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Lawmakers to Interim Investigate AI, Medicaid Costs and More – Indianapolis News | Weather Indiana | Indiana traffic


INDIANAPOLIS (MIRROR INDY) – When Indiana lawmakers next gather at the Statehouse for interim committee meetings, they will address artificial intelligence (AI), Medicaid spending and more – but they won’t take another look at marijuana.

The Hoosier legislative sessions begin in January and run until March or April, depending on the year. In between, lawmakers spend time learning about specific topics and then provide reports to their colleagues summarizing any findings or bills.

“In the meantime, we look to our study committees to dive deep into current policy issues and determine what, if any, legislation to pursue in the upcoming session,” House Speaker Todd Huston said in a news release. “There are a wide range of topics on the agenda for the summer, and we will maintain our focus on doing what is right for Hoosier taxpayers and building on Indiana’s tremendous economic momentum.”

The Legislative Council released topics on Tuesday.

Marijuana is not included, contrary to previous interim lists. Bipartisan efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana have repeatedly failed to gain traction in the Statehouse, although in 2023 a House committee opted to hear testimony for the first time.

However, AI will receive more attention. Lawmakers took some related steps this past session, but in the meantime they will delve deeper in a special committee.

Members will study the technology, assess the benefits and risks to the state, and see how the state’s use of AI could impact Hoosiers. They will then develop recommendations for using AI to “achieve greater operational performance and efficiency of government services.”

In an education committee – which was notably missing from the list last time – members will examine the impact of absenteeism on students and the distribution of school funding, as well as ‘school discipline related to creating a safe environment and improving access to education ‘.

On a child welfare committee, they review reports from state and local child mortality review teams, as well as the Department of Child Services, on child safety.

They will also start preparing seriously for the upcoming budget session, through the budget committee. That body is charged with reviewing reports on tax expenditures “in preparation and consideration” of the budget, as well as multi-year reviews of tax benefits and workforce-related programs.

Other topics will also play a role in the budget.

For example, Medicaid is taking up an increasing share of the state budget. Lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about rising Medicaid costs, especially after the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration reported a $1 billion forecast error in December.

They reauthorized the Medicaid Oversight Committee this past session, and it will meet again to review, consider and make recommendations on the government’s low-income health care program.

Medicaid is an entitlement program, meaning people who meet eligibility requirements have the right to enroll in coverage. States foot part of the bill, although the federal government picks up the bulk of the cost. However, the state can also limit coverage options to reduce costs.

Several ambitious, two-year efforts will also continue.

One of those is the State and Local Tax Review Task Force, which lawmakers hope to use to revise or even eliminate some taxes. It is charged with examining the short- and long-term financial prospects, debt, pension funding, a long list of tax types and more.

Another is the Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow Task Force, which was also reauthorized last session after a yearlong retirement.

Indiana’s road funding money comes largely from motor fuel taxes, but those revenues are expected to decline as cars become more fuel-efficient and Hoosiers opt for electric vehicles. Lawmakers and transportation experts will meet again to figure out how to finance the state’s future infrastructure needs.

Some lawmakers criticized the interim list of topics.

Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, said she was “extremely disappointed” that the study topics did not include environmental issues, and highlighted water resources management as a specific issue.

“When we talk about healthcare and health outcomes, jobs, affordable housing, infrastructure – these are all issues that are supported by the quality of our natural environment and the resources it provides us,” Yoder said in a news release. “We cannot expect continued economic growth and prosperity for Hoosiers without protecting our natural resources – and we will continue to face poor qualities of place until lawmakers give these issues the proper time and energy. An interim environmental study committee is the least we can do.”