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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 20, 2018 1:00 am

Banks joins House education panel

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks has been appointed to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The House Republican Conference on Wednesday chose Banks, R-3rd, to fill a vacancy on the committee, his office announced.

“While we have made tremendous progress this Congress to grow the economy through tax cuts and regulatory rollback, there is still a critical need to fill the skills gap between training and available jobs,” Banks said in a statement. “I look forward to serving as a voice for the many schools and colleges in northeast Indiana and ensuring our students have the tools, resources and access to quality education they need to succeed.”

As a committee member, Banks will serve on the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee.

It's not the first time Banks has been on an education panel – he served on the state-level Education Committee when he was in the Indiana Senate. The panel is led by state Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and its hearings are known for being painstakingly long.

Banks even tweeted about it, saying, “Really hoping these hearings don't last nearly as long as Senator Kruse-led @INSenateGOP Education committee hearings.”

Banks will continue to be a member of the House Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs committees but will give up his seat on the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Also on the Education and the Workforce Committee are Indiana Reps. Luke Messer, R-6th, and Todd Rokita, R-4th, each of whom did not seek re-election this year and instead ran for the GOP nomination for a Senate seat, losing in the May 8 primary election to former state lawmaker Mike Braun.

Banks is being challenged in the Nov. 6 general election by Democrat Courtney Tritch.

Summer assignments

The state's Legislative Council assigned dozens of topics to summer study committees last week.

These panels sometimes recommend whether legislation should move forward in the next session.

Both medical marijuana and industrial hemp will get a look by lawmakers. Another topic that is always controversial is whether Indiana should join the rest of the nation with a hate crimes law.

Legislators also are going to study how to improve the Department of Child Services' computer system. This comes as the executive branch awaits an outside analysis on the troubled agency.

Other topics:

• Potential fiscal impact to governmental entities and the existing gambling industry that sports wagering might have in Indiana and its potential impact on pro and collegiate sports.

• The fiscal, economic, and workforce development impact of Indiana smoking rates. 

• Whether local units can impose a local innkeeper's tax on short-term rentals.

• Whether enhanced funding for Level 6 felons in county jails would assist in regional jail financing.

Local appointments

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently made appointments to various state boards and commissions.

Several area Hoosiers were tapped:

• Michael Deam of Fort Wayne, was appointed to the Business Law Survey Commission.

• Erik Smith of Hartford City will serve on the Governor's Council for People with Disabilities.

• Zachary Klutz was reappointed to the Indiana Election Commission. The attorney used to live in Fort Wayne but moved to Fishers with his wife, Tera Klutz, the state auditor.

• Larry Clemens of Angola, was reappointed to the Soil Conservation Board.

County Democrats meet for dinner

The Allen County Democratic Party had its annual Pasta & Politics Dinner on Friday, hosted by Fort Wayne drag queen Della Licious. 

“A great deal of work went into increasing voter turnout for the primary,” County Democratic Party Chairwoman Misti Meehan said in a statement before the event. “Democrats across Allen County are engaged. Citizens are reaching out, clubs and caucuses are out in the community, and people who never considered running are realizing they are exactly who should be running.”

Retired union president Chuck Jones was the keynote speaker. Other speakers were 3rd Congressional District candidate Courtney Tritch and Indiana secretary of state candidate Jim Harper. 

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.