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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 5:20 pm

Several issues unresolved as Indiana session nears end

BRIAN SLODYSKO and AILEEN CHUANG | Associated Press

 

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers were in agreement Tuesday on proposals to boost school safety funding and lift the state's ban on granting professional occupation licenses to young immigrants referred to as "Dreamers."

But several other key issues have yet to be resolved before the legislative session adjourns for the year on Wednesday. And many of the GOP majority's lingering policy plans had yet to come up for a final vote.

Negotiations continued on legislation to eliminate handgun licensing fees and making changes to the leadership of the state's workforce development programs.

Other issues still in play include legislation allowing Ball State University to take over Muncie schools, a measure giving parents more control over sex education and a stopgap school funding bill.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, spent much of Tuesday giving speeches and honoring those who were retiring from the Legislature.

Earlier in the day members of joint conference committees, comprised of members of the House and Senate, appeared to strike agreement on language to boost school safety and allow young immigrants to obtain professional licenses.

Republican New Albany Rep. Ed Clere has championed the measure protecting "Dreamers." The term refers to young immigrants, typically brought to the U.S. illegally as children, who have had protection from deportation under a program developed under former President Barack Obama known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

DACA recipients can go to school and work. But under a recently adopted policy by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, they can no longer obtain or renew a professional license for dozens of professions ranging from cosmetology to nursing to real estate agents.

"There's been a growing realization of the urgency of this," said Clere. "Members are hearing from people all over the state who are impacted or would be impacted by the current situation and this is going to resolve that and help a lot of people and employers."

The school safety measure includes funding Gov. Eric Holcomb has sought in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

The Republican governor had requested 5 million in additional funding to improve school security.