INDIANAPOLIS – Parents who owe child support will have to pay up before collecting jackpot winnings at Indianas casinos under a bill passed unanimously by the Indiana House on Thursday.
Senate Bill 163 now heads back to the Senate, where its authors are expected to accept some small changes made by the House and send the bill to Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The governor pushed the measure as a way to increase child-support collections in Indiana. The state ranks 41st in such collections nationwide and collects only 58 percent of the money owed. The delinquency has ballooned to $2.2 billion statewide.
The level at which slot winnings will be intercepted is $1,200, and a person has to be at least $2,000 in arrears.
Its just another way to ensure that if you plant a seed, you tend the garden, said Rep. Trent Van Haaften, D-Mount Vernon.
House endorses public smoking ban
The Indiana House voted 54-44 Thursday to accept a comprehensive statewide smoking ban.
But the Senate has already killed similar legislation, and its prognosis is not good.
Senate Bill 175 would prohibit smoking in all public places except casinos.
Several Republicans opposed the bill as unnecessary regulation on businesses, especially bars and restaurants.
But Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, pointed out that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce supports a statewide smoking ban.
He also said only 26 percent of Hoosiers smoke. What about us thinking about the majority? he asked. Why are we not concerned about the majority of Hoosiers who do not smoke?
Area representatives split their votes. Those voting yes were Reps. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne; Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne; Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven; and David Yarde, R-Garrett.
Those voting no were Reps. Matt Bell, R-Avilla; Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake; Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale; Travis Lehman, R-Berne; Dan Leonard, R-Huntington; Bill Ruppel, R-North Manchester; and David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake.
Senate approves ethics legislation
The Indiana Senate voted unanimously Thursday to pass an ethics package for lawmakers.
House Bill 1001 now returns to the House, where Democrats can either accept the changes to the bill or hammer out a compromise in a conference committee.
The highlight of the legislation is a requirement that lawmakers who leave office after Dec. 31, 2011, must wait at least one year before becoming lobbyists.
It also reduces the amount of a single gift or expenditure that must be reported by a lobbyist from $100 to $50 and prohibits a state-elected official from using his name or likeness in ads paid for with state funds of any kind.
There is an exemption for communications made by the governor regarding public health or safety. And other state-elected officials can seek a waiver of sorts from the State Budget Committee for compelling public policy reasons.
Local government initiatives advance
The Indiana Senate voted 30-20 Thursday to send a host of local government restructuring initiatives to the House for final consideration.
The bill largely contains provisions that House leaders refused to hear – making its future uncertain. Some of the key proposals include:
Allowing county commissioners to move their county to a single-county executive form of government upon a unanimous vote.
Authorizing all county election boards to move to a vote-center form of voting.
Moving school board elections from the spring to the general elections beginning in 2012.
Establishing base standards for drawing legislative districts and establishing a redistricting study committee.
Bill OK’d to allow out-of-state rehab
The House voted 83-16 Thursday to give back to juvenile judges the authority to send delinquents out of state for rehabilitation if the costs dont exceed those for an in-state facility.
The provision is now in Senate Bill 149, which contains some smaller tweaks to state law to aid the Department of Child Services.
Gov. Mitch Daniels administration has resisted out-of-state placement since the state took over the costs from property taxes.
But Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said he prefers a judge who has talked to the child, parents, probation officers and others to make the decisions rather than a bureaucrat reading a file.
When a judge says a child should go out of state for the safety of the kid and the betterment of the kid, it shouldnt be taken lightly, he said.
The bill returns to the Senate for negotiation in conference committee.
The only area lawmakers to vote no were Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, and Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake.