Tim Lanane

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Indiana school bus drivers are asking legislators to excuse them from repaying thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits.

Indiana changed the law on unemployment four years ago to make planned seasonal shutdowns ineligible for benefits. Hundreds of school bus drivers applied for benefits anyway while school was out the next summer.

They received them but were subsequently told to give the money back. Those drivers now owe an average of $2,000 to $4,000, according to the AFSCME union.

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

A Senate committee today will hear two versions of legislation that Senate GOP Leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne, says will help protect Hoosiers’ religious liberty.

But the Senate Minority Leader calls it a measure allowing discrimination.

The proposed legislation, dubbed the religious freedom restoration bills, bar the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless there’s a compelling governmental interest to do so.

It closely mirrors a law passed by Congress that applies to the federal government.

Bill Would Require Concussion Training For Most Coaches

Jan 29, 2015
Macomb Paynes / https://www.flickr.com/photos/24730945@N03/14733187200

High schools in Indiana are required to educate their coaches, student athletes, and parents about concussions and head injuries, and follow specific rules after a head injury occurs.

A new law would apply those same rules to grades 5-8.

Senate Bill 403 would require all coaches and assistant coaches to complete some safety education courses, if their athletes are less than 20 years old.

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

Indiana's May primary comes so late that the state almost never plays a role in choosing the presidential nominees. The Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton contest of 2008 was the first in 24 years to reach Indiana. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says Obama's primary campaign not only brought attention to the state, but helped Obama win the state that November.

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Senate President Pro Tem David Long is warning of far-reaching consequences if the government rejects Indiana's request to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma both accuse the Obama Administration of politicizing the debate over Indiana's proposal to use the state's insurance plan as a vehicle for the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would make 600-thousand uninsured Hoosiers eligible for the plan, 10 times HIP's current enrollment.

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Indiana’s private sector added more than 5,000 jobs last month while the state’s unemployment rate remained at its lowest levels in six years.

The Hoosier private sector grew by 5,500 jobs in October, boosted by strong gains in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and continued growth in manufacturing jobs.

In the past year, the state added more than 24,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector, one of the best growth rates in the country. The unemployment rate last month remained unchanged from September, holding steady at 5.7 percent.

Indiana Senate Republicans / https://www.flickr.com/photos/insenategop/9664126997

House Republicans have a new member in their leadership for the first time in 12 years.

Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) is set to vacate the House seat he won in Tuesday’s election.  Turner had been Speaker Pro Tem since Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) became Speaker of the House. 

House Republicans have elected to move Majority Floor Leader Bill Friend (R-Macy) to Turner’s spot as Speaker Pro Tem, while elevating  Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) to Friend’s old post. 

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Despite tax revenues that struggled for much of the fiscal year, Indiana closes its book with a surplus of more than $100 million and reserves topping $2 billion.  But Democrats say the state is hoarding money to make its bottom line look good.

Going into the final month of the fiscal year, Indiana was about $50 million short of expectations.  But a strong June helped the state end the year about $13 million above projected levels. 

Preschool voucher bill to be considered in state Senate

Feb 11, 2014

A bid to expand state financial aid for preschool gets a hearing in the Senate tomorrow, with better prospects than it found a year ago.   

Last year, the Senate sharply scaled back a House proposal for preschool vouchers for low-income students.

But this year, Senate President Pro Tem David Long has joined Minority Leader Tim Lanane in endorsing the idea.

Governor Mike Pence has also made it one of his priorities, calling it an "idea whose time has come."

Republican senator Pete Miller is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Pence to deliver State of the State tonight

Jan 14, 2014

Governor Mike Pence makes a pitch for his legislative agenda tonight, in his second State of the State address.

The governor rolled out his agenda two months ago, highlighted by a call to phase out the business personal property tax, and an expansion of preschool vouchers for low-income students.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says he expects to hear more about those issues in the speech.

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