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Weekly Statehouse update: Cannabis decriminalization hearing, vote-by-mail restrictions

The west entrance of the Indiana Statehouse. Red and blue lights are illuminated as part of an installation in the plaza in front of the entrance. A small crane is on the left side of the image, on the lawn.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
The Indiana Statehouse.

A House panel approves new vote-by-mail rules. Expanded access to birth control nears passage by the House. And a bill to decriminalize simple possession of cannabis gets a historic hearing.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

HB 1334: Absentee voting

Under legislation headed to the House floor, HB 1334, Hoosiers mailing in applications for a vote-by-mail ballot must show voter ID. They do that by including the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application and either sending in a photocopy of their driver’s license or state ID card or including the number of their driver’s license, state ID or, for those who don’t have that on file in the state voter registration system, a special voter ID number.

HB 1568: Prescription for hormonal contraceptives

A bill unanimously approved by a House committee, HB 1568, would allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control to anyone age 18 or older, without an appointment. Pharmacists would have to go through additional training and patients would be given a self-screening risk assessment tool and encouraged to follow up with their primary care provider, if they have one.

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.

HB 1297: Decriminalization of marijuana

And legislation to decriminalize possession of two ounces or less of cannabis got its first-ever hearing at the Statehouse. But HB 1297 will likely go no further this year after the House committee chair who gave it a hearing said it would not get a vote.

Find all the bills our statewide team is covering in our bill tracker at ipbs.org/projects/2023billtracker/

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.