David Long

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

Republican legislative leaders say a formal study on creating civil rights protections for the LGBT community won’t happen this year -- but they say they’ll be thinking about the issue regardless.

Republican leaders admitted earlier this year that controversy surrounding the religious freedom bill fast-forwarded the debate around adding LGBT protections to the state’s civil rights statute. 

New Members Named To State Board of Education

May 27, 2015
NYC Department of Education / http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm

The leaders of the State House and Senate have made their initial appointments to the revamped State Board of Education. Byron Ernest was appointed to the board by House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis). That announcement came less than three hours after Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne) announced his appointee, Steve Yager.

K. Latham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

Legislation to eliminate Indiana’s straight ticket voting system – or even to study its elimination – failed to clear the General Assembly this session. But some lawmakers – including legislative leaders – say a study committee on the issue is still possible.

Straight ticket voting allows people to vote for every candidate from one party with one check of a box on their ballot. A bill eliminating the practice cleared the House.

Rachel Morello / http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/

  The bill removing Glenda Ritz as chairman of the State Board of Education will also remove at least one board member, and possibly more. Ritz is the only elected member of the state board -- the governor appoints the other 10.

The old law said no more than six of those 10 could be from the same party. The new law cuts that number to five.

That will force the replacement of one of six Republicans on the board.   

The bill also shifts two of the governor‘s appointments to House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne).

_chrisUK / https://www.flickr.com/photos/_chrisuk/

House Speaker Brian Bosma says his one disappointment from the 2015 legislative session is a failure to boost infrastructure funding as much as he’d like.

Lawmakers increased infrastructure funding by more than two hundred million dollars in the 2013 budget to take care of state and local roads. And those levels remained the same but didn’t increase in the budget approved last week.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long says lawmakers had to make some tough budget decisions.

Brandon Smith / http://www.ipbs.org/

During a rally at the Statehouse Monday, members of the Indiana Pastors Alliance used words like “shock,” “outrage,” and “betrayal,” while accusing GOP leaders of “selling out” religious liberty when they passed the religious freedom bill’s “fix.” 

But Indiana Pastors Alliance executive director Ron Johnson says the fix was akin to passing a gay rights bill.  Johnson says GOP leaders “cowardly capitulated” to the pressure of what he calls the “gay mafia,” a “media lynch mob,” and big business.  And he says leaders need to be held accountable.

Lawmakers Could Finish Budget Deal Today

Apr 28, 2015
Jim Nix / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimnix/5039079018

The specifics of a new state budget are expected today. House and Senate leaders have pledged to give legislators 24 hours to look over the budget before a vote.

With the session required to end tomorrow, that makes today the deadline, and House Speaker Brian Bosma says he expects a bill to be made public this afternoon.

The House and Senate proposed about the same total spending, but had slightly different school funding formulas. And Bosma says he’s still looking for more money for charter schools.

Indiana Economic Development Corporation

Legislative leaders say an aggressive push by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation likely won’t influence final negotiations over how much money to put into the governor’s Regional Cities Initiative. 

The governor’s proposed budget puts $42 million a year towards the IEDC project.  The House and Senate scaled that back to $10 million a year. 

As the session nears its end, the IEDC is strongly urging lawmakers to pump more money into the initiative. 

Keith Cooper / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cooperweb/8363160192

With only three days left in session, lawmakers are crafting a final version of the budget, and doing so with less money than they’d planned. 

Senate Leader David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) both say money for K-12 education is safe – the $466 million increase in both House and Senate budgets will remain intact. 

And Long says they’re standing firm on maintaining a strong budget reserve.

“I think it’s important to do that given our recent memories of how tough it was when the recession hit,” Long says.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Legislative leaders say they‘re open to expanding an emergency needle-exchange program in Scott County to other parts of the state, as long as it goes beyond needles.

Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says legislators are working to expand a House-passed needle-exchange bill to incorporate provisions for HIV testing, drug treatment and enforcement. Long says it’d be a step toward combating drug runners who use Indiana as a storefront for their products.