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Sex ed, hate crimes and smoking age: What you missed this week in the general assembly



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The Indiana General Assembly is about halfway through its session, which is scheduled to end March 14. As it heads into the second half, bills that were passed in the State Senate or House, will make their way through the opposite chamber. Here’s what you missed this week at the Indiana Statehouse.

Sex Ed

A bill that would require school corporations to get written consent from parents before teaching about human sexuality passed through the Senate Tuesday. The bill defines “human sexuality” as including sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 65 would also prohibit the school corporation from teaching sexual education without first receiving written consent.

The bill passed 37–12 Tuesday and will now head to the House.

Hate crimes

Indiana lawmakers decided Tuesday not to hear a hate crime bill this session.

State legislators said they could not agree on language for Senate Bill 418. GOP party leadership decided not to hear the bill in committee. 

The bill would have made a crime committed on the basis of characteristics of an individual — such as race, gender, sexual orientation or religion — an aggravating circumstance, which increases the severity of a resulting penalty. It would have also required law enforcement to report bias crimes to the FBI.

In a press conference Tuesday, President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said lawmakers could not agree on language and didn’t feel comfortable pushing the bill forward.

The failure to hear the bill comes after four attempts in recent years to pass similar legislation.

While the bill will not be heard this session, lawmakers said they felt confident it will be back for discussion next session.

Firearms and worship areas

A Senate committee passed a bill that would allow a person to legally carry a gun in a church property, regardless of whether there is a school on the same property or not.

Currently, Hoosiers can carry a gun on church property as long as there is not a school on the property. Senate Bill 33, however, would allow a person to carry a gun with the permission of the church, regardless of if there is a school or not.

The bill passed through a Senate committee 5–2 Wednesday and will now make its way to the full Senate floor for further discussion.

Smoking age

A bill that would have raised the minimum smoking age passed out of committee Monday and was effectively killed the next day.

House Bill 1380 would have raised the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill passed Monday unanimously through the House Public Health committee. The next day, however, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, sent the bill back to the House Ways and Means committee, citing concerns about its fiscal effect. 

Since bills had to be out of committee by Tuesday, the bill was effectively killed. 

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