State lawmakers finish session, Sen. Coats discusses situation in Ukraine

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Lawmakers in the General Assembly have now adjourned for the year after making their final votes on several key pieces of legislation, including a controversial bill dealing with guns in school parking lots and bills to expand mass transit and pre-kindergarten.

Legislators also approved a plan to fund major road construction projects across the state. A House-Senate conference committee came to terms on House Bill 1002, which would release $200 million in funding, with an option to spend other $200 million on roads in the near future.

The House and Senate also approved a pre-K pilot program, one of Gov. Mike Pence’s top priorities.  The compromise measure allows for a pilot program for early education, using up to $10 million in existing state funds that were left unspent. It also mandates that the state conduct a study tracking students to determine their progress in kindergarten and later grades.

Both chambers also passed legislation dealing with the business personal property tax Thursday, another of the governor’s key agenda items. Local government officials had raised concerns about the bill, but this year’s legislation would give local governments the option of phasing out the tax, and would also delay implementation of the bill for another year while lawmakers study the issue further.

A bill dealing with drug testing for some welfare recipients passed the House, but was shot down in the state Senate.

It was also a busy week on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers discussing the situation in Ukraine.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana) was our guest for this week’s edition of ‘On The Record’ and you can see more of our interview with Sen. Coats later today on FOX59.com and on FOX59 News Live at 5.

Portions of the interview will also air Sunday morning on FOX59 Morning News.

Coats wants U.S. allies to put political pressure on Russia as tensions mount in Ukraine. He believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking the wrong approach to restore order in the region by threatening an invasion.

Coats says U.S. allies need to work together and perhaps remove Russia from the powerful G-8, and he is calling on lawmakers to come together and develop a plan for dealing with Russia politically. He hopes a solution can be reached without military action.

In the video below, Coats answers your questions about veterans’ benefits, health care, and is also asked about whether he will run for re-election in 2016.