2015 Indiana General Assembly

Indiana Department of Administration

Changes to Indiana’s ethics statutes passed by the legislature this year are prompting state agencies to officially adopt policies about employees using state property for personal use.  But very little will actually change.

The legislation approved by the General Assembly requires the State Ethics Commission to approve all state agencies’ policies barring employees from using state property for personal use.  But as Ethics Director Jen Cooper told the commission at its meeting Thursday, agencies already had those rules in place.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

When the State Board of Education met last week at Purdue, half of the members were new. 

That’s because legislation the General Assembly passed this year allowed the governor and legislative leaders to immediately reconfigure the board.

Justin Marty / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmarty/3677688990

The Indiana Rural Broadband Working Group, convened last year, developed a report for the legislature identifying steps towards blanketing the state with quality broadband coverage. 

Representative Eric Koch (R- Bedford), who served on the working group, says a first step is the creation of a new designation – Broadband Ready Communities. 

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

“Worse than doing nothing” – that’s how critics describe Indiana’s new energy efficiency effort crafted by Governor Mike Pence and the General Assembly. 

Environmental and consumer advocacy groups say the new energy efficiency program is going to drive up costs for residential consumers. 

Under the approved legislation, each utility company must develop its own energy efficiency program…and they can raise rates to cover any revenue they lose because of decreased energy usage. 

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Legislative leaders and the governor entered the 2015 Indiana General Assembly, declaring it an “education session” and saying there was work to be done addressing worrisome topics such as infant mortality rates.

Many of the education issues got buried under the political sparring between GOP leaders and Democratic state superintendent Glenda Ritz. And most other legislation missed out on coverage because of debate over the state’s so-called “religious freedom” bill.

Ken Walton / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenwalton/15726458855/

The common construction wage is a kind of minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.  The wage is set for each project by a local board.  In a statement announcing he signed the bill repealing the common wage, Governor Pence says wages should be set by the marketplace, not government bureaucracy. 

He says repealing the system puts taxpayers first.  But opponents of the repeal say ending the common wage will create more economic disparity, driving more public projects into the hands of out-of-state workers.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence was able to declare almost total victory Thursday in the wake of the 2015 session despite early skepticism from the General Assembly for much of his agenda -- in part because he took so much criticism for his handling of the state's so-called "religious freedom" bill.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Republican lawmakers and the governor say while the controversy around the religious freedom law overshadowed a part of the session, they’re confident its shadow will fade over time.  Democrats agree, but for a different reason.

Governor Mike Pence says he regrets not being able to foresee the controversy that erupted over the religious freedom law known as RFRA.

“And as I’ve said, I regret the difficulty that Indiana passed through during a time of great misunderstanding about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Pence says.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

The budget deal announced last night isn‘t final yet. Governor Pence spent about 40 minutes behind closed doors with House and Senate leaders and legislative and administration fiscal analysts today working out the final numbers.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says the last-minute snags aren‘t significant -- he says there will be changes to what he calls "limitations and line items" that came to light after the administration and other stakeholders were able to read through the entire 250-page document. He says the broad outlines of the bill will remain the same.

Leslie Richards / https://www.flickr.com/photos/14052937@N04/

The so called “education session” of the General Assembly will end Wednesday and lawmakers are expected to give more money to schools through the updated school funding formula. 

Funding for schools increases 2.3 percent under the proposed 2016-2017 budget, the biggest jump in the state’s history.

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