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Gov. Holcomb Calls Special Legislative Session

Regular session ended last week with urgent topics left undone, including federal tax compliance and school funding.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Governor Holcomb is bringing legislators back in May for the first special session in nine years.

The regular session ended last week with chaos and finger-pointing after the House ran out of time with a half-dozen bills still unvoted on by the midnight deadline, including two of Holcomb's legislative priorities: a $5 million boost in Indiana's school-security grant fund, and a regulatory framework for self-driving cars.

Holcomb says he's disappointed the self-driving car bill didn't pass, but says it can wait till next year. But he says the school-safety bill and two others can't wait. He says legislators need to align Indiana's tax code with the federal tax reform which took effect in January -- the Indiana Chamber has warned it'll cost businesses at least $100 million in productivity if they have to separately calculate their income in two different ways. And the governor is asking legislators to approve a 12-million-dollar emergency loan to the cash-strapped Muncie Community Schools.

Republicans had been pushing a bill which would have turned over management of the Muncie schools to Ball State. The bill would also abolish Gary's school board, giving an emergency manager there complete authority to run the district. The proposal sparked fierce opposition from Democrats. Holcomb acknowledges Republican legislators' arguments that Muncie has mismanaged previous infusions of cash. But he says the school system has critical needs, and says the special session should stick to bills with broad support.

Holcomb says he'll encourage legislators to limit the agenda to those issues, and House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem issued separate statements vowing to keep the session "efficient and focused." 

Holcomb says he'll discuss the session with the two leaders later this week before leaving Sunday on a trade mission to Canada, and will set a date for the session when he returns.

A special session costs the state $30,000 dollars a day. House Minority Leader Terry Goodin and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane blasted what they call Republican mismanagement in failing to finish their work by the March 14 deadline, despite holding supermajorities in both the House and Senate. Lanane says he's glad to see the assistance for Muncie on the agenda, but says Republicans should have done that in the first place instead of pursuing a takeover which contributed to the end-of-session turmoil. 

Lanane and Goodin both say the only legitimate reason for a special session would be to address allegations of poor management at the Department of Child Services. Holcomb says he's waiting for the findings of an independent review of the agency, and says he doesn't expect anything that will require action before next year.g that will require action before next year.

 

(Photo by Eric Berman/WIBC)

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