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Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.



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Coats, Donnelly, Walorski sound off on Obamacare, Farm Bill, G.I. tuition bill

The three lawmakers have been busy with a range of issues so far this week.



Posted on Feb. 5, 2014 at 2:29 p.m.

Wednesday Feb. 5, 2014

Indiana lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have been busy with issues ranging from the Farm Bill to Obamacare. Here's a rundown of some of what they've had to say so far this week:

OBAMACARE A 'JOB KILLER': U.S. Sen. Dan Coats and U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, both Republicans, seized on a Congressional Budget Office report Tuesday that, according to Politico, says Obamacare will lead Americans to work fewer hours, two million jobs worth by 2017.

Here's Walorski:

"As I have said before, the American people know Obamacare contains bad policies that are harming healthy economic growth and putting Americans out of work. I will continue to be at the table to work on common-sense legislation to repeal harmful provisions and fix our health care system without breaking the bank or hurting the workforce.”

Now Coats:

“This non-partisan report confirms that Obamacare is a job-killer... One of the pillars of The Indiana Way, my legislative agenda for 2014, is promoting alternative solutions to replace Obamacare with step-by-step reforms. Millions of American jobs are dependent on limiting the negative impacts of the law.”

OBAMACARE FULL-TIME WORKER DEFINITION: U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly expressed support for approval in a U.S. House committee of the Save American Workers Act.

Like a Senate bill co-authored by Donnelly, a Democrat, the House measure would define a full-time worker within the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as someone who works 40 hours a week, up from 30 hours. “It is my view — based on what I hear from Hoosier employees and employers — that we need to fix the definition of ‘full-time employee’ under the Affordable Care Act," Donnelly said in a statement.

He and others worry employers will cut part-time workers to 29 hours or less a week because of the 30-hour definition. Employers, thus, wouldn't be required to provide insurance to impacted workers, but the employees would also see a cut in take-home pay due to the reduced hours.

FARM BILL: Both Donnelly and Coats on Tuesday voted for the Farm Bill, approved by the Senate in a 68-32 vote and now to be signed into law by President Obama.

“This farm bill contains over $16 billion in cost savings, reforms outdated programs and reduces food stamp abuse,” Coats said in a statement.

“The Hoosier ag community now has the certainty it deserves,” said Donnelly.

Among other things, the bill reduces spending on food stamps by $8 billion over its 10 years, less than sought by the House, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Walorski voted last week for the Farm Bill in the House.

TUITION FOR VETERANS: Walorski expressed support Monday for passage of the G.I. Bill Tuition Fairness Act, which requires colleges that get G.I. Bill benefits to charge veterans in-state tuition rates.

Because of differing residency laws state to state "veterans often have a hard time establishing legal residency in certain states," Walorski's office said in a statement. Monday's bill would require colleges to charge in-state tuition to veterans "as a precondition for receiving GI Bill benefits, allowing veterans to attend schools and programs that would otherwise have been impossible."

A parallel bill awaits consideration in the Senate.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: The umbrella group of a coalition of Indiana organizations calling for immigration reform expressed support for a set of immigration reform guidelines put forth by House Republicans. The guidelines call for a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, though not necessarily a path to citizenship, as sought by Senate Democrats.

“Faith, law enforcement and business leaders from across the country recognize that we need a new immigration process," Ali Noorani, head of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement released Tuesday. "They see that the Republican standards will help us get there. And they are letting their members of Congress know that Americans are ready for broad, bipartisan immigration reform this year.”

The National Immigration Forum is spearheading the Bibles, Badges and Business project, meant to promote immigration reform. The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and Goshen Chamber Commerce have expressed support for the BBB initiative and reps from the two groups traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to lobby for immigration reform.

Tim Vandenack is a reporter at the Elkhart Truth newspaper. Reach him at tvandenack@elkharttruth.com or 574-296-5884. Visit him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack.



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