INDIANAPOLIS – Some official state documents would be limited to English-only versions under a bill passed 63-26 Monday by the Indiana House.
Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, said state documents should not be issued in languages other than English, which is the official state language.
That is why she brought House Bill 1255.
Im a very black-and-white person, and gray issues are hard for me, she said. This one seems pretty black-and-white.
There are exemptions in the bill, including if the federal government requires that documents be offered in multiple languages.
Crouch could not give an example of a document that would be covered by the bill, though some lawmakers mentioned Bureau of Motor Vehicles forms and tax forms.
A number of Democrats spoke against the bill, including one who quoted from the 1851 convention that drafted the Indiana Constitution. That group required thousands of copies of the new Constitution be printed in German so that citizens would understand it.
Others pointed out it takes several years to learn English so some citizens will always be caught in the middle.
We ought to focus on things that bring us together, said Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.
This serves no real purpose other than to fan the flames of great difficulty in this nation.
The only area representative to vote against the bill was Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne. The legislation now moves to the Senate.
State smoking ban diluted in House
Bars and taverns serving only those 21 and older would still be allowed to offer smoking in their establishments under an amendment approved 56-33 Monday to a statewide smoking ban bill.
The House also accepted amendments that allowed nursing homes and private clubs such as American Legion and VFW halls to have separate smoking areas in the facilities.
House Bill 1018 now moves to the full House for a vote, though in a much-diluted form. It also was amended in committee to exempt the states casinos and horse tracks.
The impetus behind the bill is to protect employees in public places around the state from working in conditions that are hazardous to their health.
Rep. Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake, offered the amendment exempting bars – saying mom-and-pop bars will lose business to the ban and it makes no sense to send employees who smoke themselves outside.
Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion – co-author of the legislation – pointed out that Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have comprehensive smoking bans so he didnt think businesses in Indiana would lose customers.
This is really about the employees, he said.
The amendment narrowly passed, with all northeast Indiana representatives voting in support except Reps. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, and David Yarde, R-Garrett.
The other amendments were accepted on voice votes and no individual votes were recorded.
Public voyeurism bill passes Senate
The Senate voted 42-8 Monday to outlaw public voyeurism – or taking pictures underneath a persons clothing in public places.
Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, said it addresses several instances that have occurred in recent years in which a person with a shoe-camera takes pictures up a girls skirt in a public area, such as a shopping mall.
The states current voyeurism law covers only taking such photos inside a persons dwelling or in an area the person would otherwise believe to be private, such as a locker room or dressing room.
The violation jumps from a misdemeanor to a felony with repeat offenses or if the photos are distributed to others, including posting on the Internet.
Senate Bill 19 now moves to the House. All area senators supported the legislation.
Panel advances bill for charter schools
The House Education Panel voted 8-5 Monday to send a charter school expansion bill to the House floor for consideration.
The vote was party-line, with only Republicans in support.
Charter schools are public schools that are free from many regulations that traditional public schools face.
Indiana legalized charter schools in 2001 and now there are 62 statewide serving 22,000 Hoosier students.
The primary purpose of the House Bill 1002 is to increase access to charter schools for the thousands of children statewide on waiting lists.
Currently, only public colleges and universities that offer four-year degrees, local school districts and the mayor of Indianapolis can sponsor charter schools.
The bill would open that up to all mayors of second class cities – such as Fort Wayne; Indiana private colleges and universities and a new statewide sponsoring board.
The legislation also makes it easier to convert a traditional public school to a charter through a parent trigger and creates increased accountability to failing charter schools.