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Lawmakers may only need a single day to pass unfinished bills during special session

File photo of Indiana Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s special session in May could be a one-day job in which lawmakers only take up bills that were on the cusp of passing before last week’s legislative meltdown, House Speaker Brian Bosma said Wednesday.

“It’ll just be critical issues that really need to be dealt with this year,” the Indianapolis Republican said of the special legislative session that Gov. Eric Holcomb announced earlier this week. Bosma added that he wants it to be “short and efficient.”

In recent days, Republicans have come under withering attacks from Democrats and even conservative pundits for their mismanagement of the legislative session’s final moments.

“Let’s just say it wasn’t perfect, and we acknowledge that,” Bosma said Wednesday, adding that there were some distractions and miscalculations.

A number of major bills died last week after bickering Republicans — who have commanding super majorities in both chambers — blew past a midnight deadline to adjourn on Wednesday.

Legislators had spent much of the last few days in closed-door meetings, honoring retiring members — including Republican Senate Leader David Long — or arguing over the fine details of some of the bills that died as time ran out.

Included among those are measures adjusting Indiana tax law to comply with new federal rules and a bill that would have provided more money for school safety.

Both Holcomb and Bosma have signaled those items are on the agenda for special session.

Democrats, meanwhile, have ridiculed Republicans over the decision to call the special session.

Sen. Tim Lanane and House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, the two Democratic Statehouse leaders, both said they would donate their special session pay. Other Democrats urged Republicans to follow suit.

Bosma and Long have pledged to do so, but it’s unclear if rank-and-file members will follow suit.

“It is good to see that even the Republicans who run the Indiana House and Senate realize that it is asking too much to keep their pay for a special session that has come about through their own ineptitude,” Goodin said.

Democrats have also used the occasion to get in digs at Republicans over their refusal to take up legislation that would address problems in the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency. They declined to do so in the regular session, and Holcomb closed the door on the possibility of doing so during the special session, stating Monday that any legislative action could wait for 2019.

In December, the head of Indiana’s child welfare agency resigned in a scathing letter accusing Holcomb’s administration of management changes and service cuts that “all but ensure children will die.”

Both Goodin and Lanane said they would donate their special session pay to charities that benefit at-risk children.