The Latest: GOP lawmakers look to avoid DCS action in 2018
Jan. 03, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the convening of the 2018 Indiana legislative session (all times local):
Republicans who dominate the Indiana Legislature do not plan on taking substantive action during the 2018 session to address the state's troubled Department of Child Services.
The 10-week legislative session kicked off Wednesday. But GOP Senate leader David Long says he doesn't want to hold public hearings examining the widely publicized problems. House Speaker Brian Bosma made a similar call.
The agency's problems erupted publicly when former director Mary Beth Bonaventura resigned last month. She accused Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb of making management changes and service cuts that "all but ensure children will die."
Holcomb's administration is working with a nonprofit group to conduct a review of the agency.
Democrats are calling for public hearings, but Republican leaders want to wait for the group to conclude its work sometime in the spring.
An Indiana legislator is proposing legislation that would allow for expanded use of baby boxes in which a mother could anonymously give up her newborn.
Republican state Sen. Travis Holdman of Markle announced Wednesday his bill would allow fire departments that are continually staffed to install the devices.
A state law passed last year allows for such boxes at hospitals, though proponents say none have been installed yet. Two fire departments that previously installed such devices were also grandfathered in under the law.
Baby boxes are heated and contain an alarm that alerts when a baby is placed inside. But child welfare authorities have voiced concerns about a lack of safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the boxes.
Holdman says his latest effort helps address those concerns by only allowing the boxes to be installed continuously staffed locations.
Legislators are returning to the Indiana Statehouse to begin this year's General Assembly session.
Members of both the Indiana House and Senate will meet on Wednesday to formally start the session that must end by mid-March.
The Republican-dominated Legislature could face contentious debates over issues such as ending Indiana's longtime ban on Sunday carryout alcohol sales and repealing the state law requiring licenses to carry handguns in public.
Conservative social activists have already attacked Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma for not taking up a constitutionally questionable bill that aims to ban abortions by defining human life as beginning when a human egg is fertilized by a sperm.
Democrats are pushing for a state hate crimes law and an independent commission for drawing congressional and legislative election districts.