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Over the interim, lawmakers will look at Medicaid expenses, AI, and other issues

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Indianapolis, Indiana – The next time Indiana lawmakers gather at the Statehouse for make-shift committee sessions, they will discuss Medicaid spending, artificial intelligence (AI), and other topics, but they won’t revisit marijuana.

Legislative sessions in Hoosier state begin in January and last until March or April, contingent upon the year. In the interim, legislators dedicate time to studying particular subjects, after which they report back to their peers on any conclusions or proposed legislation.

“During the interim we look to our study committees to take deep dives into hot-button policy issues and determine what, if any, legislation should be pursued during the upcoming session,” House Speaker Todd Huston said in a news release. “There are a broad range of topics on deck for the summer, and we’ll keep our focus on doing what’s right by Hoosier taxpayers and building on Indiana’s tremendous economic momentum.”

On Tuesday, the Legislative Council unveiled its subjects.

Unlike previous interim listings, marijuana is not included in this list. Though a House committee decided to take hearing on the matter for the first time in 2023, bipartisan attempts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana have consistently failed to gain traction at the Statehouse.

But more attention will be paid to AI. In the meanwhile, a dedicated committee will conduct a more thorough investigation of the measures that lawmakers took during the last session.

Members will research the technology, weigh the advantages and hazards to the state, and consider how Hoosiers might be impacted by state use of AI. Subsequently, they would formulate suggestions on leveraging artificial intelligence to “achieve greater operational performance and efficiency of government services.”

Members of an education committee—notably absent from the list during the last interim—will look at how student absences affect money distribution to schools, the effects of absenteeism on children, and “school discipline related to creating a safe environment and improving educational access.”

Reports on child safety from the Department of Child Services, state and local child death review teams, and other sources will be reviewed by a child services committee.

They will also start actively planning through the fiscal policy committee for the next budget session. It is the responsibility of that body to analyze tax spending reports “for preparation and consideration” of the budget, in addition to multi-year reviews of workforce-related programs and tax incentives.

The budget will also take into account other subjects.

For instance, Medicaid is consuming an increasing amount of the state budget. After the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration revealed a $1 billion forecasting miscalculation in December, lawmakers’ concerns about rising Medicaid spending have intensified.

The Medicaid Oversight Committee was reauthorized during the last session, and it will reconvene to examine, deliberate, and offer suggestions pertaining to the government healthcare program for the low-income.

Medicaid is an entitlement program, which means that those who fit the qualifications can apply for coverage. States can limit coverage options in order to save money, even though the federal government bears the majority of the costs.

There will also be a number of large-scale, two-year initiatives.

One tool that lawmakers intend to employ to restructure or perhaps eliminate some taxes is the State and Local Tax Review Task Force. Its responsibilities include looking into the state’s debt, pension funding, vast range of tax kinds, and both short- and long-term financial outlooks.

Another is the Task Force on Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow, which was similarly reauthorized during the most recent session following a retirement of several years.

Indiana’s road funding money comes largely from motor fuel taxes, but that revenue expected to drop as cars become more fuel efficient and Hoosiers opt for electric vehicles. Lawmakers and transportation experts will reconvene to figure out how to finance the state’s future infrastructure needs.

Some lawmakers critiqued the interim topic list.

Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, said she was “extremely disappointed” the study topics didn’t include environmental issues, and highlighted water resource management as a specific concern.

“When we talk about healthcare and health outcomes, jobs, affordable housing, infrastructure — these are all issues underpinned by the quality of our natural environment and the resources it provides us,” Yoder said in a news release. “We cannot expect continued economic growth and prosperity for Hoosiers without protecting our natural resources — and we will continue to face poor qualities of place until Legislators give these topics the proper time and energy. An interim study committee on the environment is the least we could do.”

 

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