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Legislative studies often precede tough action

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Indiana lawmakers have only a few more days this week before they wrap up the 2014 legislative session. But that doesn't mean they're totally done for the year.

A handful of top issues being debated this session are on their way to "summer study," as the Statehouse lingo goes. Lawmakers are set to study business taxes and preschool vouchers, even if they do approve the tax cuts and new education spending sought by Gov. Mike Pence this session.

Critics of these studies say they equate to "punting" on the issue, while supporters say it allows the time to delve deeper into a subject after the harried days of the session. Either way, months of routine meetings on one specific topic often help drive action on many of Indiana's toughest issues.

The best example from this year could be the regulations for religious daycare centers that lawmakers are on the verge of approving. Proposed regulations were often stymied in previous sessions, despite grim reports of child deaths and multiple newspaper investigations that exposed widespread problems. But it wasn't until after lawmakers spent a summer reviewing the issue that new rules seemed possible.

This summer, lawmakers — and the citizens and experts they call on to serve with them on the respective study committees — won't be tackling only the business taxes and preschool vouchers.

Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, was able to declare victory last month after Republicans gave initial approval to her request that the issue of teen sexual assault, a problem she says is underreported, was tabbed for a summer review. And lawmakers will spend the next two years looking comprehensively at the state's transportation funding, a problem that state leaders have tinkered with for years now.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, who is considering Pence's request for the release of $400 million in roads funding that lawmakers marked for savings in their most recent budget, noted that the problem of declining gas tax collections due to improving vehicle gas mileage is a long-term issue that needs to be tackled head on.

"It's a national dilemma," he said. "In one sense, it's great. It's good for the environment, and it's great for consumers and everyone else. But on the other hand, how do we pay for our roads?"

The question of the study committee may weigh heaviest for Pence, who started the session with broad requests for lawmakers but has had to dial back his expectations considerably. Positioning himself to claim victory at the end of the session, Pence has taken to calling the study of preschool vouchers a good thing (even though he's remained firm that he would like to see at least some type of program approved by lawmakers this year).

The governor spoke about the preschool program last week at the Day Nursery daycare adjacent to the Statehouse, continuing his last-minute lobbying for one of his key agenda items.

"I think what the legislature has proposed in the manner of a comprehensive study before we go very far down this path is sound and appropriate," Pence said. "But I also believe a pilot program, like that which was passed by the House of Representatives, is an idea whose time has come. And I'm renewing my call at the start of the week for the Indiana General Assembly to combine the study with a pilot program."

The 2014 session is set to end as soon as Wednesday and no later than Friday. Then come months of pondering ahead of the 2015 session.

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  • Who Does These Studies?
    Does anyone know who does these studies and who reviews/approves the methodologies used in the studies? Are they state employees? How is their objectivity ensured?

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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