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A look at issues in Indiana Legislature

A look at major legislation in the Indiana General Assembly this year:

— STATE SPENDING: A new two-year, $30 billion budget plan would increase school spending by 2 percent the first year and 1 percent the second year for a total of about $330 million. State and local roads funding increases by $400 million, with another $400 million for major highway expansions over the biennium.

— TAX CUTS: Budget plan will cut the state’s personal income tax rate by 5 percent in two steps — from the current 3.4 percent tax rate to 3.3 percent in 2015, then to 3.23 percent in 2017. Gov. Mike Pence had sought a 10 percent cut. Plan also repeals the state inheritance tax retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year; legislators last year had approved a 10-year phase out of that tax.

— SENTENCING OVERHAUL: Bill approved revamping criminal sentencing laws starting in July 2014, requires those convicted of the most serious crimes to spend more time in prison and send more low-level felony offenders to work release and other local programs.

— SCHOOL SECURITY: The state will offer schools up to $50,000 a year in grants to help hire police officers and buy safety equipment to better secure their buildings. Lawmakers dropped a proposal that would’ve required all public schools to have an armed employee, possibly a teacher or principal, on hand during school hours.

— ABORTION REGULATIONS: Approved tightening regulations on distribution of the abortion pill and on the clinics that provide only drug-induced abortions, which the bill’s opponents say will affect only a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette.

— ONLINE SALES TAX: The Senate turned aside a House-approved plan to require Amazon.com and other online-only retailers to start collecting Indiana’s 7 percent sales tax this summer. Amazon is to start collecting that tax in January, but other online retailers don’t face any requirement.

— GAY MARRIAGE: House and Senate leaders delayed until next year votes on a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying they wanted to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on similar bans in other states.

— SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES: A bill that would have lifted Indiana’s ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales died when a House committee chairman didn’t hold a vote on it. Bills seeking to end the ban have been filed the past several years, but it received a committee hearing for the first time this session.



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