House GOP outlines agenda, Senate meets Wednesday
House Republicans are outlining their 2014 agenda and the Senate was scheduled to meet as Indiana lawmakers return to work for a second day.
House Speaker Brian Bosma announced his caucus' top priorities Wednesday morning. Bosma says early education is a priority, followed by road funding. The speaker indicated there was agreement on those issues, but no agreement on Indiana's proposed marriage amendment. The constitutional amendment, which has generated huge opposition from key employers as well as the Indy Chamber and a coalition of other groups, would define marriage as between a man and a woman - essentially banning gay marriage in the state of Indiana.
Lawmakers are giving a cool reception to Republican Governor Mike Pence's proposal to eliminate property taxes on business equipment that collects about $1 billion a year for local schools and governments.
Bosma offered a scaled-back version that would give counties the option of eliminating those taxes on new investments by existing companies or those moving in from out of state.
He says that will allow counties to compete for additional business investment while protecting local government revenues and gradually phasing out the tax.
Pence says the tax discourages business growth in the state.
House Democratic leader Scott Pelath says the governor's proposal would hurt local government services without the promise of any jobs being created.
The Senate, meanwhile, is scheduled to return for a 1:30 p.m. session.
Lawmakers were meeting as Indiana began thawing out from an Arctic cold wave and a weekend snowstorm. House and Senate leaders had barely enough members Tuesday to kick off their 2014 session, even after pushing back its start one day because of the weather.
Lawmakers are already taking up some of the most contentious issues of the session, including a so-called "Ag Gag" bill aimed at cracking down on trespassers.@
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