TERRE HAUTE, Ind.(WTWO/WAWV)– With the 2023 Indiana Legislative session hitting the halfway mark, local lawmakers gathered at the Vigo County Public Library for their third cracker barrel session of the year on Saturday.
State Sen. Jon Ford, alongside State Reps. Bruce Borders and Bob Heaton, answered questions on some of the most controversial topics being discussed at the statehouse right now. Among them– voter’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues and a bill that proposes banning books with “offensive materials to minors” from school libraries.
Senate Bill 480 is one that made it through the senate that restricts gender-affirming care for minors. Ford said the bill deals with “parental rights,” along with a number of others, and legislation on the issue has increased in recent years. He said he thinks they are trying to find a balance on the issue.
“Out of COVID, there’s been a lot of questions about parental rights,” he said. “It’s all about striking a balance. We got two months left in session, we’ll keep working on those things and striving for that balance.”
Ford also spoke about his decision to vote against Senate Bill 12, which did still pass the senate. That bill discusses banning certain books in libraries.
“What was kind of scary to me was having high levels of government decide what is appropriate in local communities. I’d rather have local communities make those decisions,” he said.
Heaton said he would work with these bills in “the next few weeks,” but hadn’t done much research as they moved through the state senate. He said a majority of his time so far has gone towards the budget.
“The big bill we sent over to the senate is House Bill 1001, the budget,” he said. “That was over 200 pages long, has a lot of good stuff in it, billions of dollars worth of funding.”
Given it’s a budget year, lawmakers cautioned it is a long session, and bills are still subject to change, or fail completely.
“Some bills that the house passed and the senate doesn’t like, we won’t pass them. We’ll change some of their bills and they may not like the changes,” he said. “There’s a long process to go through, and what we see now may not be the end product.”
It was noted at the start that State Rep. Tonya Pfaff, who was not in attendance due to a prior commitment, had missed her first session in several years.
The final cracker barrel of the year will be at the library on Saturday, April 8th.