The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

February 2, 2014

Maureen Hayden: Gay marriage debate overshadows other legislative activity

INDIANAPOLIS — If you’ve ever blown past a school bus with its bright red “Stop” arm extended, convinced you wouldn’t get caught breaking the law because no police were around, you might think twice about trying it again.

This week the Indiana House voted overwhelmingly to let schools put cameras on those “Stop” arms. Police could use the video to slap hard-to-catch violators with fines up to $1,000. If Senate members like the bill as much as its authors think they will, the evidence-gathering cameras could be in place by July 1.

That is one of scores of bills that have been flying under the radar during the first half of a hectic legislative session dominated by the emotionally charged debate on a gay marriage amendment to the state’s constitution. Despite how may it seem to outsiders, legislators have been diligently debating, approving and discarding a range of measures that could impact Hoosiers.

Here are a few, in no order of priority:

— A Senate-approved bill would open up more jobs for military veterans in state government. Veterans would get preference for state jobs, as they already do for many federal jobs.

It’s a small gesture but a needed one: In Indiana, where the unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent, the jobless rate of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is more than 20 percent.

— The Senate has also passed a measure expanding the state’s Do Not Call law that forbids telemarketers and scammers from pestering Hoosiers who don’t want to be contacted. The bill widens the law’s footprint to include auto-dialing “robo-callers” and companies that sell or give out mass lists of cellphone and land line numbers.

The bill comes in response to 33,000 complaints of unwanted calls filed with the Attorney General’s office over the last two years.

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