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State senator reflects on first half of 2018 session

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Indiana lawmakers headed back to the Statehouse Monday following a long mid-session weekend.

Last week, the House of Representatives and the State Senate each finished shining their respective bills and past those off to the other chamber to see what will finish the process as new laws.

“The first half of the 2018 session was very fast paced,” said Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenberg).

State Senators filed 449 bills and passed 172 of them (38 percent) before the Feb. 6 deadline. Each Senator can file up to 10 bills.

Nine bills that Leising authored passed the Senate.

Leising is very excited that Senate Bills 8, 142 and 240 passed.

SB 8 is a bill requiring each school corporation, charter school and accredited nonpublic elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum.

Leising has been a long-time supporter of bringing cursive writing back to Indiana schools.

SB 142 creates a study on maternal mortality and morbidity in Indiana.

Sen. Leising said Indiana currently has twice the national average of women dying during childbirth and she wants to know why that is.

SB 240 addresses emotional support animals and requires documentation from a licensed health professional to have the animal in a rented dwelling.

Leising’s other bills deal with residence address for voters who are also mentally ill, 911 call center funding and establishing Hoosier produce regulations.

One of her bills will allow the Indiana State Board of Animal Health to issue meat certificates for exporters. Another will add amaranth seed to the state’s list of restricted seeds.

Leising’s final bill to pass the full Senate will establish a study of any disparity in high school grading and what impact, if any, that may have on college admission.

Leising’s biggest disappointment this year was that her 10th bill, Senate Bill 7, died in committee.

SB 7 would have required Indiana schools to start after the last Monday in August.

“Sixty percent of the over 2500 responding to my survey want the later school start date,” Leising said, referring to the legislative survey that she sends to constituents every year.

Leising pointed out that 98 percent of the Indiana Senate bills had bipartisan support and 62 percent of the bills passed unanimously through the Senate.

Sen. Leising said she was also very disappointed that her fellow Senators passed Senate Bill 52, which fully legalizes cannabidiol (CBD) oil in the state.

“Science does not support the use of CBD oil,” Leising said. “The Federal government still considers CBD a Schedule 1 narcotic according to the Federal Register.”

The Indiana House of Representatives passed 130 bills during the first half of the lawmaking session.

The House of Representatives has until March 5 to pass any Senate bills on their third reading.

The State Senate has until March 6 to pass any bills they received from the House of Representatives.

Both chambers of the 2018 Indiana General Assembly will adjourn March 14.