2016 Session

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Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Tuesday that eliminates the current statewide student assessment and lays plans for a new one. The law creates a new committee that can alter test format and stakes.

The committee determining the ISTEP replacement will be made mostly of educators, lawmakers and agency heads.

While it can reformat the test, the statewide standards remain the same, so big changes in test questions are unlikely.

Brandon Smith / IPBS

Gov. Mike Pence Tuesday signed more than a dozen bills he says will expand benefits and opportunities for Indiana’s military servicemembers and veterans. 

Former Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Martin Umbarger was one of more than two dozen people gathered around the governor as he signed 13 bills into law. 

Umbarger says he’s particularly pleased with one that expands the Military Family Relief Fund.  That program was originally created to help post-9/11 veterans pay food, housing, utility, transportation and medical bills.  

Dave Dugdale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/

One of the many unsigned bills sitting on Governor Pence’s desk tries to protect homeowners going through the tax sale process from being the victims of fraud. The bill comes as a follow up to a lawsuit from the attorney general.

The legislature and Attorney General Greg Zoeller were able to pass a bill that would ensure the original owner of a home going through a tax sale receives any surplus funds from that sale.

“It really focuses on struggling Hoosier property owners,” Zoeller says.

Gov. Pence Signs 7 Drug-Related Bills Into Law

Mar 21, 2016
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Indiana will make it easier to get one drug over the counter and harder to get some others, as it tries to get the upper hand against drug abuse.

Gov. Mike Pence has signed seven drug bills into law, including a measure creating a standing prescription at all pharmacies for Narcan, a drug which can quickly reverse a heroin overdose.

State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says in Marion County alone, officers have revived 200 patients with Narcan so far this year.

State of Indiana / http://www.in.gov/fssa/hip/

Governor Mike Pence Monday signed into law a bill codifying the HIP 2.0 Medicaid expansion, meaning any changes to the health care plan in the future will need to go through the state legislature.

HIP 2.0 requires cost-sharing from virtually every enrollee, even if it’s only a $1-per-month contribution. Pence in a statement praised the plan for what he calls its dedication to consumerism and personal responsibility.

Urban Sea Star / https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanseastar/

Indiana groups pushing for LGBT rights say the path forward to securing those rights next year is educating lawmakers.  LGBT rights advocates discussed Tuesday what they have in store after LGBT rights legislation died before getting a vote on either chamber floor this session.

Despite failure at the General Assembly, local communities, including, most recently, Evansville and Kokomo, continue to enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances. 

Sherry Nelson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/96877964@N04/

The legislature voted to get ride of ISTEP, replacing the state’s assessment with a new one by next year.

A committee of legislators, educators and other stakeholders will design the new test.

The 232-person panel has until the end of this year to submit a report outlining a new plan for the assessment. The Department of Education will then spend 2017 creating the test and preparing schools for its implementation in spring 2018.

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PROPERTY TAXES FOR FARMERS

The House and Senate Thursday passed a bill that addresses what supporters call rapidly increasing tax bills for farmers. The bill, now headed to the governor’s desk, changes the way those taxes are calculated.

Indiana’s agricultural land taxes are based on income rather than the underlying value of property. Some say the formula that generates that tax is outdated, and that a string of bad years for crop farmers has amplified the problem.

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

The 2016 Indiana legislative session may be remembered as much for what lawmakers didn’t pass as much as for what they did. 

While leadership dubbed this the “roads” session, it did not produce a long term road funding solution.

The general assembly also failed to produce a definitive position on LGBT civil rights.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith wraps up the 119th General Assembly with a review of a few passes and big issues that found an answer.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

POLICE BODY CAMERAS

Legislation headed to the governor will give the public and the press more access to police body camera videos than they’ve ever had.  A final compromise drew unanimous support for the bill in both chambers.

There was one issue remaining in the body camera bill – a provision that said, if a video potentially depicts excessive use of force or civil rights violations by police, it must automatically be released.  Police didn’t like that, and so, despite the objections of press organizations, lawmakers took the provision out. 

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