Indiana state senators are used to hearing from special guests during the legislative session, but Thursday lawmakers had an out of this world experience as NASA Commander and Hoosier native Kevin Ford addressed the Senate from aboard the International Space Station.
Indiana’s voucher program could be significantly expanded by loosened eligibility requirements under legislation being considered by the General Assembly.
The state’s current voucher program is available to any student who spends at least one year in public school beyond kindergarten and has an annual income of $64,000 or less for a family of four. Proposed legislation would remove the public school attendance requirement. It would also allow voucher recipients who meet the initial income level to keep their voucher if their income goes up to as much as $127,000 a year.
Governor Mike Pence is making a change in leadership at the Department of Child Services, appointing a juvenile court judge as director of the embattled agency.
Lake County Superior Court judge Mary Beth Bonaventura will become the third DCS director in the last seven months. She has spent three decades working in the juvenile division, experience Governor Pence says makes her uniquely qualified for her new role.
Bonaventura said she’s already familiar with some of the issues plaguing DCS, including high turnover rates among case workers.
State lawmakers are pushing legislation that would create a financial literacy curriculum for the state, encouraging schools to teach skills such as investing, balancing a checkbook, and applying for loans.
Supporters of the legislation say students are graduating high school without basic financial skills.
Greenwood Republican Senator Brent Waltz says that’s not a new problem.
The fears of opponents of Indiana’s Right to Work law appear to be bolstered by statistics showing a significant decrease in the state’s union membership since 2011. But leaders on both sides of the debate say Right to Work likely had little effect.
Union membership in Indiana dropped about 20% from 2011 to 2012, just as Indiana’s Right to Work law, which prohibits union contracts that require workers to pay dues for representation, went into effect.
Indiana legislators say they are working in a bipartisan way to bring all the elements of Indiana’s education and workforce development sectors together to reduce the state’s unemployment, with legislation that would establish the Indiana Career Council.
Speaker Brian Bosma, a co-sponsor of the Career Council bill, said various entities like the state’s career and technical education districts, regional economic development organizations and Ivy Tech campuses and regions are often disjointed.
Legislation aimed at helping Indiana gaming facilities compete with other states and bolster struggling attendance cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.
Legislation unanimously approved by the Senate Public Policy committee adds mobile gaming devices to off-track betting sites and eliminates taxes on free-play coupons. It also allows live-dealer games in racetrack casinos, something the bill’s author, Crawfordsville Republican Senator Phil Boots, says will boost job creation.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would place stricter limits on how much ephedrine and pseudoephedrine is bought and sold in the state. Those drugs are two of the key ingredients used in methamphetamine production.