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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Some big bills on back burner in legislature

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Indiana Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma
Three weeks into Indiana's legislative session, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma is touting the hard work already being done on major issues. Not surprisingly, Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer contends the session is off to a slow start.

Actually, they're both right.

Some big issues -- including a fix for the state's insolvent unemployment fund and a contentious plan to use taxpayer money to help parents send their children to private school --have yet to be discussed in committee meetings.

But lawmakers are working quickly to advance other bills. Lawmakers have fast-tracked a bill that would expand the use of centralized vote centers, an effort to help counties that want to use vote centers instead of traditional neighborhood precincts in the May municipal primaries. Legislative committees have also approved bills to ban texting while driving and outlaw smoking in public places other than casinos and horse race tracks Both ills have been proposed in years past but seem to have more momentum this year.

Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said committee chairmen have "conducted some very positive discussions on critical issues that are before our state and our General Assembly."

"They are doing precisely what we've asked -- to have full and fair committee hearings," Bosma said.

But Bauer, D-South Bend, questioned why lawmakers aren't focusing more time on efforts to create jobs.

"We have gotten off to a very slow start," he said.

Some complex bills -- such as a new, two-year state budget -- always move through the legislative process at a snail's pace. The House Ways and Means Committee that begins the legislative budgeting process has begun holding hearings, listening to funding requests from state agencies and universities. Those meetings will stretch into early February, but final budget negotiations won't take place until the legislative session nears its end in late April. Lawmakers won't approve a budget until later they receive updated predictions of state revenue, which usually occurs in mid-April.

Indiana Democratic House Minority Leader Pat Bauer
Redistricting is also on the back burner for now as lawmakers await 2010 Census data -- expected to arrive in February at the earliest -- that will help them redraw maps for the state's nine congressional and 150 state legislative districts. Those maps will stand for the next decade. Republicans will control the process because they have the majority in both the Indiana House and Senate.

While the big-ticket items wait, lawmakers are keeping busy hashing out the details of plenty of controversial bills. A Senate committee plans a Feb. 2 hearing on an immigration proposal that would require police to ask for proof of citizenship or immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally.

A proposal to fix the state's unemployment fund -- which pays out millions more in jobless benefits than it takes in from employers -- will get a hearing in a House committee Tuesday.

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School choice is an important issue to move

forward. That might makes school systems

get serious about their own improvement.

-- Posted by patriotgames on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 12:19 PM

School choice is an important issue. Did you know that most charter schools in Indiana see less than 50% of their 3rd-8th graders pass the ISTEP. In fact there are several charter schools that have less than 30% passing. Is this where we want our tax money to go? This bill not only pushes for vouchers but could force the public school system to pay for transportation to the charter schools. This to me is outrageous. The bills being proposed will significantly hurt our school system NOT help. I agree that school reform is necessary but there is no research OR hard evidence that vouchers will help the school systems in Indiana, especially in our area. In fact, the statistics say the opposite. A lot of these charter schools are out to make a profit. Because there is no over sight or rules for charter schools they can make a profit running a failing school.

-- Posted by kphillips on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 8:09 PM

Here is another question I have: the state wants more accountability for teachers and schools, so why are they writing a bill to give money to charter schools that have no accountability under state law? Charter school teachers don't even have to be licensed. If we feel the way we spend education money needs to change, why don't we fully fund full day kindergarten (like Mitch promised at the beginning of his first term) or create state mandated preschool? Educational research and evidence from states incorporating this show these things can make a significant difference, especially in the achievement of under-priveleged children.

-- Posted by kphillips on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 8:20 PM

Vouchers would be bad for Clay County schools. We can pretend that schools will have the same amount of money per student regardless of vouchers. However, the reality will be that there will be less money spread around more schools. Indiana's constitution calls for a general and uniform school system, free of charge, equally open to all. How is giving tax money to private schools that are not free of charge and not equally open to all (you do have to apply to most private schools and be accepted by private schools) fullfilling Indiana's constitutional mandate for a free education? It doesn't make sense to say Obamacare is unconstitutional but a voucher system is ok.

-- Posted by kphillips on Wed, Jan 26, 2011, at 3:20 PM

My problem with Mitch's speech is that Asian children spend 2x to 3x more time in a classroom than their American counterparts. Is their success because of better teachers or is it because they spend so much more time in the classroom? Another point is that Asian and Indian schools don't educate ALL children. If you have a disability or live in extreme poverty you probably don't attend school, especially at an older age. In America (thankfully), we are committed to educating ALL children through grade 12. Comparing Asian and American schools is like comparing apples and oranges. If you don't think poverty or learning disabilities affects a student's achievement, or if you think a student will get the same educational experience in a classroom of 35 that they would in a classroom of 25, I don't care who the teacher is, then you are seriously deluded. I feel we need quality teachers, obviously, but to say the difference between Asian student achievement and American student achievement is only the teachers is GROSSLY over simplifying a very complex issue. I'll take what we have if it means that ALL children have a chance to be educated. There is only so much money to go around. If we pass these bills we will find out too late the serious consequences to the state of our education system. A voucher system just takes away from students and parents that can not afford a private education furthering the gap between the haves and have nots.

I guess you're right Isn't_it_obvious. The Indiana State constitution only says we must provide a free education to everyone equally. Just because a voucher system will dimish public education doesn't make it unconstitutional. When we pass this measure we really can emmulate our Asian counterparts and provide a really good education to those that can afford it and let the rest fall by the wayside in a crumbling public education system. My point -- don't give up on public education. Considering the scope of our education system there are a lot of things that are right, so let's fix the things that need improvement with research based remedies and celebrate the things we do well. Indiana has already lost millions of dollars trying to privatize goverment (consider the toll roads that are now bankrupt and in need of repair, consider family and children's services -- how much did we pay IBM for this colossal failure?) let's not waste millions more by giving vouchers to charter and private schools that have no accountability for student achievement. The reality is that when the majority of them fail, as is the reality now, the children who have been failed (children achieving below grade level with serious academic deficiencies) will be dumped back into the public education system, which will have less teachers and less resources. How can this be good for our education system?

-- Posted by kphillips on Wed, Jan 26, 2011, at 8:04 PM

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