David Long

 

Legislative leaders laid out their vision for the upcoming session as newly elected and re-elected lawmakers were sworn in. It’s the event known as Organization Day, the ceremonial gathering of a new General Assembly each November.

The majority party leaders – this year, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – called for renewed focus and bipartisanship as they tackle the job of crafting a long-term, sustainable road funding plan. Bosma’s call comes with only one caveat.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Legislative leaders meet with Gov. Pence Friday morning to begin final negotiations on how to pay for road repairs, and whether taxes will go up to do it.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) is adamant the Senate won't go along with House Republicans' call to raise taxes on gas and cigarettes -- he says there needs to be a more thorough study of just what the state is building and the options for paying for it.

Jamelah E. / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamelah/27848559

As health groups advocate for the cigarette tax hike in House Republicans' road funding plan, opposition to the bill say that if people stop smoking, the state would receive less money.

Anti-smoking groups argue the opponents should support this one as a public-health measure, but Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says it’s impossible to separate the tax hike from the road repairs it's intended to pay for. 

Indiana Economic Development Corporation / http://indianaregionalcities.com/

Full funding for all three winners of Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative is in jeopardy after Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said Thursday a bill to provide those dollars is stalled in the House. 

The legislature last year set aside $84 million from the state’s 2015 tax amnesty program to pay for the Regional Cities Initiative.  The money was meant to be split in half, with $42 million going to each winner. 

Dave Dugdale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/

Senate Republicans have made clear they're not enthusiastic about tax hikes in a House road funding bill. But they're not crazy about a tax cut in the bill either.

House Republicans added a sixth-of-a-point income tax cut to their road funding bill.

Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) acknowledged it was a sweetener to try to win Senate support for the rest of the plan. But it doesn't appear to be working.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says road funding and a tax cut are, in his words, “apples and oranges.”

Indiana Public Broadcasting

The dispute over Congressman Todd Young's petition signatures could lead to a change in Indiana's ballot access laws.

Since at least 1986, candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, or president have needed to collect at least 500 signatures in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says the possibility of a leading candidate for U-S Senate being kicked off the ballot makes it a "reasonable assumption" that legislators will discuss whether that rule is outdated.

Joe Hall / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joebeone/292562771

Eleven presidential candidates and 52 congressional hopefuls have filed for Indiana's primary ballot.

All eight remaining Republican presidential candidates have qualified for the ballot, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who quit the race the same day his campaign turned in his petition signatures.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) will appear on the Democratic ballot.

All seven U.S. House members seeking reelection in Indiana will first have to survive primary challenges.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Republican legislative leaders say Governor Mike Pence Tuesday was clear in his State of the State about the necessity of protecting religious freedom when it comes to the debate over LGBT rights, but Democratic leaders say Pence failed to provide any leadership.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Republican legislative leaders won't rule out tax increases as a potential solutions for Indiana's road funding issues. 

House Speaker Brian Bosma says the GOP caucus' plan relies on three principles: that it's responsible, comprehensive and sustainable. And he says the House Republican bill would be, in his words, "loaded with options."

"People worried about voting for a potential gas increases in the future?" he asks. "Maybe it needs to happen. Registration fee on electric vehicles? Perhaps they need to pay toward our roads as well."

Daniel Incandela / https://www.flickr.com/photos/incandopolis/3789053490/

A proposal to move 700 gaming positions from Rising Sun to a new casino in Indianapolis may have more support in Rising Sun than in Indy.

Rising Sun Casino owner Full House Resorts has proposed a casino on the land which was home to the old Indianapolis International Airport.

Rising Sun Mayor April Hautman says the positions Full House Resorts wants to reallocate to Indy aren't being used anyway – the existing facility is allowed to employ up to 1,400 people, but only has space for half that many.

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