It has been an eventful week at the Statehouse. All committees have met and have been hearing multiple bills. I had a bill pass through the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee, of which I am Vice Chairman, which would help attract new businesses to the state by allowing local governments to provide businesses with incentives and tax abatements. House Bill 1007 would also help us reach our goals in the Strengthen Indiana Plan. It passed through committee by a vote of 11-0 and will be up for second reading on the House floor.
Another bill that I authored, HB 1297, passed its second reading on the House floor this week. It would change how or if financial institutions are able to hold public deposits of the state. It has also received support from the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions and the Indiana Bankers Association.
Two top issues that were discussed at length were HB 1129, a ban on texting while driving, and HB 1018 a ban on smoking in public places. Both of these bills are concerned with the health and safety of Hoosiers.
HB 1129 would ban texting while driving a moving a vehicle. Hands free devices would still be allowed and a police officer would not be allowed to confiscate the device to determine compliance with the law. The penalty would be a Class C infraction, similar to receiving a ticket for speeding or not wearing a seat belt. HB 1129 passed its third and final reading on the House floor and will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.
HB 1018 would ban smoking in public places including enclosed places of employment, within 12 feet of a public entrance, in certain state vehicles, and in certain other public places. The bill was amended this week to exclude bars with an entrance age of at least 21, veterans' and senior centers, and fraternal lodges in addition to casinos and tobacco shops. HB 1018 has passed its second reading on the House floor and will be up for its third and final reading.
We are moving very quickly and there are many important issues still to be discussed and heard in the General Assembly. The Senate is moving quickly, as well, and when their bills come to the House I'll be sure to keep you updated on the work they are doing.
I encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on the issues we are working on at the Statehouse and always appreciate hearing from you.
Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper).