Karen Tallian

Kyle May / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kylemay/

The Senate Wednesday narrowly approved a bill eliminating the state’s common construction wage after senators spent more than three hours over the past two days debating the issue of repealing Indiana’s minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.

Opponents of the bill such as Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) note that the common wage helps support job training programs and ensures public projects are properly built by well-trained, highly paid workers.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana Senate leaders Thursday rolled out their version of the state budget, and there are some differences from their House GOP colleagues in a number of key areas:

HIGHER EDUCATION

In total, higher education spending makes up 12-percent of the Senate’s proposed two-year, $31.5 billion budget.

That’s considerably more than what the House suggested.

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) acknowledges the increase and says it would move state universities in the right direction.

Energy Efficiency Bill Awaits Gov's Signature

Apr 8, 2015
Richard Rutter / https://www.flickr.com/photos/clagnut/

An energy efficiency plan requested by Governor Pence is on its way to his desk.

The Senate has given final approval to a bill requiring electric utilities to submit conservation plans to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission every three years.

Senate Utilities Chairman Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says by going through the IURC instead of an outside agency, the plan will be cheaper than the Energize Indiana plan implemented by former Governor Mitch Daniels – a program that was repealed by the legislature last year.

Senate Passes Balanced Budget Amendment

Feb 25, 2015
Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

The Indiana Senate Tuesday passed a resolution to add a balanced budget amendment to the state’s constitution.  Governor Mike Pence requested the measure in his State of the State address earlier this year.  But lawmakers are divided over the amendment’s necessity.

Jinghua Tu / WFIU-WTIU News

Senate lawmakers Tuesday approved a bill allowing religious and faith-based organizations to hire employees based on religion.

Sen. Travis Holdman’s, R-Markle, bill says organizations with a religious background that have contracts with state or local governments, such as universities, child care facilities and hospitals, can make hiring decisions based on religion.

Holdman says the legislation would keep Indiana in line with federal law.

Members of a legislative panel are asking the Indiana Public Retirement System Board (INPRS) to back down from its decision allowing a private company to manage part of public employees’ pensions. 

House Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) says he will not advance a bill addressing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Legislation that passed the Senate earlier this session directed the Pence administration to negotiate with the federal government for healthcare expansion using key portions of the Healthy Indiana Plan, including health-savings accounts that consumers pay into for their own healthcare.  It also urged federal Medicaid dollars be given to the state in block grant form. 

Democratic lawmakers say it’s time for Indiana to begin a serious discussion about healthcare, including potential expansion of Medicaid.  They have proposed legislation dealing with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed bill authored by Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) would create a state-run healthcare exchange – a kind of marketplace for insurance companies and customers. It also would expand the state’s Medicaid program to add as many as 400,000 Hoosiers.

A new coalition of state policymakers and community activists wants to spend more time and money on addressing the Indiana workforce’s skills gap. 

The Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition is comprised of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, government officials, educators and community leaders.  The group is calling for an increased emphasis on middle-skills training, those jobs which require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

A bill in the Indiana Senate would boost compensation to State Fair stage collapse victims and give more money to full-day kindergarten.  The money comes from recently-discovered state revenues.

The bill would distribute $5 million among the victims on top of the $5 million already disbursed through the state’s tort claim fund.  The money would be given to the estates of those who died and fully-reimburse the medical expenses submitted by the other victims.

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