News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 10, 2009

Legislator: ‘Difficult session’ is ahead

Libraries closing, FSSA, education brought up in crackerbarrel session

TERRE HAUTE — Family Social Service Agency issues, education and the future of the library dominated the first crackerbarrel session of the year Saturday morning.

Between 40 and 50 people attended to hear state Reps. Clyde Kersey, Vern Tincher, and Nancy Michael, and Sen. Tim Skinner speak about the long legislative session, which began Tuesday.

“We have good news and bad news from the legislature — most of it’s bad,” said Kersey, D-Terre Haute, noting that Indiana’s unemployment rate is 7.1 percent compared to the nation’s 7.2 percent and they’re dealing with a $736 million shortfall. “… It’s going to be a very difficult session.”

Kersey is carrying the maximum 15 bills a representative is allowed to carry. Some of these deal with allowing people to make a donation to food banks from their tax returns, requiring FBI background checks on teaching applicants and getting immunity for teachers in the classrooms.

“Teachers now cannot touch a student, if they do, they wind up in court,” he said, “so we’re working on some immunity for teachers. This came from Gov. [Mitch] Daniels, so Gov. Daniels and I agree on at least one thing.”

Tincher, D-Riley, is also carrying 15 bills. Though he didn’t go into detail about his bills, he did express concern with the governor’s plan cut funding to FSSA by 2 percent as well as the unemployment trust fund depleting and plans to possibly implement more of the Kernan-Shepard report, which streamlines local government.

One plan from the report would be to have a single county executive who would make appointments to the elected seats the county currently has, Tincher said.

“I think it really is harmful for representative government,” he said.

Skinner, D-Terre Haute, expressed a concern with the cut in funding to higher education and what that could mean for tuition and families.

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