Indiana legislative session enters its final day

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers entered the final day of the annual legislative session with a substantial amount of work left to do and a midnight deadline to get it done by.

The Indiana House worked into the evening hours Tuesday to vote on proposals. But the Senate abruptly adjourned Tuesday afternoon, leaving the remainder of its work for Wednesday.

That raises the possibility that many bills could get killed as lawmakers run out of time.

“There’s only a handful of truly important issues left,” Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said Tuesday. “A lot of the stuff that is less critical, fortunately there is another legislative session next year.”

Negotiations are ongoing on legislation to eliminate handgun licensing fees and make changes to the leadership of the state’s workforce development programs.

Other issues still in play include legislation allowing Ball State University to take over Muncie schools, a measure giving parents more control over sex education and a stopgap school funding bill.

“Once we get our agenda items done, there’s not a lot of reason to stay here,” Bosma said.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, spent much of Tuesday giving speeches and honoring those who were retiring from the Legislature.

Before this year’s session even began, Republican leaders who control the Statehouse set to work lowering expectations for the election year session.

Planned improvements to the state workforce development and job training programs were supposed to be a dominant issue. But instead Republicans downsized their ambitions, approving a reshuffling of a governing board overseeing those efforts, while postponing the heavy lifting for next year.

There was a push to add Indiana to the list of 45 other states with a hate crimes law, but that foundered amid opposition from conservatives in the state Senate. And a plan by House Republican leaders to eliminate a large number of townships also failed to generate support.

Still, lawmakers did accomplish one major feat that was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb: They eliminated a prohibition on carryout Sunday alcohol sales that had effectively been in place since Indiana became a state in 1816.