Photo: Sandy Hawk (flickr)
10. Indiana Supreme Court upholds voucher law
The state Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s law that allows the state to fund private school vouchers.
The Indiana State Teachers Association and other voucher opponents challenged the two-year-old Choice Scholarship Program on the grounds that most participating schools are religiously affiliated.
But the Supreme Court ruled the funds are not going directly to the religious institutions, and, therefore, the law does not violate the constitution.
Later in the year, another bill was signed into law expanding the voucher program.
9. Freedom Indiana fights against amendment banning gay marriage.
A grassroots, bipartisan coalition of Indiana business, faith and community leaders launched a campaign in August against House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR6).
The resolution that could come to a vote in the upcoming legislative session calls for an amendment to the state’s constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Since the campaign began, several more universities and businesses have joined Freedom Indiana, voicing their opposition to the measure.
8. Indiana overhauls state criminal code
Indiana legislators approved a bill aimed at making sentences for the worst criminal offenses more severe while reducing the penalties for low-level crimes, particularly first-time drug offenses.
Its authors argue that will keep people out of prison and instead focus on rehabilitation at the local level.
In the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers could address how to pay for the measure, which is expected to cost local groups $10.5 million.
7. Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller become top NBA draft picks.
Indiana University basketball stars Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were chosen as the No. 2 and No. 4 draft picks for the NBA.
Oladipo was chosen by the Orlando Magic. The Charlotte Bobcats selected Cody Zeller.
Mike Pence took over as governor after Mitch Daniels left office because of term limits.
Building on his campaign promises, Pence focused heavily on jobs during his first year. This month, he announced the state received a record number of job commitments, although those may not all translate into actual hires.
Pence created three agencies aimed at linking education to career readiness. Those include the Career Council, Regional Works Councils, a and Center for Education and Career Innovation.
He also strongly supported a repeal of the medical device tax, which he says is hurting Indiana’s life sciences industry.
5. Mitch Daniels becomes Purdue University’s president.
After leaving office this year, former governor Mitch Daniels became the president of Purdue University and quickly made headlines.
An AP report indicating Daniels tried to censor a liberal historian’s work while Daniels was in office sparked a debate about academic freedom and whether Daniels was meddling too far into classroom affairs.
Daniels also initiated a two-year tuition freeze at Purdue.
4. Thousands of ISTEP+ tests halted after technical problems.
About 79,000 students’ standardized exams were affected by server crashes on two separate testing days.
While 1,400 exams were thrown out because of the problems, an outside testing firm hired to review the scores indicated the disruptions did not affect the overall scores.
3. Sequestration furloughs federal workers, cut budgets for grants and nonprofit organizations.
Federal employees, including National Guard technicians and Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center employees, were forced to take unpaid leave because the federal government failed to reach a budget deal.
Head Start programs were also hit. About 700 children were removed from the program because of the budget cuts. However, a budget deal made late this year could restore some of those slots.
Twenty-six tornadoes swept through the state in mid-November. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, but no one was injured.
Kokomo and Washington, Ind., were some of the hardest hit areas.
The federal government initially denied Indiana’s request for federal assistance, prompting the state to appeal that decision.
After further FEMA inspections, the state is now waiting to hear back on FEMA’s final decision.
1. Indiana debates Medicaid expansion.
The federal government granted Indiana a one-year extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state’s Medicaid alternative program.
The state is still in negotiations with federal officials on whether it could expand Medicaid coverage using HIP.
Even with the federal subsidies for health insurance taking effect under the Affordable Care Act, about 400,000 Hoosiers fall into what is being called the Medicaid coverage gap. They are too poor to qualify for health care subsidies on the health exchange, but they also do not qualify for Medicaid coverage.
What do you think were the top stories of 2013? Let us know in the comments section below.