2015 Session

Politics & Government
4:23 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Bipartisan Bill Aims to Study Redistricting Reform

A bipartisan bill introduced this week would create a study committee to investigate how Indiana redraws legislative districts.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana Business Research Services

Changes to Indiana’s redistricting system likely won’t take place until at least 2017 under a new proposal from House legislative leaders that would create a redistricting study committee.

The committee would be charged with studying redistricting for the next two years, with a report due in December 2016.  Under the bill, the committee would consider several issues, including state and federal redistricting laws, the cost of a reform effort, and redistricting systems in other states. 

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2015 Session
4:14 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

State Aims to Reduce Infant Mortality Rate

The public awareness campaign Labor of Love aims to educate new and expectant mothers.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The State Department of Health is spending the next year reaching out to new and expectant mothers in  an effort to curb the state’s infant mortality rate. The public awareness campaign called Labor of Love was launched Wednesday.

Indiana’s rate of infant deaths is one of the worst in the country. First Lady Karen Pence says the Labor  of Love campaign, meant to reduce that rate, will be carried on all major TV stations, at bus depots,  in radio ads, and in a variety of publications. 

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2015 Session
5:15 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Pence Budget Would Boost K-12 Funding by $200 Million

OMB Director Chris Atkins (center) and Budget Director Brian Bailey presented Gov. Mike Pence's budget to the state budget committee Thursday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants the 2015 meeting of the General Assembly to be an “education session,” and the budget Pence proposed Thursday shares that focus.

The proposal contains a $200 million increase in K-12 school funding over the next two years. That includes about $41 million more specifically set aside for charter schools. 

Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Atkins says that money would be used to increase per-pupil funding by $1,500 and would reduce inequity between funding of charters and traditional public schools.

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2015 Session
3:25 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Senate Democrats Push for Minimum Wage Hike in 2015

Indiana Sen. Tim Lanane spoke to the press Wednesday about the Democrats' agenda in 2015.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana Senate Democrats say a budget session is all about prioritizing – and their priority is to help working class Hoosiers.

The top item on the Senate Democrats’ agenda is what they call “giving Hoosier families a raise.”  Portage Senator Karen Tallian says that begins with increasing the state’s minimum wage. 

She notes 29 states have a higher minimum wage than Indiana.

“If you work 40 hours a week, you should not be below the federal poverty level,” Tallian said. “Indiana has a household income problem.”

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Transportation
5:25 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Pence Urges Lawmakers to Release Road Money

Gov. Mike Pence has asked the State Budget Committee to release the rest of the Major Moves 2020 money.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants the State Budget Committee to release the second half of the Major Moves 2020 fund.  That would amount to $200 million dollars for road projects.

Two years ago, lawmakers put aside $400 million into what they called the Major Moves 2020 fund.  It was meant for long-term, future projects.  Pence last year secured the release of half of the fund to add lanes to major interstates.  The governor Tuesday announced he will ask the State Budget Committee to approve the transfer of the remaining 200 million.  He says it will be used for capacity building.

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Education
3:14 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Legislators Have a Tall Task Balancing Funding, Education Proposals in 2015

Indiana Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana GOP

Education promises to be a big topic during the upcoming legislative session. Both Governor Pence and House Republicans have outlined major school initiatives they’d like to see come to fruition next year. But what the state can afford remains to be seen.

Legislative leaders have pledged to balance the budget this session without raising taxes. That could prove challenging, since several state agencies have submitted requests that would require extra money.

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Politics & Environment
2:58 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Calls Come from Different Corners for Water Policy Reform

Environmental and business groups are starting to sound the alarm bells on the need for comprehensive water policies in Indiana.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently released a report detailing the critical need for a state-driven water plan to identify resources and develop ways to deliver water to underserved areas.  

Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda says there are plenty of ways to help serve future water needs.

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Politics & Government
1:45 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Statehouse Leaders Weigh-in on Redistricting Reform

Indiana's current congressional districts. Some advocates are pushing for a bipartisan approach when the next maps are redrawn
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Voices calling for Indiana to create an independent redistricting commission are getting louder this session.

Last session, Speaker Brian Bosma coauthored legislation creating a redistricting commission, with members appointed by legislative leaders of both parties.  While that bill passed the House, it never received a hearing in the Senate. 

Bosma says he will offer the bill again, but notes both chambers need to buy-in this time.

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Health & Science
7:07 am
Mon December 22, 2014

American Cancer Society Calls for More Funding for Services

The American Cancer Society says Indiana isn’t doing nearly enough to support its breast and cervical cancer screening program.

Government relations director Brianna Herndon says going into a budget session, cancer prevention programs are one of the first items on the Cancer Action Network’s to-do list. 

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Politics & Government
4:18 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Leaders Find Optimism in Latest Revenue Forecast

Thursday's revenue forecast is the last before legislators convene for the 2015 budget session.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

State leaders say they’re cautiously optimistic about Indiana’s fiscal future after a new revenue forecast unveiled Thursday predicts two to three percent growth in the next budget cycle.

That growth would mean more than $800 million in new money over the next two years. 

But Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says even that kind of increase shouldn’t start a spending frenzy.  He notes that even before the forecast he’s been receiving budget requests that total almost double that amount.

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