[r63] Messmer Report: Halftime Report

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Monday, February 1, 2010

We continue to move at a breakneck pace here at the Statehouse. And although the schedule has been hectic, the fact that we have been so busy in the House during the first half of session is an encouraging sign. As we look at other states mired in politics and political game-playing, it is great to know that here in Indiana, legislators are reaching across the aisle to accomplish good changes for Hoosiers.

This week we passed two significant gun bills, finally passed legislation that I have been working on for several months now, and learned the FSSA began rolling out their new hybrid system.

One important gun bill, House Bill (HB) 1065 allows licensed gun owners to keep a firearm locked in their car while at work.

Certain places of business or government were granted exceptions under the bill such as schools, child care facilities, shelter facilities and universities.  

Eleven other states protect the right of licensed gun owners in this manner. I supported HB 1065 as it passed out of the House by a vote of 76-21 last Tuesday.

The passage of House Bill 1068, which also was approved on Tuesday, was also a major victory for gun owners.

This legislation resulted from recent uproar over various newspapers across the state releasing a database of addresses of licensed gun owners in the state of Indiana.  

This bill would make identifying information relating to licensed gun owners confidential and not open to public inspection. 

I was pleased to support this bill for a various reasons. 

First, if licensed gun owners obtain approval through all of the required background checks, then they deserve to have their personal information kept private. 

Second, I think making certain information public could put gun owners in harm's way. For example, criminals could easily look up an address of a licensed gun owner and steal that handgun to sell illegally.  

Lastly, making this information public could also increase the chances of criminals targeting homes of someone who does not own a firearm.

The House of Representatives passed HB 1068 by a vote of 85-11 and it now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

Last Thursday, we also passed an important grandparents' rights bill out of the House: House Bill 1055, which I co-authored.

This bill would improve visitation rights for grandparents and great-grandparents in cases of estrangement.

In some cases, grandparents who have brought up a grandchild have been cut off from that child because of a trivial argument with the child's parents. They then spend their days scouring information about the grandchild in the community paper.

Without this important legislation, they have no legal standing in court and no rights to ask for visitation.

I believe if a grandparent or great-grandparent is a good influence on the grandchild, they should be able to ask a court for the right to visit that child, regardless of whether they are on good terms with one or both parents.

The measure does nothing to usurp parental rights, but instead instructs courts on how to determine what would be in the best interests of the child.

Factors such as the age and gender of the child and the mental and physical health of the relatives involved must all be taken into consideration, but the primary consideration must still be parents' rights and wishes.

Several nearby states, including Kentucky and Mississippi, already give grandparents a chance to petition the court in the case of estrangement.

In addition, Indiana currently allows grandparents the right to ask for visitation privileges in cases where parents have died, divorced or were not married to begin with. This law would also allow them to do so even if the parents' marriage is intact.

An amendment I offered also makes HB1055 effective as soon as it is approved by the Senate.

You can track the progress of HB1055 atwww.in.gov/legislative. And remember, you can always email me at h63@in.gov.

Thank you for reading this legislative update. Have a great week!