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Pence signs measures, but big items await decisions

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Gov. Mike Pence has signed a series of small measures approved by state lawmakers this year, but he has left the bigger items — including his top priorities — for later.

As of Wednesday, Pence had signed legislation dealing with public pensions, court records and technical fixes in other policy areas. The governor also signed bills allowing the sale of alcohol at the State Fair and providing more aid to the state's military families.

He also said he would approve new child daycare regulations, dealing largely with religious daycares and small daycare operators. Indiana media have written a series of exposes in the last few years about child deaths and dangerous conditions at unregulated daycare centers throughout the state.

As of Wednesday, Pence had approved more than 30 bills. He is out of town this week.

But measures he sought cutting business taxes, starting a preschool pilot program and spending more on road construction all await his signature.

Much of that is simply because of how the session typically runs each year. The biggest and toughest items are typically negotiated all the way through the final days of the session. Lawmakers finished their work last Thursday, but many of the bills Pence signed reached his desk a week earlier.

Meanwhile, activists who lost their fight with General Assembly this year are lobbying for Pence to veto a measure dealing with energy efficiency. Environmental advocates delivered a petition to Pence's office this week from supporters hoping he will veto a measure ending the state's energy efficiency program.

The governor's veto carries very little weight in Indiana because it can be overridden by a simple majority of state lawmakers, just over 50 percent of each chamber. In Congress and in many other states, defeating an executive's veto is a much higher hurdle: it requires support from two-thirds of the members.

If Pence does nothing within a week of a bill reaching his desk, the legislation automatically becomes law.

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