2017 Indiana Legislative Session

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We turn on the faucet and expect the water to flow freely, but it isn't always that simple a procedure.  The flow is oftentimes interrupted by leaks in antiquated pipes.  Water utilities may not make regular inspections of their piping to search for these leaks.

TheStatehouseFile.com

Today:  on this Reporter's Roundtable, we bring in "Times of Northwest Indiana" reporters Giles Bruce and Carmen McCollum to talk about the stories they covered in print and online for the newspaper.  We also bring you an extended conversation with State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) about the efforts to improve the state's water infrastructure improvement.  Besides his work in the Indiana General Assembly, Charbonneau participated in a recent Great Lakes states policy workshop on the issue.

Brandon Smith, IPBS News

Today:  It's Reporters Roundtable Thursday, where we ask reporters from northwest Indiana media to talk about their stories of recent days.  This week we have Bob Kasarda, Joseph Pete and Dan Carden with the Times of Northwest Indiana, Jon Gard of the LaPorte Herald Argus and Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore.

Indiana Senate Democrats

Today:  An extended conversation with northwest Indiana State Senator Karen Tallian (D) about the 2017 General Assembly session, the issues and the bills that addressed those issues and her thoughts on what might come up on the agenda of the 2018 Indiana Legislature session.

Northwest Indiana financial advisor Greg Hammer joins us again to talk about the Trump administration tax reform program, as it now exists, and some common-sense advice to high school and college graduates as they get into the workplace and start earning a paycheck.

WXIN-TV

State Senator Karen Tallian talked with us for Wednesday's "Regionally Speaking" about how the 2017 General Assembly session went, in her opinion, and about the major issues which were reviewed and passed on to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature -- including major infrastructure like roads and bridges and how to pay for those projects and the two-year Indiana state budget. 

Karen also talks about what may come up in the 2018 session.

Indiana House Republicans via Pinterest

State Representative Hal Slager (R-Schererville) joined us on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about the just-completed 2017 General Assembly session and the big issues that lawmakers addressed. 

He also talks about the bills he introduced and supported that affect northwest Indiana residents and businesses -- including road and bridge improvements, and his bill that sets up the mechanism to support the South Shore Line's "double tracking" between Gary and Michigan City and the proposed "West Lake Corridor" project. 

Indiana House Republicans

Today:   A conversation with State Representative Hal Slager (R-Schererville) about the just-completed 2017 General Assembly session and the big issues that lawmakers addressed.  He also talks about the bills he introduced and supported that affect northwest Indiana residents and businesses -- including road and bridge improvements, and his bill that sets up the mechanism to support the South Shore Line's "double tracking" between Gary and Michigan City and the proposed "West Lake Corridor" project.  

Sharon Jackson / Lakeshore Public Radio

LOWELL - Governor Eric Holcomb is looking toward what we, collectively as a state, want Indiana to be in five to 20 years.  He spoke of the accomplishments of the 2017 Indiana Legislative session with Lakeshore Public Radio's Sharon Jackson and what he thinks will help get the state to where it needs to be.  

The Governor said the state needs to address the drug epidemic that's sweeping across the entire country.  

Holcomb is also looking toward protecting some important recognition that Indiana had recently received the top ranking for state government effectiveness.

IU Northwest

Today:   Tom Pappas of the city of Portage veterans committee joins us in the studio with the latest on what the committee will talk about on Wednesday night in Portage, along with how well Hoosier veterans' groups did in their negotiations with state legislators, and a big "scam alert" for veterans who call the wrong VA Choice toll-free phone number. (Hint: The official number is an 866, not 800 phone number).

Waylan Cooley, Photographer

One of Indiana's newest members of the General Assembly came into the Lakeshore Public Radio studios on Monday to talk about his first trip to Indianapolis to serve as a lawmaker and a bill he sponsored that started out his Indiana Legislature career. 

Gary Community School Corp.

Today:  An extended conversation with Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville), on his first (and very busy) General Assembly session.  He talks at length about his Senate Enrolled Act 567, which creates the mechanism for a state-appointed emergency manager for the Gary Community School Corp., a financial management board and where the Mayor of Gary, the elected School Board and Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt fit into the efforts in helping resolve the academically- and financially-troubled school district's longtime problems.  A public forum with Melton and his north Lake County

Lakeshore Public Media

Today:  It's another Reporters' Round Table discussion of the big news stories of the week here in northwest Indiana.

