Legislature Prepares to Set Summer Schedule

May 20, 2013

Top state lawmakers will meet at the Statehouse this week to establish the General Assembly’s top priorities for this summer’s study committees, but some are worried about the high number of issues they’ll have to consider this year.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Indiana Legislative Council, which governs the legislature when it’s not in session, is meeting earlier than usual this year – and that’s no accident.  Senate President Pro Tem David Long says it’s partly to encourage study committees to begin their work earlier as they face what he says is “an inordinate number” of topics. 

Issues lawmakers have to study this year include investigating the Common Core educational standards, school safety, a comprehensive criminal code overhaul and central Indiana mass transit. 

Long says much of the legislation that will move through the General Assembly next year will be developed by study committees.

“This is a process that people really don’t pay a lot of attention to because we’re not in session but a great deal of work is done in these committees and a lot of important work,” Long said.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath agrees study committees can be useful, but he says that can’t happen if there’s too many.

“So many issues have been shoved into the summer, I think it’s going to be hard to give very many of them justice,” Pelath said. “It’s not going to be like you do a really good job at two or three and then you do a mediocre job at the rest of them.  I think when you have too much, everything suffers.”

Long says he and other legislative leaders are considering changing the study committee system to make it easier to handle bigger loads like the one it faces this summer.