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Pence working on bills as clock ticks

Preschool program among those to be signed today

– Gov. Mike Pence continued signing into law measures dealing with topics as varied as adoption and control of feral cat populations as the clock wound down on taking action on bills from the 2014 session.

Pence has one week from the time a bill reaches his desk to sign, veto or allow the measure to go into law without his signature. State lawmakers finished work during their 2014 session this month and have been awaiting Pence’s decisions on some key measures.

He delivered an answer Wednesday afternoon on one key measure, allowing Central Indiana counties to decide whether to raise taxes to pay for a mass-transit program.

“While I still have reservations about the sustainability of expanded mass transit services, I signed this bill because the General Assembly made significant improvements during the legislative process, bringing to closure years of debate on this issue,” Pence said in a statement.

Questions remained Wednesday, however, if he would veto a bill ending the state’s energy efficiency program. The battle has pitted environmentalists and a handful of top companies against the state’s manufacturing and utility interests.

Lawmakers ended their 2014 session two weeks ago, but bills have been trickling across the governor’s desk since then.

Pence planned to hold bill signings throughout the state today on a handful of his top priorities, including a preschool pilot program and new funding for major road expansions.

Outside the high-profile signings, Pence has inked an array of new measures into law. On Wednesday, he approved new regulations for feral cat populations in trailer parks, a series of measures promoting Indiana agriculture and new rules for the inspection of private buses. He also approved a measure that could promote the growth of industrial hemp, a sweeping overhaul of the state’s criminal sentencing rules and new rules for unlicensed child-care providers that receive government dollars.

He signed into law Tuesday a new tax credit to promote adoption, one of his 2014 agenda items. He also approved the creation of a program for female veterans and a measure encouraging veterans to become teachers.

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