On the Legislature’s Organization Day in November, Bosma acknowledged how heated the issue is during a House floor speech: “My charge to you as we debate this very emotional, personal issue, is that we do so with the recognition of the dignity of every Hoosier in here and elsewhere, and also respecting each other’s strongly held positions.”
Many other matters loom before the Legislature, including these two critical issues:
In the 2013 session, lawmakers instructed the state Board of Education to devise new guidelines for the controversial A-to-F ratings on schools, which are based on student test scores. But little progress has been made, as the elected state schools chief, Democrat Glenda Ritz, has quarreled with the Republican-appointed board.
Also in 2013, the Legislature voted to overhaul the state’s decades-old criminal code, reduce penalties for drug crimes and increase penalties for violent crimes. The legislation, which takes effect July 1, 2014, was intended to divert low-level felons from state prisons and back into their communities.
But it came with no funding. Indiana sheriffs, who are likely to see an increase in jail populations, want to delay the start of the law until 2015, which will be a budget-making year for the Legislature.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden