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home : columnists : columnists August 22, 2017

Final weeks of the 2017 legislative session are here

By Kathy Kreag Richardson
Indiana State Representative, District 29

This month welcomes the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session. At this point, conference committees are meeting to discuss amendments to proposals and working to reach agreements on the final form of proposed new laws. At this point, Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed 23 bills into law, including measures to help our military members, reward our long-serving public safety officials and prevent drug use in our state.

Nearly one-third of military spouses have careers requiring a professional license, including teachers. Because relocation from state-to-state is such a common occurrence for military members and their families, we've tried to make it easier when they move to Indiana by requiring the State Board of Education (SBOE) to adopt rules to expedite the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of a teaching license to military spouses whose husbands or wives are on assignment here.

According to the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, the most prevalent occupation among military spouses is in elementary education. While Indiana had a provision allowing the SBOE to adopt these rules, it was not required. With this new law, military families can be assured that the teachers in their families can move to Indiana and continue their careers.

Another new law works to reward our long-serving public safety officers by exempting them from lifetime handgun permit fees. Those who put their lives on the line for 20 years to keep us safe deserve our appreciation. We can show our gratitude for their commitment to our safety by giving them a lifetime handgun permit for free. Whether they are retired or not, all police officers, sheriffs, deputies and federal law enforcement officers in Indiana who served for at least 20 years will be exempt from this fee.

In an effort to fight the deadly drug epidemic in Indiana, two dangerous substances have been added to the controlled substances list. These synthetic drugs - Etizolam and U-47700 - have been linked to multiple deaths. Unfortunately, these are easily obtained online and have already harmed Hoosiers. By adding them to the controlled substances list, it will now be illegal to purchase or distribute these dangerous drugs in our state. Those who knowingly or intentionally traffic these drugs will face a Level 5 felony.

In these final weeks of the 2017 session, lawmakers will be coming together to pass the next two-year state budget and a comprehensive, long-term road funding plan, among other new policies. As conference committees meet to come to agreements on final versions of these proposals for new laws, their hearings will be streamed live online at iga.in.gov. The governor's office also continuously updates the list of bills that he signs into law at www.in.gov/gov/2923.htm. By law, session must adjourn before midnight on April 29.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.

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