A look at issues in Indiana Legislature

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 3, 2013 at 8:31 am •  Published: March 3, 2013
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A look at the status of major legislation before the Indiana General Assembly this year:

BIG-TICKET ITEMS

— STATE SPENDING: The House approved a two-year, $30 billion budget that increases school spending by 2 percent the first year and 1 percent the second year. The House plan added $200 million for education and $500 million for roads to the proposal submitted by GOP Gov. Mike Pence. The Senate will now take up the budget plan.

— TAX CUT PROPOSAL: Pence's proposal to cut the state's personal income tax from 3.4 percent to 3.06 percent isn't included in the House budget. GOP House and Senate leaders have been skeptical of the move, but Pence argues the state can afford the estimated $500 million-a-year cut and that it would spur economic growth.

— HEALTH CARE: The Senate approved a bill authorizing Pence to expand Medicaid using the state's Healthy Indiana Plan to cover an estimated 400,000 low-income residents. Pence and Republican legislative leaders oppose a straight expansion of Medicaid and starting a state health insurance exchange under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

EDUCATION

— SCHOOL VOUCHERS: The House approved a bill expanding the private school voucher program by allowing kindergartners, siblings of current voucher students and some others to be eligible without first spending a year in public schools. House leaders shelved a bill that would have shifted voucher administration away from new Democratic state schools superintendent Glenda Ritz, a voucher opponent.

— SCHOOL STANDARDS: A Senate-passed bill would suspend adoption of the Common Core national reading and math standards until a fresh review is completed, but the House is unlikely to take up the measure that Ritz supported. Many in the House and Senate agree with Ritz that changes are needed to the state's A-F grading scale for individual schools, but no bills have cleared either chamber yet.

— SCHOOL SECURITY: The state would offer schools up to $50,000 a year in grants to help hire police officers and buy safety equipment to better secure their buildings under a bill approved by the Senate.

— CAREER COUNCIL: The House approved establishing the Indiana Career Council led by the governor with officials from state agencies and Ivy Tech Community College and other education and business leaders. The venture would match the state's workforce training programs with available jobs.

MONEY AND TAXES

— CASINO CHANGES: Senators approved a plan that would allow Indiana's 10 riverboat casinos to move inland to adjacent property and permit live table games at the two horse track casinos as they face more competition from neighboring states. The bill would also cut state taxes on casinos by millions of dollars. Several House leaders, however, are wary of making major changes to casino laws.

— ONLINE SALES TAX: The House voted to require Amazon.com and other online-only retailers to start collecting Indiana's 7 percent sales tax this summer. That's six months earlier than planned under a deal then-Gov. Mitch Daniels reached with Amazon last year, and some Senate leaders are reluctant to break that agreement.

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