We are now in the "second half" of the short session. I'm often asked, "What does a short session mean?"
Since this is my first experience with a short session, I would normally answer that it's the same thing as a long session, but without the budget process. For the most part that is an accurate statement. I now know that a short session produces the same amount of contentious bills and the same amount of debate, but is seven weeks shorter. So what has happened so far and where do we go from here?
In my last newsletter I said I would address some gun issues. This is the first time since I've been a representative that we really had a "gun" bill. We had two bills.
HB1068 dealt with closing a loophole in the previous law that had allowed anyone to request information from your personal protection permit application, under public information laws. This included personal information that should not be public record.
HB1068 closed that hole. That was an easy issue to support.
HB1065 was a little more contentious. It dealt with allowing someone who has a permit to carry a handgun the ability to leave it in their locked car while at work. For some time, businesses have had the ability to regulate their parking lots as private property. This issue is twofold for me.
I agree that an employer has the right to keep guns out of his facility but allowing the gun owner to keep it in his car is the owner's right. Over the years there have been instances in the national media where an employee has taken a gun into their workplace and it resulted in violence. However, upon researching these crimes, the criminals first left the property and returned with weapons of greater power to perpetrate the crime. In some cases they actually had handguns in their cars, but left and returned later. In states where it is legal to keep a hand gun in your locked car there were no incidences of workplace attacks.
2. The 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms and that right shall not be infringed upon. I think any law that prohibits me from keeping my gun in my private possession-whether it is in my home or in my car-violates the 2nd amendment. I am not a huge gun owner, but I hold this right as dear as any of the other rights guaranteed to us as American citizens by our Constitution.
I'd like to address one last issue that has nothing to do with guns - partisanship.
I have had many people at my town halls express their concern that we are too partisan, too argumentative and too driven by what our political party wants us to do. The truth is that there is probably too much partisanship in the Indiana legislature, but it is not overwhelming. I believe the media loves the issues that divide us.
Our last day to get bills out of the house and into the Senate was Wednesday, Feb. 2, and we passed 57 bills that day. Over 84% were passed by greater than 60% of the voting members Thirty-two bills (32) bills, or 56%, passed by 90% or better. Is that reported by the media? No. Why not? They were bills about logjams, vehicles, financial services and my favorite -insurance. These bills aren't controversial enough to talk about. These bills are good laws and make for a better Indiana even if you never hear about them.
Till next week,
Keeping things in Lehman's Terms,
Rep. Matt Lehman