Politics & Government

Congress
5:47 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Coats Will Not Seek Re-election in 2016

Sen. Dan Coats announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election in 2016.
Credit Courtesy / Dan Coats

U.S. Senator Dan Coats Tuesday announced he will not run for re-election in 2016.

Coats had spoken in recent months about whether to run again, noting that how Congress functioned with Republican majorities would play a major role. 

In a video statement Tuesday, the Hoosier Senator said choosing not to run was not an easy decision. 

“While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders,” he said.

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Politics & Government
5:36 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

RFRA Passes House, Heads to Governor's Desk

The Indiana House overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Monday. Gov. Mike Pence says he will sign the bill into law.
Credit Andrew Downs / For WBOI News

The Indiana House Monday approved a bill that supporters call a shield protecting people of faith.  But opponents believe the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commonly known as RFRA, a license to discriminate.

RFRA creates a judicial test for Indiana courts that ensures a government can only restrict religious practices if it has a compelling reason and does so in the least restrictive way. 

Supporters, such as Inglefield Republican Representative Tom Washburne, say the bill helps ensure Hoosiers live in harmony with each other.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

RFRA Debate Raises Questions About LGBT Civil Rights Protection

Indiana civil rights law does not currently bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which some lawmakers want to change.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

The controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that’s being debated in the Indiana legislature is sparking another debate: whether state law should protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

RFRA’s supporters say the proposed law only ensures the government can’t restrict a person’s religious practices unless it has a compelling interest to do so. They believe the state’s civil rights statute qualifies as a compelling interest. 

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Politics & Government
5:08 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Bill Would Include Guard, Reserves in Military Financial Protections

A bill currently in the Indiana Senate would give Indiana National Guard members and reservists the same financial protections as other servicemembers.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Legislation approved by a Senate panel Tuesday aims to bolster financial protections for active duty National Guard members and reservists.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act doesn’t necessarily extend to members of the Indiana National Guard or reservists.  And the Attorney General’s office made a state-level protection bill part of its agenda for the session. 

The measure helps protect Guard members and reservists who’ve been on active duty for at least 30 days from foreclosures and default. 

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Politics & Government
4:42 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Senate Approves Experimental Drugs for Terminally-Ill

The Indiana Senate approved a bill Tuesday allowing experimental treatments to be given to some terminally-ill patients.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Senate lawmakers unanimously approved the Right to Try bill Tuesday that its sponsor says will give “hope to the hopeless.”

The Right to Try bill would allow terminally-ill patients to receive experimental drugs as long as they meet three standards.  

Valparaiso Republican Senator Ed Charbonneau, the bill’s sponsor says, first, the medications must have passed through the first of three phases in the FDA’s approval process.

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Politics & Government
4:20 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

I.D. Bill Aimed at Amish Hoosiers Passes Senate Committee

An Indiana Senate committee approved a measure Tuesday creating a new state I.D. that doesn't require a photograph. Indiana Rep. Bob Morris authored the bill.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

A Senate committee Tuesday easily approved legislation creating a new state I.D. that does not require a photograph. The bill is aimed at Indiana’s Amish community.

Lloyd Lambright represents a large segment of Indiana’s Amish residents.  He says some of the most conservative members will still refuse to get any kind of state identification card.  But he says for many, the barrier to getting an I.D. is the photograph that accompanies it.

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Politics & Government
4:22 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

House Committee Debates RFRA Amid Protests

Both supporters (pictured) and opponents packed the Indiana Statehouse Monday to express their opinion on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Opponents of the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act say it’s not about religious freedom, but about legalizing discrimination.  A House committee debated the issue in a hearing Monday.

Proponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, say they’re worried about the government encroaching on their practice of religion.  But opponents say RFRA goes much further than simply protecting religious practices; they say it will allow private citizens to discriminate because of their religious beliefs. 

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Politics & Government
4:15 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Zoeller's E-Cig Recommendations Ignored By Legislature

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked the legislature to tax e-cigarettes and include them in the statewide smoking ban. Neither suggestion was included in the current e-cigarette bill.
Credit Courtesy / Greg Zoeller

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s recommendations for inclusion of e-cigarettes in the state’s smoking ban almost certainly won’t be included in legislation regulating the vaping industry.

Zoeller made regulating e-cigarettes one of his priorities this session.  And while proposed legislation aims to regulate the makers and sellers of e-liquids, which are used in e-cigs, the bill does nothing regarding e-cigarettes themselves. 

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SCOTUS
5:29 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

How the New Case Against Obamacare Could Affect Indiana

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on a key portion of the Affordable Care Act Wednesday.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

  The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King vs. Burwell Wednesday, a case that challenges one of the primary components of the Affordable Care Act. The outcome could affect hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.

People like to compare the Affordable Care Act to a stool with three legs. The first leg mandates that insurers can’t discriminate against potential buyers; the second leg requires people to have insurance; and the third provides those who don’t have enough money to buy insurance subsidies so they can afford it.

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Politics & Government
4:40 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

On Wage Repeal Bill, Opponents Push for Study Committee

Pete Rimsans leads the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council, which is campaigning against repeal of the common construction wage.
Credit Courtesy

The Indiana House easily approved legislation repealing the state’s common construction wage, and the bill’s support in the Senate looks strong.  For the bill’s opponents, pushing it to a summer study committee could be their best hope.

Set by local boards, the common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects. 

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