Lawmakers approve school gun bill, mass transit, pre-K on final day of session

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 13, 2014) – Lawmakers in the General Assembly have now adjourned for the year after making their final votes on several key pieces of legislation, including a controversial bill dealing with guns in school parking lots and bills to expand mass transit and pre-kindergarten.

The school gun bill would allow gun-carrying school employees to take their firearms onto school property, as long as the gun was locked away in their car.

The proposal, added into a gun-buyback bill (SB 229), would decriminalize the act of leaving a gun stowed away in your car in a school parking lot. It’s currently legal for drivers to have a gun in the car while driving through a school parking lot, but it’s currently a felony to have a gun on your person, or in the car, upon leaving your vehicle.

Lawmakers have now revised the bill in conference committee, essentially making it a misdemeanor if the gun is left in plain view. The new version of the bill passed the Senate on Thursday night.

There are some other clauses, and exceptions, which you can read about in the full SB 229 conference committee report.

The issue of mass transit was also up for a final vote on Thursday. A conference committee came to an agreement on the bill to expand transit in Central Indiana (Senate Bill 176).

The House and Senate both approved the deal Thursday night.

The bill includes Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties, which would pay for the system through local option taxes that would have to be approved by voter referendums. It does not include a proposed business tax, an idea that was taken out of the measure.

The House and Senate passed separate versions of the bill, and both chambers have been negotiating since then. You can read the bill here. This is the third year the General Assembly has taken up the mass transit issue, but the issue has never advanced this far.

Lawmakers have also approved a plan to fund major road construction projects across the state. A House-Senate conference committee came to terms on House Bill 1002, which would release $200 million in funding, with an option to spend other $200 million on roads in the near future. Read the conference committee report here.

Legislators have also approved a pre-K pilot program, one of Gov. Mike Pence’s top priorities.  The compromise measure allows for a pilot program for early education, using up to $10 million in existing state funds that were left unspent. It also mandates that the state conduct a study tracking students to determine their progress in kindergarten and later grades.

Details from that bill are here.

Both chambers also passed legislation dealing with the business personal property tax Thursday, another of the governor’s key agenda items.

Gov. Pence also joined several Indiana military families Thursday to sign into law a bill that expands the state’s military family relief fund.

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