Throughout the summer and fall when the Indiana General Assembly is not in session, interim committees and commissions are convened to conduct in-depth research and analysis on many complex issues facing the state. The recommendations formed over the next few months by the work of these committees –including public testimony– are included in proposals likely to be considered during the next legislative session. Most study committees must complete their work by November 1st.
The newly-established committee will take up whether the state will continue to roll out Common Core standards or proceed in a different direction. The committee will compare the state’s current standards to Common Core and consider best practices in developing and adopting Common Core standards. The committee will also examine the cost of implementation and hear testimony from teachers, testing experts, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction among others.
Another new working group, the School Safety Interim Study Committee, will look to improve safety among the state’s schools and develop best practices for school resource officers hired under provisions laid out in Senate Enrolled Act 1. The bill provided schools with grant funding to hire officers to assist with school safety and security.
The Commission on Education will study the effects of unprecedented school voucher expansion in Indiana. The committee will consider the academic performance and graduation rates of choice scholarship schools and how they compare to traditional public schools. The committee will also study the demographics of students receiving vouchers including income, race, and special needs of choice scholarship students as compared to those students enrolled in public schools. Overall, the committee will examine why parents choose to enroll their child in the school choice scholarship program, as well as the student growth and achievement for students enrolled in the voucher program over time.
Following widespread issues with ISTEP testing across the state this spring, lawmakers will immediately review the testing process in June. The commission will hear testimony from the company behind ISTEP’s online testing software, McGraw-Hill, administrators and other concerned parties.
Formed in response to a string of high profile child abuse cases and a subsequent series of public hearings last interim, the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana will examine issues concerning vulnerable Hoosier youth. The commission will review legislation passed this session and work to improve continuity of services among the state agencies tasked with protecting children. Other issues to be reviewed by the commission include whether Indiana should require a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient to show photo ID when receiving a benefit.
The committee is tasked with reviewing legislation passed in April overhauling the state’s criminal code before the law takes effect next year. Among other issues, the committee will look at providing the necessary resources to local corrections programs and make recommendations regarding advisory sentencing and the supsendibility of sentences.
Implementing federal health care reform will be the Health Finance Commission’s primary focus. The commission will begin by laying out the framework for Indiana’s health care exchange, the state’s one-stop resource for purchasing health insurance, and also define “essential health benefits,” or what medical services will be included as a part of the policies offered on the exchange.
The commission will also study biosimiliar biological products, the disposal of used prescription drugs, Medicaid false claims and whistleblower protections among other topics.
The result of legislation passed during the 2013 session, the Central Indiana Transit Study Committee will take up the feasibility of enhanced public transit connecting central Indiana counties. The committee will review the possible construction of a light rail line between Marion and Hamilton counties as well as rapid bus transit, added bus routes and how the initiative could be funded.
Committee meeting dates, agendas, and minutes will all be available online at www.in.gov/legislative/interim/committee.