Monday, May 12, 2014

What happens in between legislative sessions?

Written by: Mindi Goodpaster, MCCOY's Director of Public Policy & Advocacy

Indiana has a part-time legislature that only meets three or four months out of the year.  During even-numbered years, they meet during the “short session,” which only lasts until approximately mid-March.  During odd-numbered years, they meet until approximately the end of April for the “long session,” which is where the state’s biennial budget is drafted and approved.  Although session is where laws are introduced, debated and voted on, there is much work that goes on throughout the rest of the year during the “interim” period.

On May 14, the Legislative Council, made up of House and Senate Leadership and other key legislators, will meet to assign the Interim Study Committee topics to be discussed during the summer and early fall.  The Interim Study Committees, which were reorganized by SEA80 this past session, delve deeper into issues that legislators felt warranted further investigation prior to passing.  The committees typically meet several times, hearing expert and often public testimony on issues, then deliberate and generate a final report that will usually contain recommendations for legislation for the upcoming session.  If legislation is recommended, a committee member will typically introduce it in the next session with the hope of it becoming a law.

Topics that have been recommended for possible discussion during the interim include:

  •   School discipline, school start times and how to encourage teachers to work at poor performance schools (HEA1319)
  •   Child Services Oversight Committee review criminal background checks for certain entities by different agencies (HR5)
  •   Human sex trafficking on the internet (HR12)
  •   Causes of violence and violent crime (HR61)
  •   Training of teachers who instruct students with neurological disorders (HR67)
  •   Nullification of federal firearms legislation (SR38)
  •   Home health workers and service providers (SR59)
  •   Feasibility of the proposed new soccer stadium (SR75)
  •   STD prevention and education (SR81)
  •   Core 40, career & technical education classes, AP classes (HEA1213)
  •   Whether father who abandons birth mother during pregnancy should be required to consent to adoption (SEA27)
  •   Involuntary commitment of persons with substance abuse disorders (SCR13)
  •   Cultural competency training as a requirement for licensure in healthcare profession (SR34)

MCCOY will be monitoring several of the above-mentioned topics if they are assigned to a study committee, particularly school discipline reform, and will be watching the Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services and Education committees.  These committees may be available for live streaming on the Indiana General Assembly’s website  The calendar on the homepage will tell you when and where the committee is meeting and will provide a link to watch on-line if available.  Stay tuned to MCCOY for on-going updates.

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