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Huston lays out House GOP priorities, says 2024 should be 'transition year'

Todd Huston speaks into a microphone while seated. Huston is a White man with dark, graying hair, wearing a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
House Speaker Todd Huston said the 2024 legislative session should be a "transition year" with a more "focused agenda."

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said the 2024 legislative session should be a “transition year” with a more “focused agenda.”

Tuesday was Organization Day at the Statehouse, the ceremonial start to the new session.

As is tradition, the House speaker outlined his caucus’s priorities for the upcoming year, with reading proficiency at the top of the list. Huston set an ambitious goal — he wants Indiana to lead the nation in student reading proficiency, with 95 percent-plus success, by 2027. Indiana is currently at about 82 percent.

“And for students not meeting this key metric? They should be retained,” Huston said. “Passing them along is a terrible disservice to the student.”

Current law allows exemptions for students who don’t pass the reading proficiency in third grade to advance. Both House and Senate Republican leadership said those exemptions have become too broad.

READ MORE: Indiana legislative leaders temper expectations of major action in 2024 session

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Huston said developing a plan to widen Interstates 65 and 70 to three lanes statewide and protecting students on college campuses from antisemitism are also top priorities.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said there are other issues that demand attention.

“We can talk about things like affordable housing, that every community that we represent is struggling with,” Taylor said. “We can talk about child care.”

Republican leaders also mentioned child care as an area of focus this session.

Taylor said he will also push to allow citizen-led ballot initiatives in Indiana — something GOP leaders flatly oppose.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.