Tim Lanane

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Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, says the General Assembly missed a prime opportunity for guaranteed job creation this session by not immediately approving live dealers for the state’s racetrack casinos.

The initial gaming bill this session allowed racinos to add a limited number of table games with live dealers.

But Gov. Mike Pence weighed in with lawmakers, objecting to live dealers because he viewed it as gaming expansion.

Gretchen Frazee / http://www.ipbs.org/

State school superintendent Glenda Ritz would remain chair of the State Board of Education until after she wins or loses reelection next year, under the latest version of a bill to end the feuding between Ritz and the board.

The board would undergo changes first. The bill shrinks it from 11 members to nine starting in June, and shifts two appointments from the governor to the House speaker and Senate president pro tem.

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. 

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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.

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With less than a week left in the session, legislative leaders say an amendment to the ethics reform bill added by the full Senate is holding up the legislation’s progress.  

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Senate Republicans Tuesday rejected a slew of amendments to the state budget offered by Democrats. That includes one aimed at continuing a recent discussion over the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

While passing the religious freedom clarification bill, Republican legislative leaders said this session wasn’t enough time to debate inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity into the state’s civil rights statute.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, says creating a study committee is the customary next step.

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It‘s the Senate‘s turn next week to take up an ethics reform bill. Senate leaders tweaked some wording in the ethics bill before sending it to the floor.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), who authored the bill, says the changes plug one potentially significant loophole, extending a ban on former executive-branch employees doing business with their old agencies to cover them even if they‘re independent contractors.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants to see legislation on his desk by the end of the week that clarifies the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.

The governor says RFRA is meant to protect people’s religious liberties and does not allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples.

“No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe," Pence says.

Pence says much of the criticism Indiana has been receiving is because of misunderstanding about what the law actually does.

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Republican leaders announced Monday they will introduce legislative language to clarify that Indiana’s religious freedom bill will not allow discrimination against anyone.  But Democratic leaders Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) and Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) say full repeal of the law must be the first step…with the second being legislation to specifically protect LGBT Hoosiers through the state’s anti-discrimination law.  But Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says with only four weeks left in the session, now isn’t the time for that debate:

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

Republican legislative leaders say they want to help turn the tide against the backlash that’s erupted over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom bill.  They say that will involve making it clear the law does not allow discrimination.