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March 13, 2011

STATEHOUSE WRAP: Decision on budget bill expected Monday

Redistricting task could go to a five-member committee

INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s an update from the CNHI Statehouse Bureau on some key legislation in the Indiana Statehouse as of March 11.  

Budget

A walkout by House Democrats has stalled progress on a proposed $28-billion, two-year state budget bill. The bill has already been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee but has yet to get out of the House. The deadline to pass the House budget bill to the Senate has been extended again by GOP leaders. But the state Senate may not wait for House Democrats to return; the Senate Appropriations chairman is expected to decide Monday whether to go ahead with Senate hearings on the budget bill, without the 149 amendments that have been added by House members.  

Education reform

House Democrats cited Republican-backed education bills in their Feb. 22 walkout. On the list was a bill that would significantly expand the number of charter schools in Indiana.

Testimony on the bill was heard by a Senate committee last week; that committee is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday. The bill eliminates the cap on the number of charter schools, requires school districts to share transportation funding with charter schools and makes it easier for school districts to convert a traditional public school into a charter school.

Redistricting

Legislators are required to redraw political districts every 10 years based on the most recent Census figures. The deadline for the U.S. congressional districts is April 29. If they miss that deadline, the task automatically goes to a five-member redistricting commission of legislative leaders — four of whom are Republicans with the fifth member to be appointed by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Lawmakers have until the end of their 2012 session to redraw state legislative districts. If they wait until then, it will force candidates to file for office before knowing what the new districts look like.

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