Indiana State House and Senate leadership was remarkably effective at protecting the status quo this year. They killed 11 bills that would have blocked unconstitutional power without so much as a debate or a vote, and gutted another promising bill by changing its intent to something completely different than originally introduced.
Here is a rundown of the bills killed by House and Senate leadership.
2ND AMENDMENT PRESERVATION
Rep. Chris Judy (R-83) introduced House Bill 1293 (HB1293) on Jan. 12 to prohibit state agencies or political subdivisions, along with their employees, from participating in any way in the enforcement of “a federal act, law, order, rule or, regulation enacted or promulgated after January 1, 2016, regarding personal firearms, firearm accessory, or ammunition.” In the House Committee on Public Policy, Rep. Thomas Dermody (R-20) refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as Chairman. Rep. Dermody also refused to hear House Bill 1056 (HB1056), legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Lucas (R-69) that would have repealed “the law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana.”
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D-2) introduced Senate Bill 123 (SB123) on Jan. 5. The legislation would have required criminal conviction of the property owner before finalizing asset forfeiture. As it stands now, Indiana law enforcement officers can seize assets they suspect were involved in criminal activity without even making an arrest. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Brent Steele refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as Chairman. Sen. Philip Boots (R-23) introduced Senate Bill 299 (SB299) containing similar language to curb asset forfeiture abuse, and Sen. Rodric Bray (R-37) refused to give that bill a hearing as chairman of the Senate Civil Law Committee.
Rep. Jim Lucas (R-69) introduced House Bill 1041 (HB1041) on Jan. 5 to effectively get the government out of the institution of marriage in the state of Indiana. The legislation would have provided “for marriage by marriage contract by any two individuals who are competent to contract in Indiana or otherwise permitted to marry in Indiana” with only a few restrictions including a ban on polygamy and an age requirement. In the House Committee on Judiciary, chairman Rep. Steuerwald (R-40) yet again refused to give the bill a hearing.
Rep. Chris Judy (R-83) introduced House Bill 1296 (HB1296) on Jan. 12. The bill declared that “all regulations imposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency before, on, or after July 1, 2016, are void in Indiana.” It would have directed the state to provide environmental protection through the department of environmental management without any federal collusion. In the House Committee on Judiciary, Rep. Gregory Steuerwald (R-40) refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as chairman.
Sen. Mike Delph (R-29) introduced Senate Bill 288 (SB288) on Jan. 7. The legislation would have empowered the Indiana state legislature to review any federal law on the basis of its constitutionality. It included felony criminal penalties for any person who knowingly or intentionally implemented or enforced a federal law declared void by the general assembly, and created a private cause of action for Indiana residents to halt implementation of such a federal law. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Alting (R-22) refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as Chairman. Rep. James Baird (R-44) introduced House Bill 1404 (HB1404) containing similar language to check overbearing federal power, and Rep. Steuerwald (R-40) once again refused to give the bill a hearing as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-43) introduced House Bill 1099 (HB1099) on Jan. 5. It would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods, and clarified many of the state-level regulations regarding the products. In the House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, chair Rep. Don Lehe (R-25) refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing.
Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-74) introduced House Bill 1228 (HB1228) on Jan. 11. It was originally written to amend the state’s industrial hemp laws to allow licensed growers to produce industrial hemp, and licensed handlers to process industrial hemp and seed without the seed commissioner obtaining federal waivers first. This legislation was passed, but the language was changed drastically from the original bill. The revised version of HB1228 expressly requires federal approval to grow industrial hemp, even going so far as to use the phrase “federal permission” in the finalized bill. As it currently stands, HB1228 does nothing more than keep the status quo on hemp.
Sen. Karen Tallian (D-4) introduced Senate Bill 209 (SB209) on Jan. 6 to set up a state regulatory regime that would allow medical marijuana to make its way into the hands of the sick. It would have made medical marijuana available for a wide variety of qualifying medical conditions. In the Senate Health & Provider Services Committee, Sen. Patricia Miller (R-32) refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as Chairwoman. Rep. Sue Errington (D-34) introduced House Bill 1284 (HB1284) containing similar language to increase patient access to medical marijuana, Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-89) refused to give the bill a hearing as chair of the House Public Health Committee.
RIGHT TO LIFE
Rep. Chris Judy (R-83) introduced House Bill 1122 (HB1122) on Jan. 7 to set strict limitations on abortions taking place in the state. It stated that “a physician may not knowingly or intentionally perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman before determining whether an unborn human individual carried by the pregnant woman has a detectable heartbeat.” In the House Committee on Public Policy, Rep. Dermody (R-20) yet again refused to even schedule the legislation for a hearing as chairman.
Although the state of Indiana has let many chances to push back against federal overreach fall through their grasp this year, hope is not lost. The legislators who refused to uphold their oath to the Constitution and killed these bills can be voted out of office. Alert your community about who is jeopardizing your rights. You have the power to remake the legislature with individuals with the backbone to protect your freedoms through nullification.
The process can be a long, hard and ugly one, but it can pay off. Many of the states that are currently passing several nullification bills each year were in Indiana’s situation not too long ago. However, activists in those states steadfastly refused to give up and successfully pushed their legislators to do the right thing. That is the future that Indiana can achieve, but it is going to take some determination to get there. Will you join us and help make it happen?