Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

March 4, 2014

Gun, tax, school issues remain for lawmakers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana legislators headed into final negotiations for the 2014 session on Monday by advancing measures to cut taxes, allow guns in school parking lots and increase charter school accountability.

House and Senate lawmakers spent the day vetting a wide array of proposals before their scheduled March 14 close to the session. House members faced a deadline for approving Senate bills Monday, while the Senate had through Tuesday to approve House legislation.

Measures designed to curb high school athlete concussions and establishing a women’s veteran coordinator won easy approval in the House. In the Senate, an effort to control the number of feral cats roaming the state was advanced for final consideration, while an effort to expand criminal background checks for school workers was defeated.

As lawmakers spent the day working in the Statehouse, Gov. Mike Pence and first lady Karen Pence met with young children at an Indianapolis day care center as part of a last-minute lobbying push for a preschool voucher program.

Pence’s call for the pilot program has run up against broad spending concerns in the Senate. But he has had the support of House Republicans, whose plan he is backing, throughout the debate.

“I believe a pilot program, like that passed by the House of Representatives, is an idea whose time has come and I am renewing my call at the start of the week for the Indiana General Assembly to combine the study with a pilot program,” Pence said. “Let’s get started opening the doors to quality pre-K to our most disadvantaged children here in Indiana.”

Many items of the governor’s 2014 agenda have either been stripped by lawmakers or considerably dialed-back. A scaled-back version of the cut to the state’s business equipment tax won approval on a party-line vote in the House Monday evening.

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