General Assembly Mid-way Point Review

INDIANAPOLIS (AP): The Indiana General Assembly has reached the midway point of his four-month budget-writing session. Here's a look at some of the top issues lawmakers have dealt with:

STATE BUDGET: House Republicans have advanced a $31 billion, two-year spending plan to the Senate. It calls for 2.3 percent increases in school funding, but the proposed shifting of tens of millions of dollars to growing suburban districts would lead to cuts for many urban and rural districts with shrinking enrollments. A final budget deal won't be reached until near the Legislature's deadline to adjourn in late April.

EDUCATION CONTROL: House and Senate Republicans have endorsed separate bills allowing Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz to be removed as the state Board of Education's leader. The proposals would allow the board to elect its own chairman rather than have Ritz automatically hold that position. Ritz supporters say the change would disenfranchise voters who elected her in 2012.

A bill that would have legalized Sunday carryout alcohol sales died last week when its sponsor decided he didn't have enough support among House members to win approval. The House by a wide margin approved easing state gambling laws to permit riverboat casinos to move onto land and allow live dealers for table games at the two horse track casinos despite Pence's opposition to the live dealer provisions. The fate of those changes in the Senate is uncertain.

RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS: Senators approved a bill backed by social conservatives that they say would protect people and businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages on the basis of their faith. Opponents argue the measure could essentially legalize discrimination.

CONSTRUCTION WAGES: House Republicans pushed through a bill to eliminate the boards that set construction wages for public projects, saying it would save state and local governments millions by allowing more contractors to pay wages below union scale. The measure is being backed by groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana and Kentucky, which represents non-union companies. Opponents argue the change would hurt Indiana businesses by opening the door for low-paying, out-of-state contractors.