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The 4 Big-issue Bills Approved On The Final Day Of Statehouse Committees

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Noah Coffey
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

1. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE 

The House Judiciary Committee Monday revived a bill that reforms Indiana’s medical malpractice law.

The bill raises the amount someone can collect for a single malpractice incident, from $1.25 million to $1.65 million. It hasn't been raised in 18 years.

Supporters say this accounts for inflation and prevents future legislators from having to deal with the issue. Others say the increase would further discourage physicians from working in Indiana.

The bill passed 11-1.

2. FANTASY SPORTS REGULATION 

The House Ways and Means Committee Monday scaled back a bill regulating daily fantasy sports. 

Just five days ago, the House Public Policy Committee installed large operating fees into the bill - a $75,000 initial fee, with a $20,000 yearly renewal for fantasy sports operators.  The House’s fiscal committee, Ways and Means, saw fit to decrease those to a $50,000 initial fee and a $5,000 renewal.

The committee also removed language requiring daily fantasy operators to withhold income tax from players’ winnings. 

The committee’s approved change would create a study committee this year to investigate tax withholding in daily fantasy sports. 

The bill advanced to the House floor with a 19-4 vote.  

3. REGIONAL CITIES/ROAD FUNDING 

House Republicans want to tie the fate of their road funding plan to money for the Regional Cities Initiative and Hoosier pensioners. 

The Senate and the governor have opposed the House infrastructure proposal because it’s funded in part by gas and cigarette tax increases.  So House lawmakers put their plan into a bill with two issues that enjoy broader support.

The first is funding - from the tax amnesty program - for a third Regional Cities Initiative winner – that’s the program aimed at helping bolster regional economic development.

The second, called “the 13th check,” would provide additional pension money for Hoosier retirees.

The House Ways & Means committee approved the bill 13-8, sending it to the House floor.

4. TEACHER BONUS PAY 

A teacher-pay bill declared dead in the Senate last week is alive and well in the House.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) said the Senate would abandon a bill intended to attract more teachers by allowing school districts to pay some teachers more if that's what it takes to keep them. State law already allows bonuses for elementary school math and reading teachers, and the state has a merit pay bonus pool.

He says teachers viewed the bill as an attack on collective bargaining.

But the Senate had already approved a different version of the bill earlier in the session, and the House Education Committee approved that bill on party lines Monday without any changes.

If the full House doesn't alter the bill on Tuesday, approval would send it straight to Governor Pence.

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.