Times of Northwest Indiana health and healthcare business reporter Giles Bruce, Post-Tribune reporters Carole Carlson and Carrie Napoleon and Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations education reporter Claire Mcinerny join us to talk about the stories and issues.

NWI Times

The Indiana Gaming Commission issued its March revenue report from the Hoosier State's casinos and analyst Ed Feigenbaum came on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about how the northwest Indiana riverboats did -- as well as about gaming-related legislation that came up during the 2017 General Assembly session. 

Ed also talked about other bills and issues that were debated and passed by lawmakers this past session.  Here's the conversation, aired on Tuesday.

Brandon Smith, IPBS News

Today:  A conversation with Ed Feigenbaum, the creator and editor of the Indiana Gaming Insight and Indiana Legislative Insight newsletters,  about the March 2017 revenue report from the northwest Indiana casinos, the impact of outside forces on the riverboats -- and Ed's review of some of the big bills from the just-ended 2017 General Assembly session.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez joins us with some good news for the city of Gary -- a recent survey from the website shows that Gary mortgage holders are the third least over-leveraged in the country.

Sr. Joseph's College

Today:  A group of St. Joseph's College faculty are suing the Catholic-affiliated college in Rensselaer for how the college is handling the suspension of operations and their employment status.  One of the faculty members talks about the group's frustration over not knowing when their employment will officially end and if they'll get any severance-related benefits or help in finding new jobs.

Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University Northwest officials say it took nearly 15 years of planning, persistence and efforts to get some vital legislative support... but lawmakers finally approved construction of a new instructional facility at Purdue University Northwest’s Hammond Campus.

The General Assembly early Saturday morning allocated $35.1 million for construction of the Bioscience Innovation Building on the Hammond Campus.  It will house state-of-the-art instructional and research facilities for nursing, biological sciences and STEM education.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Howey Politics Indiana

Today:   Howey Politics Indiana editor-publisher Brian Howey joins us to talk about some of the topics in his recent newsletter columns, as well as his views on the final days of the 2017 General Assembly session.

 

Cyberbullying is the topic of a recent "CounterPoint with Garrard McClendon" television conversation.  His guests were Cathie Bledsoe of the Indiana State Police, Northwest Indiana Times editor Bob Heisse and School Town of Highland Superintendent Brian Smith.

 

 

A bill advanced by the House this week would allow governments to charge people up to $20 an hour for public records searches that take longer than two hours. Critics argue that the public shouldn’t have to pay to access public records. Former Gov. Mike Pence vetoed a similar measure two years ago.

IPBS

Today: our first "Regionally Speaking" Reporters' Roundtable discussion of the big local stories of the week, including updates on the East Chicago lead-arsenic contamination cleanup and the impact of the contamination on the West Calumet Housing Project.  The EPA Secretary  and HUD Secretary will visit East Chicago to see first-hand the issues and the cleanup.  We also discuss the investigation into a leak of the chemical chromium-6 from a U.S. Steel waste outlet into Burns Waterway in Portage, just hundreds of feet from Lake Michigan.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

The Indiana General Assembly is in the final weeks of the 2017 Session, and northwest Indiana lawmakers are busy working on passage of bills that they sponsored or co-sponsored as well as other measures, including funding for transportation improvements and a new two-year state budget. 

Times of Northwest Indiana's man at the Statehouse -- Dan Carden -- was on "Regionally Speaking" on Tuesday to offer an update on the important issues before legislators.  Here's the conversation.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Today:  Northwest Indiana Times Statehouse reporter Dan Carden joins us for an update on what local legislators are working on, in the final days of the 2017 General Assembly session.

Senate Advances Budget To Conference Committee

Apr 6, 2017

The Senate approved its version of a new two-year state budget 39-9 Thursday.

Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), the budget’s author, praised the bill for not increasing taxes, funding the fight against Indiana’s drug epidemic, and focusing on education issues.

But many Democrats took issue with that last point, including Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington), who says the Republican plan doesn’t fund education enough.

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