Indiana lawmakers pass bill allowing needle-exchange programs to combat HIV …

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At a glance: Indiana state budget proposal.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Republicans approved shifting authority over Indiana’s standardized testing and other education policy matters from Democratic state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz during the final hours of this year’s legislative session.More than two dozen schools in Lake and Porter counties were named Indiana Four-Star Schools for their academic performance during the 2013-2014 school year. Mike Pence touted as an “education session” at its outset brought significant changes to how state education policy will be set and shifted more money to growing suburban school districts as lawmakers passed a new two-year budget. The House and Senate backed provisions Wednesday night that give the State Board of Education control over development of the ISTEP exam and a new $10 million charter schools grant fund.

Lawmakers must approve the spending plan Wednesday to meet the General Assembly’s adjournment deadline: – Education funding: Increases K-12 funding by about $460 million, or 2.3 percent a year, over the budget’s two years. They quickly added provisions that businesses can’t use the law as a legal defense for refusing services based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors. State law currently prohibits public agencies from charging a fee to search for, examine, or review a record to determine whether or not it can be disclosed.

– Charter schools: Includes about $10 million a year toward additional grants for charter schools, giving them money for building work and transportation that traditional school districts receive through local property taxes. Palcohol’s creator says it’s a lightweight alternative for consumers who want to enjoy alcoholic drinks and avoid carrying around heavy bottles, but lawmakers have said it encourages underage drinking and could easily be concealed.

Supporters of the proposal argue that compensation for search times would help alleviate the burden that large requests place on government resources. The School Town of Munster had three schools on the list, while Lake Central School Corp. had two schools. “I am honored to name these schools as our Four Star Schools for this year,” Ritz said in a statement. “Winning this award is a testament to the excellent work done by teachers, administrators, students and parents throughout the year. And lawmakers delayed a plan to remove Ritz as the board’s chairwoman, agreeing instead to allow the board to elect its leader in 2017, after Ritz’s current term ends.

Instead, they passed a measure that takes other steps to limit her authority – such as giving a board vice chairman joint responsibility for the panel’s agenda. House Majority Leader Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, called the bill a compromise aimed at improving cooperation between board members and Ritz’s Department of Education. “Those entities have to be able to communicate effectively to make sure our children are best served by the policies that are implemented by this body are able to be passed along to schools,” McMillin said.

– Criminal justice: Increases by about $80 million over two years the amount going to county-level probation and treatment programs as part of an overhaul of criminal sentencing laws designed to keep more low-level offenders out of prison. Republicans hailed the bills they sent to the governor as efforts to restore efficiency to the panel and improve how its members and Ritz work together.

Hoosier State Press Association Executive Director Steve Key said the benefit of getting records in an easy format outweighs the potential negatives of a search fee. “This is going to probably force people to be a little bit more selective when they make records requests,” he said. “It will be much more of a rifle approach as opposed to a shot gun or casting a fishing net.” “The records are created with our tax dollars; the employees and the buildings are paid for with our tax dollars. – HIV OUTBREAK: Lawmakers agreed on legislation allowing local officials to seek state permission for needle-exchange programs to combat HIV and hepatitis C epidemics. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, touted the budget as one that makes education the top priority while keeping control of spending growth “We live within our means, we mean that,” Brown said. “We protect taxpayers. – ISTEP SHORTENING: Complaints from parents and educators over a doubling to 12 hours of testing time for the ISTEP+ standardized exam prompted lawmakers to approve steps proposed by Ritz and consultants hired by Pence to shave at least three hours from the test.

We have a structural surplus, and we plan for the future.” Pence issued a statement praising the Legislature for making “a historic investment in K-12 education” that would help build a strong future for the state. The House backed legalizing four current preserves where farm-raised deer are hunted and currently aren’t regulated – BABY BOXES: Lawmakers ordered a special review of a proposal to make Indiana the first with a law allowing “baby boxes” in which women could anonymously surrender their newborns. The bill as originally proposed would have allowed police and fire stations, hospitals and select nonprofits to install the boxes, which would be regulated by the state health department.

Another bill approved allows Indiana’s riverboat casinos to build on-land facilities as a way of helping them respond to increased competition from casinos in neighboring states.

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