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General Assembly Returns for Ceremonial Start to Session

Work begins in earnest January 3, with job training, opioids at top of the priority list

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The calendar still says 2017, but the 2018 General Assembly is underway.

Legislators gathered for their annual ceremonial Organization Day session -- the session will start for real January 3. House Speaker Brian Bosma says legislators' top priorities should be education, the opioid epidemic, and an overdue streamlining of job training programs.

Bosma says businesses in every part of the state have jobs they can't fill because there aren't enough workers with the right skills. He says the state has 30 different job training programs, with state, local, college and high school programs that don't align well with each other. He says the planned reform in this year's session will look a lot like the system created by former Governor Mitch Daniels. Bosma says Daniels' successor, Vice President Mike Pence, asked legislators to repeal that system in favor of his own network of local "career councils."

And Bosma called on legislators to resist what he calls a downward spiral in civil discourse. He says an anti-abortion group in the last week called him "disgusting" and compared him to Nazis -- on the Facebook page for his mother's funeral.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) echoed Republicans' emphasis on fighting the opioid epidemic, but urged them to be ready to take steps to protect the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state's insurance program for low-income Hoosiers. He says the fight against opioids will never succeed if Hoosiers don't have access to health care.

The one-day session was the first day on the floor for three new Republican legislators picked by caucuses over the summer after their predecessors resigned: Noblesville Senator Victoria Spartz, Jasper Representative Shane Lindauer and Eckerty Representative Steve Bartels.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

 

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