The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 13, 2021 1:00 am

Legislators get class schedules

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Let the studying begin!

The Indiana General Assembly's Legislative Council has assigned topics for lawmakers to study during the 2021 legislative interim.

This is often called summer study committees, although they sometimes don't start until the fall.

“Study committees provide an important opportunity for lawmakers to examine complicated issues in depth without the time restrictions we face during a legislative session,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said. “As such, they serve an important role in helping us prepare for the next session. I look forward to productive conversations between lawmakers, Hoosiers and stakeholders as we take a hard look at these issues in the coming months.”

House and Senate leaders are now assigning members to each study committee.

The committees hear from stakeholders and submit a report but rarely recommend substantive change.

This year's topics include:

• The capacity of the public defender system to provide counsel and the impact of providing counsel on jail overcrowding

• Juvenile sentencing to life in prison without parole

• K-12 racial achievement gaps

• Unemployment programs for workers with short-term contacts, freelancers and independent contractors

• Affordable housing and “missing middle” housing in Indiana

• Establishment and preservation of an independent State Board of Accounts.

Bayh, Coats take new roles at IU

Two former Hoosier politicians have new roles at Indiana University.

Evan Bayh, a former U.S. senator and Indiana governor, will join the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs as a distinguished scholar and executive at large.

Dan Coats, former director of national intelligence and U.S. senator, will join the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, serving as a distinguished scholar and ambassador at large.

IU President Michael McRobbie described the former senators as two of IU's most renowned alumni and among the nation's most accomplished public servants.

“Both have had lengthy and productive careers in the public sector, and both have served as bipartisan leaders at the highest levels of government, where they have consistently championed the causes of education, civic responsibility, community service and global engagement,” McRobbie said in a statement.

“Both also remain highly influential voices on the most critical issues facing our nation and our world and, as such, will further enhance IU's mission to educate the next generation of leaders to confront our most pressing challenges.”

Council vote split on appointment

City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, D-at large, came to this week's meeting ready to change the status quo when it comes to board appointments.

For a seat on the Internal Audit Committee, Jason Arp, R-4th, quickly nominated Mark Oetting, who has held the seat for a few terms. He pointed out that Oetting has done a good job and has put a lot of effort into researching the issues.

Chambers then nominated someone else – Michael Sylvester, a local CPA who hasn't served on any City Council committees. Chambers said she thinks it is important to consider others who have interest in serving the community.

She then spoke more broadly to point out that many of the boards and commissions around the city are filled with people who end up serving for decades. The council ultimately voted 5-4 to appoint Sylvester. Tom Didier, R-3rd, voted for Sylvester along with the Democratic members.

Didier said he agreed with Chambers and knows Sylvester, recalling him coming to some past council meetings to speak up.

There was a second seat open for the Internal Audit Committee. Oetting was the only person nominated for that seat, so he will fill that position.

Ashley Sloboda and Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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