Social issues not the focus heading into 2017 Indiana legislative session

On Monday, the Indiana Chamber laid out its 2017 legislative agenda. (WISH Photo)
On Monday, the Indiana Chamber laid out its 2017 legislative agenda. (WISH Photo)

 INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As Indiana lawmakers prepare for the upcoming session, it appears the focus will be off social issues.

The focus, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said Monday is on the budget, roads and education, not items including LGBT protections and abortion.

“People in Indiana feel very strongly about some of these core issues, and they don’t agree on them today,” Rep. Bosma said. “So to force a solution that makes one side or the other a winner, or loser, is a very difficult situation that’s probably not right for Hoosiers.”

He isn’t alone. On Monday, three other Indiana lawmakers joined him for a packed Indiana Chamber luncheon.

The group invited the lawmakers to lay out its agenda. The chamber is focused on eight things, including roads, education, health care and LGBT protections.

“We can’t rest on our laurels, we can’t stand still,” Indiana Chamber President & CEO, Kevin Brinegar said. “And we have to keep working particularly to train our workforce for the jobs of the future, as well as those that are open now.”

In order to do that, the chamber is pushing for road funding, by increasing the gas tax, adding a toll or fees on alternative fuel vehicles. To improve health care, increasing the tobacco tax.

And with education, fix state testing and help low-income families with pre-K. The lawmakers seemed open to those ideas.

But when it comes to civil rights, they aren’t sold. “People are always going to propose legislation,” State Senate Pro-Tem David Long said. “Whether that has a chance of seeing daylight or not, that depends on a lot of factors.”

But with protests taking place across the country over the election, lawmakers say things could change. “We have to be mindful of the people out there who are afraid,” State Rep. Scott Pelath said. “We have to be protective of our groups of citizens. We have to recommit to maintaining their civil rights.”

We’ll soon learn more about what direction each party will take. On Tuesday, members will meet at the statehouse to organize their agenda. The Indiana legislative session reconvenes in January.