Members of the Indiana General Assembly returned to Indianapolis Monday, did their work and left town again without much drama.
Good for them. The lawmakers largely did what Gov. Eric Holcomb asked them to do, which was act on a handful of bills they didn’t manage to get to when the last day of the regular session devolved into disorganization and the clock ran out on them.
Legislators approved a $5 million grant program aimed at making schools safer. While Democrats saw the move as largely symbolic and not urgent enough for a special session, the action was positive. No, it wasn’t all that could be done to protect Hoosier students in an era in which school shootings are all too common. But yes, it was something that shows our state lawmakers understand doing something is better than doing nothing.
Lawmakers also needed to bring the state’s tax code into compliance with recent changes in the federal tax code.
However, another tax maneuver that exempts hot mix asphalt from the state’s sales tax seems hardly worthy of a special session. It will cost the state more than $2 million in lost revenue annually. Where did this idea come from and why did it need to be included in a special session?
Legislation that allows Ball State University to begin administering Muncie schools and essentially strips the elected school board of Gary of its power flies in the face of the notion of home rule for schools. However, those bills were always on the agenda for the special session and passage was no surprise.
All this work in one day came at a ticket price of $30,000, the estimated cost to pay legislators and staff members. In fairness, many legislators have said they won’t keep the money, instead donating it to charitable causes. That’s nice, but it doesn’t negate the fact they had plenty of time to finish their work without needing a special session and the additional cost that came with it.
Hoosiers should be thankful lawmakers stuck to their agenda and took only one extra day to finish. But they can still be unhappy the extra day was needed.