Holcomb Ends First Session By Signing Several Contentious Bills

By Indiana Public Media News Staff
Posted May 2, 2017

Governor Eric Holcomb finished the work of the 2017 legislative session Tuesday, signing all remaining bills left on his desk.

Holcomb vetoed only one measure his first year in office, a bill that would have allowed governments to charge a fee for some public records requests. Former Governor Mike Pence vetoed a similar measure in 2015.

Here are the measures Holcomb signed into law Tuesday:

Closing Cold Beer Sales Loophole

The legislation closes a legal loophole used by the Ricker’s convenience store chain to sell cold beer, a right only liquor stores and restaurants are supposed to have according to the state’s complicated alcohol laws.

“I sign this bill with the understanding we need to review and make common-sense changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws,” Holcomb said in a statement.

In a statement, Ricker’s owner Jay Ricker says while he thinks the alcohol bill should have been vetoed, he’s heartened that Holcomb acknowledged the need for a common-sense review of the state’s alcohol laws.

Curtailing Solar Panel Incentives

he bill will sharply curtail the benefit available to those who install solar panels.

“I support solar as an important part of Indiana’s comprehensive energy mix,” Holcomb said in a statement. “I understand the concerns some have expressed, but this legislation ensures that those who currently have interests in small solar operations will not be affected for decades.”

Critics contend the bill is part of a broader nationwide push by utilities to seize control of the emerging solar market.

Banning Sanctuary Campuses

The measure bars higher education institutions that accept federal or state dollars from adopting a “sanctuary” designation, meaning they would protect students who came to the United States without legal permission.

The move is largely symbolic because Indiana has no sanctuary campuses, despite students and faculty at some major universities pressuring administrations to do so.

Legalizing Baby Boxes

The law legalizes baby boxes in hospitals while also sanctioning the state’s two existing devices, both of which are in firehouses.

The boxes are meant to provide people with more anonymity when dropping off unwanted newborns. But the bill imposes few safety regulations. And the Department of Child Services balked at the legislation during session.

Allowing “Micro” Cell Towers

The law gives sweeping new rights to cell phone companies, allowing so-called micro cell phone towers to be erected so cell phone signal strength doesn’t wane as often.

“We must support technology to keep our state moving forward, and this bill achieves that goal,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Even so, we will work closely with local governments to ensure it is well implemented.”

Some communities acted quickly to enact local legislation heading off the effects of the measure.

Click here to see a complete list of the bills Gov. Holcomb signed into law this session.