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Tuesday, April 23
The Indiana Daily Student

politics bloomington

Indiana lawmakers express concerns with upcoming special session

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After the Indiana legislative session ended with a few key bills accidentally dying, state lawmakers worry about the importance of the upcoming special session. 

After Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Monday he would be calling a special session in May, some lawmakers have come out in opposition to such a session. Some even announced they’d be donating their pay for the session to charities.

Holcomb said he wants legislators to address key issues that need to be discussed before the end of the year, including education, school safety and federal tax compliance problems.  

Still, Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said he does not think a special session is necessary. The issues the governor addressed could wait until January, he added.

While he was pleased some of the bills were not heard, Pierce said it was embarrassing to see a Republican-controlled House, Senate and governor unable to pass their key bills.

“They run everything from top to bottom,” Pierce said. “There really is no excuse to not get the work done on time.”

Holcomb said he is going to push for legislators to only focus on the five areas he outlined as important, including school safety funding, giving Muncie Community School Corporation a $12 million loan and realigning the state's tax code with a changed federal code. 

However, once the session starts, lawmakers could introduce new bills. Ultimately, Pierce said it’s in the hands of party leadership and committee chairs to decide what bills they want to hear. They could decide to only stick with what Holcomb has outlined or they could introduce new legislation. 

There are a lot of unknowns in the upcoming session, Pierce said. It comes down to lawmakers not being able to finish their work before the last Wednesday deadline.  

“There are things they want to get done, and they’re frustrated they didn’t get them done,” Pierce said.

The legislative session is estimated to cost around $30,000 a day. While Holcomb said he thinks the session will only last a few days, some lawmakers worry about the overall costs.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, announced in a March 21 press release that he and other Senate Republican leaders will be donating their pay during the special session to the Military Family Relief Fund, a charity that benefits veterans and their families. 

Long said in the release he agrees with Holcomb’s decision to call a special session but thinks his pay should be donated.  

“While it is entirely up to each individual legislator what to do with their per diem payment, we are encouraging our colleagues to follow our lead and donate to the MFRF,” Long said in the release. “We believe this is the right thing to do.” 

Republican leaders join numerous other lawmakers who have announced they would be donating their pay, including Democrat leaders House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. 

Lanane said in a statement that he would be donating his pay to assist children in the foster care system since Republicans’ mismanagement jeopardized leaders’ ability to help children in the Department of Child Services

Goodin said in a statement he would also be donating his money to charities that help children in the foster care system as well as veterans. 

In a March 19 press release, Goodin criticized Republican lawmakers for failing to finish their work on time. He added the only reason a special session should be called is to discuss issues related to DCS, which is not on Holcomb’s proposed agenda for the special session.

“Nothing on an agenda for a special session should be more important than saving the lives of children. Nothing,” Goodin said.

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