Summer study topics for state lawmakers .


Gail RieckenINDIANAPOLIS – Now that the 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly has come to a close, state lawmakers will begin preparing for the 2014 legislative session by continuing their work in interim study committees.

Referred to as “the interim,” the period between sessions provides legislators with an opportunity to review issues in greater depth and determine whether to proceed with legislation when we return next year.

A few weeks back, leaders met to decide what topics would be discussed this summer. Committees will start meeting soon and most should have their work done by the middle of fall.

There are two types of study committees that meet.

Some are created for the interim to look at a variety of topics under a general heading. Others have been created through state law and meet every year to conduct ongoing work on topics.

I am very fortunate this year to have been appointed to four legislative interim workgroups that will be studying issues of great interest to the Indiana House District 77 citizens I represent at the Statehouse in Indianapolis:

•Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana
•Child Services Oversight Committee
•Interim Study Committee on Driver Education
•Council on Evansville State Hospitals
Let’s take a look at some other topics we’ll be studying this year:

The Interim Study Committee on Common Core Educational Standards will examine how Indiana measures achievement in relation to the national Common Core standards. Members will consider the best ways to implement standards by talking to teachers and other local school officials, as well as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The School Safety Interim Study Committee will consider what can be done to protect our children in the wake of recent tragedies in places like Newtown, Conn.

The recent breakdowns on ISTEP testing will be examined in greater detail by the Commission on Education. Other topics for this group will include non-public school scholarships, teacher preparation programs, changes to the length of the school year, and safety issues for student athletes.

We will continue to look at the feasibility of mass transit transportation across Indiana through the work of two groups: the Central Indiana Transit Study Committee and the Joint Study Committee on Infrastructure Assessment & Solutions.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a legislative interim without looking at taxes and budgets. The Commission on State Tax & Financing Policy will handle most of that work this summer, including an examination of the use of land banks in the buying and selling of abandoned properties. This issue has gained attention in recent days after two Indianapolis city employees were indicted by the federal government and charged with taking kickbacks.

In the weeks to come, assignments to these committee will be parceled out. I will keep you posted about the work I will do, then talk about these issues in greater details throughout the summer.

State Representative Gail Riecken
Indiana House District 77