Legislative Council sets topics for 2021 interim committees 

Indiana’s public defender system will be getting a closer look when the Legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code convenes later this year.

The assignment of counsel at the initial hearing in criminal cases along with the capacity of the public defender system to provide counsel and the impact of providing that counsel on jail overcrowding will be on the agenda for study during the 2021 legislative interim. Republican Reps. Greg Steuerwald, Avon, and Randy Frye, Greensburg, suggested the topics in a letter to the Legislative Council.

Ten interim study committees were assigned topics by the Legislative Council Monday. The committees will meet during the summer and fall months in preparation for the 2022 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

“Study committees provide an important opportunity for lawmakers to examine complicated issues in depth without time restrictions we face during a legislative session,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said in a statement. “As such, they serve an important role in helping us prepare for the next session.”

The corrections and criminal code committee also will be reviewing juvenile sentencing to life without parole and the costs and fees for juvenile prosecution. House minority leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, suggested these topics for study.

Also, the committee will examine human trafficking, focusing on the issues that include prevention, detection and prosecution. The topic was outlined in House Bill 1018 http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/house/1018#document-de679a50, which failed to get a hearing during the 2021 legislative session.

Rep. John Bartlett, author of the bill, applauded the Legislative Council decision to assign the topic for further study.

“Human trafficking has been allowed to grow and thrive in Indiana because the General Assembly has failed to give it the attention it deserves,” the Indianapolis Democrat said in a press release. “Now, we have the chance to really look at how it happens and how it affects Hoosiers.”

The Interim Study Committee on Child Services also will be meeting for the first time. Established by Senate Enrolled Act 301, which passed the Legislature during the 2021 session, the committee is charged with examining the reports submitted by the local and statewide child fatality review teams and make recommendations for improving child safety.

This year, topics were not assigned to eight interim groups, including the committees on courts and judiciary, on elections and on government.

Leaders from both chambers will assign members to each study committee in the coming weeks, which will meet during the summer and fall in preparation for the 2022 session of the General Assembly.

“I look forward to productive conversations between lawmakers, Hoosiers and stakeholders as we take a hard look at these issues in the coming months,” Bray said.

The list of remaining topics up for discussion can be found here.

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