Journalists and others are keeping a close eye on lawmakers at the Indiana statehouse. There’s a new plan, House Bill 1019, that’s been introduced in this short session that would impact news gathering and the public’s right to know in the case of recordings from police body cameras here in Indiana. This bill would require newsrooms to get a court order to view any video from a police body camera. It has already sailed through a House committee where the members voted unanimously to pass it. These lawmakers are trying to write the rules for the camera’s recordings spelling out who can, and who can’t, view the video. This is a critical issue as you’ve recently seen around the country where the videos show police acting improperly –or handling situations correctly on the job–particularly in relation to interacting with black suspects and policing the black community. The Indiana Broadcasters Association says forcing journos to get a court order is in direct opposition to the state’s freedom of information laws already on the books. In a press release, Dave Crooks, chairman of the board of the IBA, which represents more than 300 radio and TV broadcasters across Indiana said, “This outrageous proposal takes government secrecy to a new level, keeping public records completely under wrap.” The bill was introduced by state Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City). In this state, government agencies must make public records available for public inspection. If the government agency denies the request, the denial must be reasonable and tied to an ongoing investigation.
Also, the question downtown at the capitol building isn’t so much should Indiana sell beer and liquor on Sundays, but who gets to sell it. Lawmakers are once again caught up in a fight between grocery stores, including the big chains, and liquor stores. The measure before them right now would require grocery stores to place liquor away from “toys, school supplies, and candy.” Liquor stores say that’s fair, the grocers say it’s too much.
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