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Lawmakers to study absenteeism, artificial intelligence; cannabis not on the agenda

Todd Huston stands at a lectern on the Senate floor, with Rodric Bray looking on. Huston is a White man with dark graying hair, wearing a blue suit. Bray is a White man with dark graying hair, wearing glasses and a black suit.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), left, and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), right, each vote on the topics to be considered by study committees.

Indiana lawmakers will explore school absenteeism, artificial intelligence and homeowners associations, among other issues, during this year’s legislative study committees.

Study committee agendas are voted on by the four Statehouse caucus leaders — two Republicans and two Democrats. A topic needs at least three votes to be studied.

The committees have generated far fewer recommendations and proposal legislation in recent years. House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said he’s urging his members to consider what they’re trying to accomplish through study committees.

“What needs to be done in this format, what can be done just by members doing other work so that it isn’t, frankly, a waste of time but that something of value comes out of it,” Huston said.

One topic not on the study committee agenda is cannabis. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said lawmakers have delved into the issue the past two years.

“It’s not to say, however, there won’t be some people looking at that over the summer,” Bray said.

READ MORE: Federal move to reclassify cannabis as less dangerous could prompt action in Indiana

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Democrats take issue with the fact that the Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs hasn’t met since 2020 and wasn’t given any issues to study this year.

“When we’re looking at issues of water quality, air quality, the impact of climate change … I think it would be very beneficial for the environment committee to meet in order to address some of these issues,” said Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington).

Study committees, which are open to the public, will begin meeting in the next few months.

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.