BATESVILLE — With less than three weeks to go before the mandatory close of this legislative session, Indiana lawmakers are sending a flurry of bills to the governor for his signature.
Legislation that's already passed out the House and Senate cover a wide gamut of issues, from expanding the definition of a historic cemetery to banning welfare recipients to withdraw their cash assistance from ATM machines inside strip clubs.
As of Monday, Gov. Mitch Daniels had already signed nine bills into law, including the controversial “right to work” legislation that makes it a crime for employers to enter into labor agreements that require workers to pay union dues.
Another nine bills were on Daniels' desk by late Monday awaiting his signature. They include legislation that rolls back a “blue law” on Sunday motorcycle sales, and would allow the state's motorcycle dealers to sell their wares seven days a week.
By law, the 2012 “short” legislative session must wrap up by March 14. House Speaker Brian Bosma is predicting lawmakers may be done earlier, by March 9.
Of the more than 100 bills that Daniels is likely to sign into law this year, few are the headline-grabbers like the one that made Indiana the 23rd “right to work” state in the nation. A partisan fight over the bill stalled the first half of the legislative session, when House Democrats refused more than half-dozen times to show up for quorum calls.
Many of the bills headed to Daniels desk are like the cemetery bill that expands the definition of a historic cemetery that can be cared for with county tax dollars. It moves the date to be considered “historic” from 1850 to 1875; it also expands the definition to include cemeteries with the graves of Civil War veterans.
“It may not be the most important bill we pass, but it will be important to a lot of people who care about this issue,” said Rep. Ed Clere, a Republican from New Albany who co-sponsored the bill.