“I think it’s just an opportunity to continue to gather information on the topic. You’re starting to see real data come out across states that have legalized that I think it’s important to analyze and understand.”
By Whitney Downard, Indiana Capital Chronicle
Legislators will spend their interim break studying various topics of interest, including the impacts of cannabis legalization on the workforce and possible tax reform.
“We’ve got a good cross section of subjects that touch a lot of different areas of the state’s business,” GOP Senate Leader Rodric Bray said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Between legislative sessions, elected members spend time dedicated to specific topics and traditionally deliver reports to their colleagues summarizing their work alongside legislative proposals.
Last year’s interim committees inspired the affordable housing measure after several grueling meetings but others barely convene at all.
Priority committees for lawmakers
Bray identified the State and Local Tax Review Task Force as a committee of particular interest, which some senators hope will allow the state to further reduce the state’s income tax and reform other forms of taxation.
It will last two years instead of the traditional one.
“We’re anxious to see where we can go,” Bray, R-Martinsville, said. “… see if we can make it more effective and make Indiana more competitive for businesses and also easier for people to live, work and play here.”
Other topics include a review of crime trends, traffic fatalities and an analysis of the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Again, lawmakers will study the legalization of marijuana in the interim, this time with a focus on the impact on the workforce and teen use.
“I think it’s just an opportunity to continue to gather information on the topic,” House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said. “You’re starting to see real data come out across states that have legalized that I think it’s important to analyze and understand.”
Senate Democrat Leader Sen. Greg Taylor said the committee gave opposing lawmakers the chance to present their counterarguments for legalization with data to support it.
“[But] we can talk about the benefits and what may be the benefits to certain people,” Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said, noting that other study topics included analyzing breakthrough therapies and veteran mental health.
Veterans in the state have been vocal advocates for marijuana legalization in the state, with many saying it helps alleviate PTSD symptoms.
One notable topic not receiving any interim assignments: education.
Huston and Taylor indicated that no education issues won the majority vote required to become an interim study committee topic but said that members would still work on education issues on their own time.
Members proposed more than 160 topics for considerations, with just 42 getting three votes from the General Assembly’s four caucus leaders.
Other topics include, but aren’t limited to:
- An interstate compact on occupational licenses
- A briefing on a Purdue University and Duke Energy Small Modular Reactor feasibility study
- Whether to require insurers to exempt certain providers or health services from prior authorization requirements
- Analyzing the increasing cost of higher education
- Studying contribution rates to fund a 0.5% cost-of-living adjustment annually for public employees receiving a pension
- Expanding child care options, including the feasibility of putting child care facilities inside businesses or other commercial buildings
A full list of proposed interim study topics can be found on the General Assembly website.