governor Holcomb put out his Next Level agenda in November and spelled out his plans and expectations in his State of the State in the second week of session. In his address, he emphasized Indiana’s need to develop a skilled workforce, decrease the infant mortality rate, and attack the opioid epidemic.
In addition, each of the caucuses in the House and the Senate have laid out their priorities. House Speaker Brian Bosma released the House Republican agenda which focuses on supporting a funding boost for K-12 schools, strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency. President Pro Tempore Senator David Long said the Senate Republicans are focusing on attacking the opioid epidemic, improving workforce development, supporting schools, reforming civil forfeiture laws and allowing Sunday alcohol sales. Minority Floor Leader Tim Lanane echoed the need to improve Indiana’s workforce, attack the opioid epidemic and review the Department of Child Services (DCS). Senator Lanane also called for legislation concerning redistricting reform and a hate crimes law. House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin announced his priorities to improve the lives of Hoosier families, address election reform and review DCS.
Not to be forgotten, Chief Justice Loretta Rush also delivered her State of the Judiciary to the legislature in the second week. The address, entitled, “A Hope-Filled Future,” concentrated on the extensive reorganization of the judicial branch’s administrative structure, expanding court technology, increasing the amount of training for judicial officers, and addressing the opioid crisis.
This year, just as in previous years, the IndyBar Legislative Committee, co-chaired by Lawren Mills, Ice Miller LLP, and myself, is monitoring legislation that both affects the IndyBar and practice of law as well as bills affecting each of the bar’s substantive sections. Members of the 2018 committee are James Bell, Paganelli Law Group; Kathleen Casey, Public Defender Commission; Melissa Hamer-Bailey, Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP; Logan Harrison, Anthem, Inc.; Grant Krevda, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP; Sabra Northam, Barnes & Thornburg LLP; Nissa Ricafort, Broyles Kight & Ricafort PC; and Max Simpkins, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. Full Bill Watch reports can be found at indybar.org/billwatch, or on the section interest group pages of the IndyBar website.
While the bill filing deadlines have come and gone, the bill lists are still being released and assigned to committee, as of the middle of the third week. Bills must be voted out of committee by January 30 in the House and by February 1 in Senate.
The bad news is that in the short session, the legislature moves at lightning speed. The good news is all will be said and done no later than March 14.
If you are even a little bit curious about a specific bill or the legislative process, please join us for the Lawyer-Legislator Luncheon. It’s worth noting that three out of the four caucus leaders are lawyers. In my biased opinion, it is the best legislative CLE around! Date, time and location of the luncheon are currently TBD, but keep an eye on indybar.org/lawyerleg for updates. I hope you’ll join us!