INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Senate committee stripped some major
provisions Tuesday night from legislation that ultimately would have
required schools to hold back third-graders if they can’t read at their
The Senate Appropriations Committee also voted to remove language in a bill
that would have allowed casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River to move
Both amended bills passed the committee and moved to the full Senate.
Under the original reading bill — one of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ top initiatives
— youngsters who cannot read at the third-grade level by the time they
finish third grade would not move on to the fourth grade starting in the
2012-13 school year. Exemptions could be made for certain students, such as
those with disabilities or those who have been held back for two or more
The bill required intensive intervention for those held back, such as
providing 90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction daily through
small groups, extended school days or other means. That alone could cost
more than $23 million, according to the Legislative Services Agency, the
General Assembly’s research arm.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, is among
legislative leaders concerned about passing any bill with significant costs
as Indiana’s government faces fiscal woes.
He won approval of an amendment that would require the Department of
Education and Board of Education to create reading and third-grade retention
programs on their own.
Kenley said if the department and board think the programs they develop cost
money, they could return to the Legislature next year to seek funding. If
they believe the programs can be implemented without additional funds, they
can move forward.
“The bill was so specific as to its instructions that ... it created an
actual fiscal impact,” Kenley said of the original bill.
The provision removed from the gambling measure had its supporters, who said
allowing riverboat casinos to move inland would have helped stave off
competition from gambling expansion in neighboring states.
But some casinos opposed the bill, fearing they could lose business to rival
in-state casinos that move inland.
The Casino Association of Indiana, which represents 12 of the state’s 13
casinos, had asked for the land-based issue to be delayed for at least a
year. It said four of its member casinos supported allowing riverboats to
move inland, and eight were opposed.
“We got some pretty negative signals and pretty negative comments regarding
efforts to deal with this issue,” Kenley said. “I personally think we’re
making a pretty big mistake not going forward with that, but I didn’t want
to jeopardize other elements of the bill.”
Those include provisions designed to help casinos at the state’s two
pari-mutuel horse-racing tracks as well as a casino in southern Indiana’s
Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said she was disappointed that the land-based
provision was removed. She supports a push to have one of two Gary riverboat
casinos moved inland to a major intersection of freeways in Gary, saying it
would attract more customers and bring more tax revenue to the state.
She noted that people in Ohio voted in November to allow four casinos in
that state, and said Indiana should act now to help stave off out-of-state
“This window of opportunity might not be available next year,” she said,
adding that she would try to get the land-based provisions restored in the