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General assembly

House approves center for deaf

Signals a shift from signing to technology

– The Indiana House on Tuesday narrowly accepted final changes to a bill creating a new center for deaf and hearing-impaired Hoosiers meant to give unbiased information on educational options for parents.

House Bill 1367 passed 54-36 and is now headed to Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature.

The Office of Management and Budget – in conjunction with three other state agencies – will recommend where the new center will be created and how to pay for it.

Legislators will make final decisions on the center’s operation when passing the state budget next year.

Overall, there are more than 2,000 deaf and hearing-impaired school-aged children in Indiana.

House Bill 1367 was one of the most contentious bills of the session. It relates to a national debate between parents who prefer sign language for their deaf and hearing-impaired children and parents who focus on teaching deaf and hearing-impaired children to listen and speak with the assistance of modern advanced hearing aids and cochlear implants.

The Indiana School for the Deaf currently provides outreach services to parents of deaf and hearing-impaired children related to education.

The bill takes away that duty and places it in the new independent center.

Critics of the Indiana School for the Deaf say it almost exclusively focuses on sign language and steers parents away from oral learning.

Embassy Theatre to serve alcohol

The Indiana House voted 81-7 Monday night to give final approval to a bill making Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre eligible for an alcohol permit.

Area legislators thought they made this possible two years ago before an error was found.

House Bill 1054 allows the Embassy to buy an existing alcohol permit but not outside of the existing quota.

It now heads to Gov. Mitch Daniels’ desk for approval.

College-credit ‘creep’ review OK’d

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education will review whether public colleges and universities require too many credit hours to earn a degree under a bill given final approval Monday by the House.

House Bill 1220 passed 62-21.

It aims to address “credit creep” – the notion that many degrees in Indiana now require more than 120 credit hours to complete. This means Hoosiers pay more for their college education.

It is one of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ legislative agenda items and now heads to his desk for his signature.

The bill gives universities and colleges the flexibility to provide justifications for higher levels of credits if they meet certain requirements.

The commission also can review the credits only every three years.