In the spirit of March Madness (even our Governor is basketball-crazy, in case you didn’t know), we can report that the regular season has come to a close – whether you want to call remaining actions “post season” or “overtime” is up to you. Late yesterday afternoon, Governor Holcomb took action on the last of the 177 bills sent to him by the Legislature after final passage. There were a few high-profile bills in the last batch and the Governor surprised many observers with his decisions on which of those bills to sign and which to veto.
After Holcomb’s appointed State Police Superintendent Doug Carter had blasted legislative leadership during the Committee hearing for “permitless carry” of guns – see HB1296 for the final language – many thought that might indicate opposition from the Governor and wondered if he would veto the bill or let it become law without his signature. In a statement released after the Governor signed the bill into law, Carter said, “I will work with law enforcement leaders across our state to make necessary changes to firearms enforcement as well as finding the best way to identify individuals who are not allowed to carry a firearm as defined by Indiana statute.”
Another bill with an unsure fate was HB1260. Originally a fairly innocuous bill updating practices within the Department of Local Government Finance, the bill became the vehicle for language preventing the Hoosier Lottery from moving forward with internet/online gaming without legislative approval in the final days of Session. The Governor had expressed support for the Hoosier Lottery plan that did not require legislative approval, so there was some concern that this bill might face a veto. On Tuesday, Holcomb signed the bill – just hours before the Lottery stopped sales on a ticket acknowledging problems with determining winners.
Ultimately, the Governor vetoed two bills. The first was HB1211, vetoed last week on March 16th, saying in his veto message that “entirely new and unvetted broadband language” added to the bill at the last minute could block more than $150M in broadband projects currently underway as part of the READI program. Observers also note that the bill had language limiting rulemaking by state agencies, which likely also played a role in the decision to veto.
Holcomb’s decision yesterday to veto HB1041 was a bit more of a surprise and quickly drew criticism from conservative leaders such as Attorney General Todd Rokita, US Senator Mike Braun, and US Congressman Jim Banks. Legislators passed HB1041 as an attempt to “keep the playing field level” in k-12 athletics by banning trans girls from participating on all-girl teams. In his veto message, Holcomb said the measure “falls short” of the intended goal of providing clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports in Indiana” by taking the decisions out of the hands of the IHSAA and creating the potential for different treatment in different schools.
It takes only a simple majority of both the House and the Senate to override these vetoes. The first chance for legislators to consider an override vote would be at their “Technical Corrections day” set for May 24th, though they can use any other Session day later this year or during the 2023 Legislative Session. All other bills were signed and will become law, generally effective July 1 unless otherwise specified in the bill.
We’ll be back with other updates as they are relevant in the coming weeks and months.
- We are very close to setting records for the lowest number of average daily new cases (209/day as of yesterday) and the lowest positivity rates (2.2%) since the state started tracking COVID-19 activity in March 2020. These are records we can all be happy about.
- Statewide hospitalizations are at 392, just above the record low of 369.
- Statewide, 56.8% of Hoosiers aged 5+ are fully vaccinated (2 or more doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J). The 4-county SW IN region has 170,303 (59.6%) of 285,818 residents aged 5+ fully vaccinated. If you want to get vaccinated or boosted, you can make an appointment online.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed and want to get tested, find a test site here: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): COVID-19 Testing Information
- Indiana has had more than 1,689,142 positive cases of COVID-19; 66,613 of these are “reinfections since 9/1/21.”
- All of Indiana is now rated blue (low community spread) except for 14 counties rated yellow (moderate community spread), including Gibson and Warrick Counties. (These weekly ratings will be updated later today)
- The 7-day positivity rate as of 3/14 (lags by 7 days to include late-arriving test results) for all test results is 2.2% (down from 3.7% reported on 3/9). SW IN Positivity rates are: Gibson 4%, Posey 2.1%, Vanderburgh 3.5% and Warrick 4.2%.
- The state reported 7 new deaths over the weekend. At this time 22,385 Hoosiers have died from COVID. If you include presumptive deaths (clinically diagnosed as COVID by a physician, but no COVID-19 positive test), the total is 23,300.
- Thursday, April 14: EREP AM Connect with the Post Session Legislative Wrap Up