Indiana lawmakers back in session after weather delay

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After being delayed one day because of the winter storm, Indiana lawmakers returned to work Tuesday afternoon for this year’s legislative session.

Both the House and Senate convened late Tuesday, with many legislators excused and unable to attend because of the weather.

House minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, delivered the traditional opening day remarks, calling for a rejection of the amendment that would place a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.

“Let’s set ideology aside and work together to solve real problems,” said Pelath.

The governor’s proposal to phase out a tax on business machinery and equipment was also expected to be a major item of debate in the coming session. State lawmakers have just 10 weeks to finish their work, with the session scheduled to wrap up by March 14.

Included among the bills already handed down or filed are a bill that would expand the state’s voucher program for preschoolers, and a bill that would allow school districts to put tax levies on the ballot to pay for school safety personnel.

Several bills that failed last year are back, including the mass transit bill, Sunday alcohol sales, and a new version of the controversial ‘ag-gag’ bill which dealt with undercover farm videos.

House Republicans planned to officially unveil their 2014 legislative agenda at a news conference Wednesday morning at the Statehouse.