Common Core atop summer study list …
Common Core State Standards are on tap to be the most contentious of topics on the General Assembly’s interim study agenda. Whether Indiana should proceed with its participation in a national school standards movement is likely to draw scrutiny not only within the state but also from reformers elsewhere.
As approved by the Legislative Council this week, the study committee charged with examining Common Core differs from other interim panels.
Instead of allowing the Legislative Council chairman and vice chairman to appoint the committee leaders, they were designated by resolution.
The heads of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee and the House Education Committee will serve as co-chairs.
The structure automatically sets up an interesting dynamic: State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, supported the Common Core pause; Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, was adamantly opposed.
The legislation requires a comparison of the current academic standards to the Common Core and also directs the committee to seek opinions from teachers in Indiana, national testing experts and the office of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.
The committee also is charged with evaluating the cost to the state of implementing the online tests aligned to Common Core standards, a discussion certain to touch on the ISTEP+ testing debacle, which will also be the subject of its own Legislative Council hearing.
… as is overturning Pence tax-bill veto
Another order of business by the Legislative Council Thursday was to schedule an unprecedented one-day session next month.
The General Assembly will convene June 12 to consider overriding Gov. Mike Pence’s veto of a tax bill that applied only to Jackson and Pulaski counties. Both counties had imposed a local income tax in 1998 but forgotten the law set a time limit requiring them to reduce the tax rate. Pulaski residents have been overcharged by 0.3 percent for seven years, and Jackson County residents by 0.1 percent since 2011.
Pence vetoed the bill, which would have retroactively legalized the higher rates. House Speaker Brian Bosma said it would be an administrative nightmare for the Indiana Department of Revenue to issue refunds. Senate President Pro Tem David Long said Pulaski County has been overcharging for so long that the statute of limitations now bars refunds for the first four years.
A simple majority is all that is required to override the governor’s veto. The tax bill was opposed by only one legislator, Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City.
A 1995 law gave the House and Senate leaders authority to call lawmakers back for a day to override vetoes or fix technical errors, but it’s never been done.
Plenty of good speedway seats still available
One of the biggest secrets in professional sports is the precise number of seats at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The legendary racetrack’s owners won’t say, but the number this year is fewer than last year.
The Indianapolis Star reported this month that thousands of grandstand seats overlooking Turn 3 have been removed, along with several rows on the front straightaway. The Star assigned a reporter in 2004 to count the seats, arriving at the number 257,325. With alterations this year, the number is expected to be 235,000.
The crowds aren’t expected to be reduced, however.
A new party area in the third-turn area, commonly known as the Snake Pit, is expected to draw an additional 10,000 race fans. Between ticketed fans and the 5,000 people working at the track, the Star estimates attendance on Sunday will be 250,000.
A few thousand seats aside, when Jim Nabors sings and Mari Hulman George instructs the drivers to start their engines, it will once again be the greatest spectacle in racing.