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Archive for February, 2010

House Approves Statewide Smoking Ban

Smoking would be banned in public places statewide if a bill passed by the Indiana House of Representatives today becomes law. A relatively small heath bill turned into a big topic Wednesday when the house decided to add in the statewide public smoking ban authored by Representative Charlie Brown of Gary. After much discussion for and against the ban, Legislators passed the bill by a slim margin, bringing Indiana one step closer to being the twenty seventh state to pass a comprehensive smoking ban. Opponents of the bill, like Representative Gerald Torr of Carmel, say they don’t believe the state should tell business people how to run their establishments, while others asked that exceptions be put in for private clubs and veteran’s organizations. But Representative Brown says people in the state are ready to put those arguments to rest.

“Indiana is progressive. Indiana is concerned about its fellow Hoosiers. Indiana is willing and ready to take that step and say second hand smoke is not good for Indiana.”

The ban has exemptions for casinos and racinos. Brown says he will consider other exemptions in conference committee. Several Indiana municipalities have already passed smoking bans, but this is the first time a statewide ban has been passed by either chamber of the legislature.

Brian Caoimhghin Flood

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Ethics Bill Passes Senate

The Indiana Senate has given its approval to an ethics reform bill that sets new conduct standards for legislators and lobbyists. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Marianne Holland reports.

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Statewide Smoking Ban Revived in House

The Indiana House came one step closer last night to passing a statewide indoor smoking ban in public places. But as Scott Leadingham reports, there could be exceptions, and that has opponents raising questions.

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House Passes Unemployment Insurance Bill

In an effort to increase jobs, legislators at the Indiana Statehouse voted today (Wednesday) to repeal a scheduled increase in unemployment insurance taxes. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brian Flood reports.

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Bridges Project added to Illiana bill

The Illiana Expressway in northwest Indiana, took another step forward today (Wednesday) as amendments were heard in the Indiana House for the bill that would pave the way for construction of the proposed toll road.

The Indiana Department of Transportation hopes to form a public private partnership to construct this roadway.

One notable amendment to the bill adds the Bridges Project in Jeffersonville to the list of projects that can use a public private partnership to construct a toll road.

The bill, which has already passed in the senate, will be voted on tomorrow

Brian Caoimhghin Flood

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Flexibility in School funding passes senate

The Indiana Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow school corporations to divert money from their capital projects fund, the money used for maintenance and construction, in an effort to sure up education budget short falls.

The bill would require employees in any school corporation that takes advantage of this funding option, to agree to a salary freeze.

That mandated salary freeze is what opponents of the bill, like Senator Connie Sipes of New Albany, took issue with, saying that many educators are already helping make budget cuts and that it was insulting to teachers to mandate a salary freeze.

But the bill’s senate sponsor, Luke Kenley of Noblesville, responded by saying he was unaware of any school corporation where teachers had volunteered for a salary freeze.

Brian Caoimhghin Flood

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House Leader Says He’s Done Pushing for Land-Based Casinos

Supporters of land-based casinos were handed a major setback today after the House of Representatives withdrew a gambling bill, and an amendment to allow riverboats to re-locate on land. Tuesday’s action seemed initially to support allowing riverboats to relocate on land. An amendment offered by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Crawford did just that. But the amendment was voted down, and shortly afterward, Crawford withdrew the bill altogether. Casinos located at horse tracks lobbied hard against that change, saying it would threaten their profits. Crawford says that’s what stood in the way.

“Racinos got what they wanted and to hell with everybody else!”

That “everybody else” Crawford is referring to, included a riverboat casino in Gary that would have been allowed to relocate closer to interstates, and, more business. Gary representative, Charlie Brown, says it was an attempt to help people in the struggling area, while improving Indiana’s edge when competing with casinos in nearby Illinois and Michigan.

“Since they denied Gary, then I have no interest in the bill whatsoever.”

Crawford says he won’t try again this year to let riverboats re-locate on land. But a gambling bill, without that change, is still alive. That means significant gambling changes in Indiana are still possible through session’s end.

-Marianne Holland