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Indiana Senate Democrats Unveil 2020 Legislative Agenda

Brandon Smith
IPB News

Indiana Senate Democrats say they’ll push next session to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession, while not legalizing the drug.

The Senate minority caucus unveiled its 2020 agenda Monday.

One proposal would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana an infraction rather than a misdemeanor – essentially treating it like a speeding ticket.

Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) says that change would help address the state’s jail overcrowding problem.

“And so everything should be on the table in regards to this because our sheriffs are feeling it," Ford says. "Our jails are becoming detox centers; our jails are becoming mental health centers.”

Senate Democrats will also author gun safety measures. That includes a bill to expand background checks to private and gun show sales and one that would require parents to securely store guns in their home when children are present.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says those measures have broad public support but have never gotten anywhere at the Statehouse.

“Because the supermajorities are out of touch with what everyday citizens believe would be the right thing to do,” Lanane says.

Democrats will also again push for the creation of an independent redistricting commission to draw the state’s legislative district boundaries.

Contact Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.