Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

A look at the 2011 legislative session

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The Associated Press

A look at some major legislation considered this year by the Indiana General Assembly:

BILLS THAT PASSED:

— STATE BUDGET: New two-year, $28 billion spending plan has no tax increases; restores some of the funding cuts made to public schools over the past two years; shifts more money to growing suburban school districts with some urban and rural districts facing cuts; projected to leave state with more than $1 billion in reserves; includes method for $1,000-a-day fines against boycotting legislators in response to five-week walkout by House Democrats.

— SCHOOL VOUCHERS: Legislators approved a plan backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels that would create the nation’s broadest voucher system, allowing parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. Families of four making up to about $60,000 a year could receive some type of scholarship.

— CHARTER SCHOOLS: Bill aims to expand charter schools, which are public schools free of many state regulations, by allowing a new state board and some private colleges to create charter schools. It also lets charter schools cheaply buy unused buildings owned by traditional school districts.

— TEACHER MERIT PAY: Bill requires teachers to be evaluated annually. Those in the bottom two of four categories would not be eligible for automatic pay raises.

— TEACHER CONTRACT LIMITS: Daniels has signed into law a bill barring contracts between school districts and teachers unions from including anything other than wages and wage-related benefits starting July 1.

— ABORTION/PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Bill approved to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there is a substantial threat to the woman’s life or health, about four weeks earlier than current law. It also would cut off all government funding distributed by the state for Planned Parenthood. Daniels said Friday he will sign the bill.

— UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FUND: The plan is expected to reduce the state’s jobless payments by 25 percent starting in 2012 while reducing business tax increases that were taking effect this year. The plan aims to repay $2 billion the state has borrowed from the federal government to pay benefits.

— GAY MARRIAGE: House and Senate both approved a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. It must win legislative approval again in 2013 or 2014 to face a statewide referendum in November 2014.

— REDISTRICTING: New Republican-drawn election districts for the state’s nine congressional and 150 legislative districts won approval despite calls from watchdog group that more time be given for public review of the maps, which were released April 11.

— ALCOHOL ID: The requirement that everyone — regardless of age — provide identification when buying carry-out alcohol was revised so that store clerks wouldn’t have to card customers who appear older than 40.

— TEXTING WHILE DRIVING: All drivers will be prohibited from sending or reading text messages, extending a current ban that applies to drivers younger than 18.

— SPICE BAN: Synthetic marijuana known as spice or K2 will be banned statewide under a law treating possessing or dealing it the same as the real drug.

BILLS THAT FAILED:

— RIGHT TO WORK: Boycott by House Democrats started after a House committee advanced a bill that would prohibit union representation fees from being a condition of employment at most companies. The issue will be reviewed later this year by a legislative study committee.

— CRIMINAL SENTENCING CHANGES: A plan pushed by Daniels aimed at reducing the state’s prison crowding by easing penalties for low-level offenders died after running into stiff opposition from county prosecutors.

— LOCAL GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION: Proposals from Daniels to revamp county government and eliminate about 1,000 township governments failed to pass.

— SMOKING BAN: A bill to ban smoking in workplaces and other public sites failed after health advocates assailed it as too weak because it would have exempted casinos, bars, fraternal clubs, smoke shops and nursing homes.

 

Posted 5/2/2011

 

 

 

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