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Indiana Legislative Update – Cheers to Being Well Informed for Holiday Discussions      

The 2024 legislative session is scheduled to begin January 8th with House and Senate leadership consistently stating the session will be fast and lean. Many are eager to get started on campaigning as early in the spring as possible; including the multiple candidates for governor. 

Historically, the non-budget or “short” session is used for legislation that is truly necessary, though it has become common for the total number of bills filed to be near the same as a budget session. With a compressed timeline – bills need to pass their body of origin by February 5th (House deadline) or 6th (Senate deadline) – there will be a reduced number of bills passed out of committee.

Approximately one month later, in early March, Conference Committees will be working to hammer out final details for bills that may still have a chance to pass. By statute, the legislature must adjourn no later than March 14. 

We reported in November the priorities outlined for 2024 by the House and Senate leadership during Organization Day. Last week, Governor Holcomb shared a sneak peek at some of his plans for the upcoming Session with a plan to fully outline his priorities on January 8th. 

With campaigns in full swing, the Indiana Gubernatorial used Denton’s Legislative Conference on Wednesday to share a platform to share their views. Braun joined via a pre-recorded video, with Chambers, Crouch, Doden and Hill all in person at the event held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

In DC this week, Indiana lawmakers voted along party lines as seven House Republicans voted in favor of an impeachment inquiry of President Biden, and two Democrats staunchly opposed, calling the measure a “sham impeachment stunt for political revenge” on the same day Hunter Biden ignored a House Oversight Committee subpoena.  

And a Madison County couple made headlines as they petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the future of their minor transgender child after the Indiana Dept of Child Services removed the 16 year old from their home. The issue at hand is whether parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit and whether a court order restricting them from speaking to their child about sex and gender violates their right to free speech. The issue of parental rights has become a watershed movement in recent years at the Indiana Statehouse.  

We’ll be taking the next two Fridays off to enjoy the holidays, but should our fellow political junkies need a fix over the holidays, the Rideout Public Affairs team, known by all for our wit, sarcasm and integrity, provides for your reading pleasure: The Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly, published by Justin E. Walsh in 1987.  The internet archive offers free access to 832 pages of scintillating inside information and may be borrowed by the hour and renewable, pending availability, of course (because it is no doubt a hot commodity over the holidays). It is the first history of any legislature in the nation and will take you on the journey of the Indiana legislature and the challenges the state has faced from early years of statehood in 1816 to the establishment of Unigov. As you make your way through this page-turner, you will learn in pioneer times, Indiana’s first 35 general assemblies met annually until the practice was suspended for 120 years. Then on page 607, you’ll read that in November 1970, during the time of the Nixon administration, Hoosier voters ratified an amendment to the Indiana state constitution empowering the General Assembly to set the length and frequency of its own sessions. Unlike many states moving toward a full-time legislature, Indiana “moved cautiously, setting statutory limits” for the long and short sessions preferring to maintain a “citizen legislature” rather than a body of full time politicians. Statehouse reporter Edward Ziegner said the first short session was, “A bad session in every way a session can be bad,” and claimed the change was bitterly received and at its close, “unloved, unmourned, and cursed even by some of its own members” with immediate cries that the newly reinstated short sessions were a “lousy idea”, a time-honored tradition that still exists today. We can revisit this in March 2024, to see if this short session is better or worse than the bar set then.