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Steve Baker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlebiglens/

A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill repealing the state’s common construction wage while also adding new requirements for contractors on public projects. 

An amendment added in committee would require contractors to have training programs and liability insurance, and bars them from paying employees in cash. 

It also prohibits local governments from passing their own version of the common wage.  Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), who authored the amendment, says it ensures workers are well trained and public projects well done.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

It may not sound like music to your ears, but for James Ratican, the administrator for a construction apprenticeship and training program in Anderson, a construction site is a concert.

“It’s like an orchestra playing and everyone has to be on the right key …That’s a little bit of the music and that bass will kick in when that diesel hammer fires off," Ratican says.

The program is operated by a local chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers. On this day, students are learning how to operate cranes and pile drivers.

Shih-Pei Chang / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thoth188/3147537974

Though he says he hasn’t had any conversations with potential investors about the state’s so-called “religious freedom” bill, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis acknowledges he’s fighting against the bad press it’s created.

Jenna Purcella / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenna77/2061335649

After four months without a decrease in unemployment, Indiana’s rate fell below 6-percent in February. 

Indiana’s unemployment rate rose to 6-percent in January, the first time it hit that mark in nearly a year. 

But it only lasted a month, falling back to 5.9-percent in February.  The state’s private sector also created 1,700 jobs last month. 

The slight dip in the unemployment rate is due in part to Hoosiers leaving the labor force in February, meaning fewer people looking for work. 

Marc Benioff / Twitter / https://twitter.com/Benioff/status/581108959337136129

As Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law Thursday, he blamed the media for what he calls a misunderstanding of the law. 

RFRA establishes a judicial test that courts will use to decide when the government can infringe on a person’s religious beliefs and practices.  Many groups say they’re concerned it will be used to sanction discrimination, particularly against LGBT Hoosiers.  But Pence says if he thought the law, which exists at the federal level and in 30 other states, was discriminatory, he would have vetoed it.

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