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Legislative leaders say 2024 session more substantive than planned, but much more to come in 2025

The western exterior of the Statehouse at night.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Lawmakers ended the 2024 legislative session nearly a week ahead of their deadline.

Prior to 2024, Republican legislative leaders called for a return to a normal session, with an agenda focused on small tweaks to existing policies.

Where it ended up was with bills far more substantive than many had imagined.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) touted measures to expand state education programs, ban antisemitism in higher education and provide benefit enhancements for public pension recipients.

All, Huston said, while starting the session later than usual and ending it nearly a week early.

“Got a lot of things done and saved the Hoosier taxpayers money by not having to pay us to be around,” Huston said.

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) said Republicans dropped the ball by continuing attacks on local government and not stopping Medicaid cuts to families with medically complex children.

Still, he said his caucus helped stop some bad bills, including education provisions he deemed “anti-labor.”

“If we can solve problems and recognize that we do have things to work on and stop what we feel are bad bills, we feel like it’s a pretty good session for us,” GiaQuinta said.

READ MORE: Perception of bipartisanship in Indiana legislature often doesn't match reality

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Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said lawmakers did a little more “heavy lifting” in 2024 than he thought they would. And he acknowledged that lawmakers punted a lot of issues to 2025, from health care to road funding to tax reform.

“We tried to stay away from some of those things because it’s a non-budget year. It’s a short session,” Bray said. “We were looking to be a little lower impact.”

Still, Senate priorities that reached the finish line included a measure to hold back thousands of students in a bid to improve reading proficiency and legislation that loosens some child care regulations to help improve access.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said 2024 was about missed opportunities.

“We had an opportunity this year to actually provide some relief to families from the high cost of child care,” Taylor said.

Instead, Taylor said, Republicans advanced bills to loosen or roll back regulations on child care and child labor — measures Taylor argued will endanger children.

All the leaders acknowledged that lawmakers this session set themselves up for major work in 2025.

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.