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General Assembly

Lawmakers bring pre-K pilot program closer to reality

– House Speaker Brian Bosma said Wednesday legislative leaders are near agreement on a pre-kindergarten pilot program that would go into effect next year.

Senate Republicans still hadn’t finalized the deal, though today is the final day of the 2014 session.

Bosma said the proposal is for a five-county pilot program providing preschool to poor Hoosier children.

Indiana is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t directly invest in early childhood education.

The cost of the program is unknown, but Bosma said it would be funded by Gov. Mike Pence through reversions from the Family and Social Services Administration.

This is money set aside for the agency that is not spent.

Bosma said there would be a matching component to the program from private donors.

Common Core out

The Indiana Senate voted 35-13 Wednesday to void Common Core academic standards.

Senate Bill 91 now goes to Pence for his signature.

The legislation is effectively moot because the State Board of Education has been writing new standards set to be approved possibly next month.

The bill requires those new standards to be in place by July 1.

Some Hoosiers have complained that the draft of new standards are eerily similar to Common Core.

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, withdrew his name from the bill he has championed for two years because of a reference in the bill to a federal waiver.

He also voted against it, expressing concern that the process is being used to adopt Common Core under a different name.

“In my opinion that will be a monumental violation of the public trust,” Schneider said.

All northeast Indiana senators supported the measure.

Municipal recycling

Legislation that sets a goal for Indiana to eventually recycle at least half its municipal waste is headed to Pence’s desk after passing the General Assembly.

Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition,said the bill will create jobs and shift trash away from Indiana’s landfills.

The bill authored by Republican state Rep. Dave Wolkins of Warsaw originally included a provision requiring Indiana to meet the 50 percent recycling goal by 2019, but that was later removed.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the bill last week. A measure included in the bill directs Indiana to create a system that will track recycling.

Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said the bill was part of the governor’s legislative agenda.

She said Pence believes “it is time for a fresh look at recycling in Indiana.”