Indiana News

Indiana related news items and stories.

The legislative focus of this year’s session wasn’t a mystery. Lawmakers already spent more than a year debating road funding. And so it wasn’t a surprise when Gov. Eric Holcomb told the General Assembly this in the first weeks of session.

“I will work with you to establish a plan that invests in the new projects for the future that ensures Indiana will remain The Crossroads of America,” Holcomb said.

But it was not the only big goal – or debate – this session.

Legislation To End ISTEP Sent To Governor

Apr 22, 2017

It’s (almost) official. ISTEP+ is out. ILEARN is in.

Lawmakers pushed through legislation Friday to develop new statewide testing program known as Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network or ILEARN. The legislation also creates multiple pathways to meet high school graduation requirements.

The Republican-led Indiana General Assembly crafted a two-year state budget that spends about $32 billion while maintaining what Speaker Brian Bosma calls a “healthy reserve.”

Even as Indiana’s new revenue forecast gave an optimistic outlook, House and Senate fiscal leaders didn’t waiver from their conservative appropriations.

Yet Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb achieved some of his legislative goals during his first budget session.

Legislation is headed to the governor that eliminates many of the state’s monopoly-creating, vaping regulations.

While the legislation deletes several rules, it installs new regulations, including certain packaging and labeling requirements and a mandate that manufacturers disclose their ingredient list with state regulators.

It does not prohibit online sales.

Lawmakers completed a temporary rewrite of the state’s alcohol carryout laws to address a convenience store that found a legal work-around.

Ricker’s acquired restaurant permits for two of its convenience stores. Those permits allow them to sell cold beer and hard liquor for carryout – which grocery and convenience stores have never been allowed to do.

K-12 Funding Inches Up In 2-Year Indiana Budget

Apr 22, 2017

Indiana schools will receive more money per student as part of a two-year state budget compromise hashed out between House and Senate lawmakers in the past few days.

Funding for education, which is more than half of the state’s $32 billion biennium spending plan, includes $345 million in new dollars for English-language learners, private school vouchers and a 1.6 percent increase in per-student funding in 2018 fiscal year. That will increase to 1.7 percent in 2019 fiscal year.

A new Indiana plan to expand state-funded preschool allows the program to extend to 15 new counties, ties it to the state’s private school voucher program and includes a controversial option for online preschool.

Currently, the $10 million state-funded On My Way Pre-K program serves around 1,500 low-income students in five counties. Expanding preschool access in Indiana has been a key goal of lawmakers this session, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Indiana Unemployment Rate Lowest In Nearly 16 Years

Apr 21, 2017

The Indiana unemployment rate dropped 0.02 percent in March, down to 3.9 percent. That’s the lowest rate since May of 2001.

Yet the Hoosier private sector lost 1,500 jobs last month, primarily driven by a significant decline in the Professional and Business Services sector. That’s the third time in the last four months the private sector lost jobs.

Cursive Writing Finally Gets Its Day At The Statehouse, Kind Of

Apr 21, 2017

“Should learning cursive be necessary?”

That’s the question Indiana lawmakers voted Thursday to require the Department of Education to ask school teachers, administrators, and school boards. A bill now heading for the Governor’s desk mandates the department to survey whether those groups are in favor or opposed to mandatory instruction of cursive writing.

Cursive writing, whether it’s crucial for schooling or a relic of the past, has been debated for years in Indiana.

Governor Signs Bill Expanding Lead Testing In East Chicago

Apr 20, 2017

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation Thursday designating parts of East Chicago, Indiana, as “areas of special concern.”

The bill indefinitely extends parts of Holcomb’s emergency declaration to expand lead testing in the city’s soil and water.

 

Muncie Schools are pushing back against a bill in the legislature that would allow the state to intervene in the district’s finances.

Hoosier Farmers Begin Planting 2017's Cash Crops

Apr 20, 2017

Hoosiers will see more farm equipment in the fields in the next few weeks, as spring corn and soybean planting ramps up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers in Indiana and nationwide to plant more soybeans than ever this year, while corn acreage looks to hold steady.

Purdue University agronomist and self-named “corn guy” Bob Nielsen says corn prices are still lackluster, with plenty in storage, and that’s driven soybean prices up.

 

Convenience store owner Jay Ricker says he’s been targeted by the General Assembly in proposed legislation on alcohol carryout permits.

The proposed legislative language would bar Ricker from renewing his permits next year.

At issue are restaurant permits Ricker’s was able to secure at two convenience stores. Those permits allow them to sell cold beer and hard liquor for carryout – previously, the sole right of liquor stores and restaurants.

GOP Leaders Unveil Final Road Funding Package Details

Apr 20, 2017

 

Republican legislative leaders unveiled what Speaker Brian Bosma calls the “best infrastructure program” in state history.

GOP leaders say the funding package they’ve put together will eventually generate about $1.2 billion a year for state and local roads. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says that plan will last the next two decades.

“We’re not kicking the can down the road like they do in Washington,” Long says.

Three Finalists Chosen For Supreme Court Opening

Apr 19, 2017

The Judicial Nominating Commission announced the finalists Gov. Eric Holcomb will choose from to become Indiana’s 110th Supreme Court Justice.

After about seven hours of deliberations – on the heels of two days interviewing the 11 semi-finalists – the commission announced the three finalists: Clark County Judge Vicki Carmichael, Wabash County Judge Christopher Goff, and Boone County Judge Michael Kincaid.

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