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General Assembly

County recorders bill advances

– The Indiana House voted 92-1 Monday to allow county recorders to use money from a record perpetuation fund to pay for salaries.

The fund is based on user fees designed to maintain county records.

The bill was spurred by Allen County Recorder John McGauley, who started using the fees in that fund to cover office expenses when county budgets tightened. Currently, the county general fund does not support the office.

But the State Board of Accounts frowned on the practice, saying the county must share the load with those who pay the recorder fees.

Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, said an amendment was added to eliminate fears that counties would slash the office’s budget and force them to use the fees.

House Bill 1171 now moves to the Senate.

Hunting-fishing proposal gets nod

The Indiana Senate voted 43-4 on Monday to send a proposal constitutional amendment protecting the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife to the Indiana House for consideration.

An earlier attempt to also add the right to farming was eliminated.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford – said Vermont was the first to do so with 17 other states following suit. He said hunting and fishing licenses bring more than $15 million to state coffers.

Senate Joint Resolution 9 now moves to the House.

All local senators supported the measure.

Road funds transfer bill gets OK in House

The Indiana House voted 91-2 Monday to transfer about $400 million in road funds to the Indiana Department of Transportation for highway projects.

Legislators had set the money aside last year in the budget and now are giving permission to INDOT to spend it.

Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said if INDOT waits it will lose purchasing power with the money due to inflation.

In addition to the money for state roads, about $25 million has been set aside in a local infrastructure account. Local units of government looking at a major road project or expansion can seek state help.

House Bill 1002 now moves to the Senate.

All area House members supported the bill except Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, who voted no.

Dissolution bill moves to Senate

A bill allowing a judge to expedite a divorce involving domestic violence passed the House unanimously Monday.

Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, offered House Bill 1014, which would allow a judge to waive a 60-day waiting period when a Hoosier files for divorce against a spouse who has been convicted of domestic violence against the person.

She said she remembers hiding under the bed when her father would hit her mom, closing her eyes tight and wishing she could do something.

Now as a state lawmaker, she said she can.

“I want spouses out there to know they are not alone facing domestic violence,” Kubacki said.

The legislation now moves to the Senate.

Author abandons abortion study bill

A bill to study “coerced” abortions died Monday when its author declined to call it for action.

Senate Bill 228 called for a summer study committee concerning whether people sometimes are coerced into having an abortion or coerced not to have an abortion.

Senate leadership has been trying to crack down on the use of summer study committees given staffing concerns and the fact that many times the panels don’t reach recommendations.