[r72] A Clere view of the Statehouse: Things are fairly busy in Indy (8/2/2011)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Start Date: 8/2/2011 All Day
End Date: 8/2/2011

Things are fairly busy in Indy

If you're tired of the political demolition derby that has been playing out on television over the last several weeks, perhaps a real one would be a nice change of pace. The Indiana State Fair will end Aug. 21 with the Lucas Oil Demolition Derby and fireworks. In the meantime, there's something for everyone at the fair, which opens Friday.

Regardless of whether you make it to the fair, you might still want to pay attention to what's happening in Indianapolis. Back in June, I wrote about summer legislative study committees, which were just then starting to meet. The legislature isn't scheduled to convene again until Organization Day in November, but there will be a lot of important activity between now and then.

Here's a schedule of upcoming meetings and a little bit about what's going on:

  • Interim Study Committee on Insurance, 10 a.m. today. Legislation often ends up in a study committee instead of becoming law - at least initially. Such is the case with a bill introduced this year that would have increased medical pricing transparency for patients.

  • Pension Management Oversight Commission, 1 p.m. tomorrow. Teachers and other public employees and retirees may want to tune in to learn about the changes in management of the retirement funds and about the math behind the funds.

  • Environmental Quality Service Council, 1 p.m. Thursday. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management will report on its activities and the state of the state's environment.

  • Interim Study Committee on Driver Education, 1:30 p.m. Monday. The committee will take up several topics, including whether the driving age should be increased to 17 for new drivers who haven't taken driver education.

  • Commission on Mental Health and Addiction, 1 p.m. Aug. 9 and Sept. 6. At its first meeting, the commission will receive updates on a variety of topics.

  • Commission on Developmental Disabilities, 1 p.m. Aug. 10 and Sept. 7. An agenda hasn't been posted yet.

  • State Fair Advisory Committee, 10 a.m. Aug. 16. The committee will discuss establishing a foundation, which was authorized by legislation this year, and other strategic planning issues.

  • Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions, 10 a.m. Aug. 23, Sept. 6, Sept. 20 and Oct. 11. Each meeting is scheduled to last all day. The first will include presentations on the nation's transportation infrastructure. The following three meetings will focus, respectively, on Indiana's urban, rural and multi-modal transportation infrastructure.

  • Select Joint Commission on Medicaid Oversight, 10 a.m. Aug. 23. An agenda hasn't been posted yet.

  • Interim Study Committee on Education, 1 p.m. Aug. 25. At its first meeting, which was last week, the committee heard testimony on superintendent pay. The next meeting will include more information on the topic along with discussion of high school graduation rates.

  • Legislative Council Data Processing Subcommittee, 11 a.m. Sept. 1. The committee with the least glamorous name will study one of the hottest new devices - the iPad - and whether the legislature should start using them.

  • Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues, 9 a.m. Sept. 7. The committee met for the first time last week and heard testimony on so-called right-to-work legislation - the issue that sparked the five-week walkout during this year's session. It's a topic that's not going away, and I'm glad it's receiving attention as part of the summer study process.

  • Regulatory Flexibility Committee, 9:30 a.m. Sept. 13 and 21. OK, so there's competition for the least glamorous committee name. The committee monitors competition in the energy utility and telecommunications industries. An agenda hasn't been posted yet.

The calendar is updated daily.  Go to www.in.gov/legislative and look under "Interim Study Committees" in the menu on the left side of the page. The meetings are open to the public, and most are broadcast on the Internet. If you do not have Internet access and would like to receive information, call my legislative assistant, Clinton Bohm, at 1-800-382-9841.

Meanwhile, over at the fair, there's way too much going on to list everything here, but I'll highlight a few fun events:

  • Marsh Band Day Competition - Friday. Band day is all day. The marching competition starts at 8:30 a.m. and wraps up with awards at 11 p.m. Marsh is the name of the supermarket chain that sponsors the competition.

  • Giant Hot Air Balloon Race - Aug. 13. The race starts at dawn with the launch of the Indiana Propane Gas Foundation hare balloon. I suggest going the night before for the balloon glow.

  • Traditional Arts Indiana State Fair Fiddle Contest - Aug. 13. After the balloons lift off, enjoy a showcase of Indiana's many fiddle styles from bluegrass to old-time to western swing.

  • Old-Fashioned Pancake Breakfast - Aug. 17. Start your day at the fair off right with a breakfast presented by the Indiana Farm Bureau. For a $3 donation to the Indiana FFA Foundation you'll get pancakes, sausage, veal bacon and coffee, juice or milk.

The fair program is available at www.in.gov/statefair; contact my legislative assistant for a printed copy. Admission to the fair is $8; children 5 and younger are admitted free. There are additional admission charges for some events, including the demolition derby and band contest.

Political metaphors abound at the fair. Consider, for example, the description from the Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for the King Arthur Flour Contest: "Golden brown, craggy from a surfeit of chips, these moist cookies bend, then reluctantly break to reveal a lava flow of melted chocolate. Truly - if you're a chewy chocolate chip cookie lover, it just doesn't get any better than this. The surprise ingredient? Vinegar. The small amount of vinegar accomplishes two things: it tempers the sweetness of the sugar just a bit allowing the flavors of the chocolate and butter to shine through, and it reacts with the sodium bicarbonate in the leavener, giving the cookies a little extra lift in the oven. Try it, you'll like it."

The recipe is available on the fair website. If the use of vinegar - in cookies or in politics - is too much to think about right now, just stroll over to the swine show. It will tide you over until you can get back home to cable news.