INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) has authored a number of initiatives this session focusing on issues related to tax rates, working families and local governments.

Medical marijuana

Senator Tallian again filed legislation to reform the state’s marijuana laws. Senate Bill (SB) 255 seeks to establish the first medical marijuana program in Indiana. SB 255 permits caregivers and patients, who have received a physician recommendation, to possess a certain quantity of marijuana for medical treatment. The legislation establishes a state agency to oversee the medicinal marijuana program.

Tax rate moratorium

The 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly started with a discussion of raising taxes for transportation funding. Meanwhile, the state is not meeting revenue projections and is in the process of phasing down the corporate and financial institutions tax rates. SB 260 calls for a moratorium on these rate reductions

Various pension matters

Under current law, families of fallen public service members receive pension benefits in two separate funds. To create less of a burden on the families, Sen. Tallian proposed SB 46 to allocate the funds into a single account to be dispersed to the beneficiary. The language contained in this bill was recommended by the Pension Management Oversight Committee.

Prevailing wage

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 created a federal law establishing the requirement for paying the local prevailing wages on public work projects. In 2015, the legislature repealed Indiana’s decades-old common construction wage statute. Indiana is now one of only 19 states with no prevailing wage requirement. SB 251 seeks to reverse this act and re-institute the common wage in Indiana.

Minimum wage

Currently, 21.2 percent of children in Indiana live in poverty. In 2014, 68 percent of all jobs in the state paid less than $20 per hour. In order to assist low-income working Hoosiers, Sen. Tallian has proposed SB 252, which would increase the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.62. This fugure is based on the “living wage” level for Indiana, as determined by a national study.

Income tax deduction for public school expenses

Parents with dependent children enrolled in private schools are currently entitled to an income tax deduction for educational expenses. Sen. Tallian has proposed SB 259 that would allow all parents within public schools to be afforded a tax deduction for school expenses. The deduction is equal to $1,000 per dependent child for whom unreimbursed education expenses are made.

Voter registration and other voting matters

Currently, most polling sites in Indiana are only open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day, preventing many Hoosiers from voting. In an effort to accommodate voter’s busy schedules, Sen. Tallian proposed SB 257 to keep polling sites open until 8 p.m. on Election Day. A voter, under this bill’s provisions, would also be able to register at their polling place by completing a voter registration form with proof of residence.

Expungement of civil forfeiture records

Sen. Tallian has proposed SB 258 that would permit the expungement of civil forfeiture records if a related arrest or conviction is expunged.

Issuance of Bonds for transportation projects

In an effort to expand funding sources for transportation projects, Sen. Tallian proposed SB 262 to allow the Indiana Finance Authority to issue bonds for the construction of new, or the repair of existing transportation infrastructure.