(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana’s state lawmakers get to work today as the 2011 Legislative Session begins at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.
|Indiana Senate Chambers.|
There will be many new faces from a year ago as Republicans now control both chambers – 60 to 40 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate – following a conservative groundswell in the Nov. 2 election. The session is expected to continue through April.
Education reform will be among the biggest topics taken on this session. Governor Mitch Daniels has said he wants to see teacher evaluations tied to test scores and allow vouchers for students to attend private schools. Teachers unions may potentially see new limits placed on collective bargaining.
Also this year, lawmakers will redraw legislative districts, attempt to fix a bankrupt unemployment insurance program, and take on a proposal to ban synthetic marijuana products such as Spice and K2.
Adding to the workload - a new biennial state budget must also be passed before the session can adjourn.
Newly elected House District 68 Representative Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) is adding to the new Republican majority in the House, having defeated Bob Bischoff in the latest election. The freshman lawmaker has been appointed to three committees including Judiciary, Courts and Criminal Code, and Roads and Transportation.
Longtime State Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) returns to the Senate as Majority Floor Leader Emeritus. He will serve as ranking member on the Senate Committee on Insurance and Financial Institutions.
Aside from the required budget, Nugent says his top priorities for the session include spurring economic growth and job creation, reforming education to put students first, and developing a fair redistricting plan.
Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) will be a ranking majority member of the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology.