- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Latest on Gov. Eric Holcomb signing the vaping, schools chief and religious liberties bills (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

Measures that overhaul the state’s problematic vaping law, make the state schools chief position an appointed one and affirm the religious liberties of students have become law with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature.

Vaping measure author Sen. Randy Head says it will undo “bad and burdensome” regulations that limited competition in the e-liquid market. Those rules allowed one security firm to play gatekeeper and created a monopoly in the industry.

The schools chief bill, meanwhile, changes the position from one elected by voters to one appointed by the governor, beginning in 2025.

The religious liberties bill also signed Thursday primarily codifies case law to ensure student religious liberties in schools aren’t infringed upon. A contentious provision on prayer at school events was stripped in a Senate committee.

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2:25 p.m.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed into law Indiana’s two-year budget and an infrastructure funding plan featuring tax and fee hikes to pay for improvements.

Holcomb and Republican legislative leaders trumpeted both bills at a signing ceremony in the Statehouse Thursday. They call the roads measure a plan that will “drive Indiana to the next level.”

The bill aims to spend roughly $1.2 billion per year in new funding to replace aging roads and bridges by increasing the state’s fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon and imposing new vehicle fees.

Holcomb says residents will smell asphalt from construction “morning, noon and night.”

The $32 billion budget he also signed sends money toward pay increases for state police and an expansion of the preschool pilot, in addition to other education funding.

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9 a.m.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is set to sign the state’s new $32 billion, two-year budget and a bill hiking gasoline taxes by 10 cents a gallon in order to boost road funding.

Holcomb will be joined by several Republican legislative leaders for Thursday afternoon’s Statehouse ceremony that comes less than a week after this year’s General Assembly session ended.

The first-year Republican governor has praised the budget plan approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature. That includes funding increases of about 1.7 percent for K-12 schools each of the next two years.

The road funding plan aims to pump an average of $1.2 billion more a year into infrastructure work, with money coming from the gas tax increase and new vehicle registration fees.

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