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IN Legislative Council examines summer study committees

Top state lawmakers will meet at the Statehouse this week to establish the General Assembly’s top priorities for this summer’s study committees.

The Indiana Legislative Council, which governs the legislature when it’s not in session, is meeting earlier than usual this year. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) 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.  And 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.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) 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.  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.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.