2016 Session

Judy Baxter / https://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/

The Senate passed two education bills Tuesday- one that address teacher mentoring programs and another that addresses the future of ISTEP. Here’s what the bills would do:

House Bill 1005 – Teacher Programs

  • Create a mentoring program for teachers
  • Give established educators a financial incentive to mentor other teachers
  • Allow school districts to create their own programs (approved and monitored by the State Board of Education

House Bill 1395 – The ISTEP Committee

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus / http://indianahousedemocrats.org/iblc

Indianapolis' seven African-American legislators are pushing back against a bill to appoint Marion County judges instead of electing them.

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus charges the proposal would disenfranchise African-American voters and give minorities less representation on the bench.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) charges the 14-member commission, with eight partisan appointees and six representatives of bar associations and the judiciary, would be, in her words, "stacked" against minority candidates.

Jamelah E. / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamelah/27848559

As health groups advocate for the cigarette tax hike in House Republicans' road funding plan, opposition to the bill say that if people stop smoking, the state would receive less money.

Anti-smoking groups argue the opponents should support this one as a public-health measure, but Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says it’s impossible to separate the tax hike from the road repairs it's intended to pay for. 

Indiana Economic Development Corporation / http://indianaregionalcities.com/

Full funding for all three winners of Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative is in jeopardy after Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said Thursday a bill to provide those dollars is stalled in the House. 

The legislature last year set aside $84 million from the state’s 2015 tax amnesty program to pay for the Regional Cities Initiative.  The money was meant to be split in half, with $42 million going to each winner. 

Ian Ransley / https://www.flickr.com/photos/design-dog/14412981749

A Senate committee chairman postponed a vote Thursday on legislation allowing cosmetologists to shave their customers’ beards and mustaches.  The postponement came after barbers and committee members raised concerns about the lack of a training requirement in the bill.

An interpretation from the Indiana Attorney General’s office last year said state law bars cosmetologists from shaving customers’ beards and mustaches.  Legislation authored this year would allow that practice. 

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/

The next time voters choose judges in Marion County, they may not know who's a Republican and who's a Democrat.

A federal court ordered legislators to replace the current system which elects an equal number of Republicans and Democrats in the primary.

The Senate voted to stop electing judges at all, and have a commission appoint them, but then voters would vote yes or no on keeping them. The House version strips the party labels from the yes-or-no ballot.

Defense Trial Council of Indiana spokesman Tom Schultz says that’s a big improvement.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The vast majority of House Republicans dismissed a Democratic amendment Thursday that would’ve barred employment discrimination against the LGBT community. 

The Democrats’ efforts to keep the LGBT debate alive took the form of an amendment on the House floor to a bill on workforce policies.  The proposed provision would have barred LGBT discrimination in the workplace via hiring, benefits, scheduling and working conditions. 

Scott Pelath / Indiana House Democrats

House Democrats say the closing of Carrier plants in Indianapolis and Huntington shows Republicans have gotten the economy wrong.

Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) argues the move of 2,100 to Mexico proves Republican initiatives, from right-to-work to corporate tax cuts to the repeal of the common construction wage, haven't worked.

“We continue to have very low economic growth,” Pelath says. “We continue to have negligible, if not negative, wage growth and we don’t see any real improvements here.”

NYC Department of Education / http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm

Education groups are asking legislators not to open a second window to apply for private-school vouchers. The Senate has already voted to extend the voucher deadline to December and let students transfer at midyear.

Vic Smith with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education complains private schools already have an advantage in marketing themselves to prospective students, and says the change would make that edge four-and-a-half months longer.

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

Senate Republicans have made clear they're not enthusiastic about tax hikes in a House road funding bill. But they're not crazy about a tax cut in the bill either.

House Republicans added a sixth-of-a-point income tax cut to their road funding bill.

Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) acknowledged it was a sweetener to try to win Senate support for the rest of the plan. But it doesn't appear to be working.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says road funding and a tax cut are, in his words, “apples and oranges.”