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March Madness? A Look at Indiana's Legislative Session

Watchdog groups say Indiana's legislative session scored some good points, but there were some shots that lawmakers didn't take. (Massimo Catarinella/Wikimedia Commons)
Watchdog groups say Indiana's legislative session scored some good points, but there were some shots that lawmakers didn't take. (Massimo Catarinella/Wikimedia Commons)
March 17, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - College basketball is a big deal in the Hoosier State and the Indiana Institute of Working Families took a "March Madness"-type look at how state lawmakers did this past legislative session.

Senior policy analyst Andrew Bradley says while there were some good laws passed, they only made about three out of 10 shots.

He says the legislature had many opportunities to help Hoosiers who are struggling to boost themselves out of poverty but they couldn't find the basket.

"We tried to present a number of policies that would help promote economic mobility," says Bradley. "And there were a couple of things that were taken up, but not really enough to make a systemic impact for low-income families."

Bradley praises the legislature for passing a law that expands a savings plan program called the Individual Development Account.

It allows that money to be used for vehicle purchases, for adult education, or to rehab a house that a low-income family owns. It also boosts the eligibility level from 175 percent of the poverty level to 200 percent.

When it comes to laws that affect the environment, Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, says there were a few bills that he was sorry to see win approval.

One is HB 1053, which would make it illegal for cities and towns to enact bans on plastic bags.

"On the one hand we say we want to empower communities with the tools to improve their quality of life," says Kharbanda. "But on the other hand we're passing legislation that undermines that ability."

Kharbanda says one thing that's heartening is that Hoosiers are beginning to realize the future of economic development is centered around the quality of life, and he says a clean environment is part of that.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN