Legislators recap bills ahead of short session

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By Jarred Meeks

A group of central Indiana senators lawmakers met at Conner Prairie in Fishers Jan. 10 to discuss bills they are proposing for the General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session. What follows is list of what each state senator and representative told the audience about some of the bills.

  • Republican Sen. John Ruckelshaus, 30th District, said he proposed a bill that will fund a study to find the state’s average teacher pay compared to neighboring states and the entire U.S.

“Where do we rank among all of those?” Ruckelshaus said. “What is the number we need to aspire to?”

  • Democrat Sen. J.D. Ford, 29th District, co-sponsored a teacher-licensing bill with Ruckelshaus that repeals a provision that demands teachers accumulate professional growth experience points through externships to renew their license.
  • Republican Sen. Victoria Spartz, 20th District, said she has proposed legislation to champion deregulation for schools and businesses.

“I’ll tell you, it’s much easier to regulate than deregulate,” Spartz said. “But I think it’s important.”

  • Republican Sen. Jim Buck, 21st District, wants to require political parties to nominate candidates for the U.S. Senate in a state convention instead of a primary election with a bill he sponsored. He said running for office has become too expensive, often leading to gubernatorial races that require candidates to spend millions of dollars out-of-pocket.

“I’m just concerned that we’re getting to the point where ordinary people can’t run for office because they can’t afford it,” Buck said.

  • Republican Rep. Chuck Goodrich, 29th District, said he wants to pass a bill that eliminates the income of a child in a work-based learning program or internship from affecting the benefits their family receives.
  • Republican Rep. Jerry Torr, 39th District, said he doesn’t have many bills that will make headlines, but he is co-sponsoring legislation with Goodrich and Rep. Donna Schaibley that allows judges of the Hamilton Circuit and Superior Courts to jointly appoint an additional magistrate.
  • Republican Rep. Donna Schaibley, 24th District, introduced a bill concerning health care costs.
  • “I think all of us, businesses, people, individuals, are dealing with the exponential cost of health care,” Schaibley said. Her bill would require the governing board of a nonprofit hospital to hold public, semiannual meetings explaining measures the hospital is taking to make health services more affordable.
  • Republican Rep. Tony Cook, 32nd District, co-sponsored a bill that decouples testing from the teacher evaluations.

“I’ve always thought that was unfair,” Cook said. The bill would remove the requirement that a school corporation’s annual performance evaluation plan for teachers must be based, in part, on objective measures of student test scores.

  • Republican Rep. Todd Huston, 37th District, said his role has changed, and as a result, he wrote only one bill. But he stressed that the area is “represented extraordinarily well” by the lawmakers in attendance.

“It’s a privilege to serve with these folks,” Huston said.

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