Pence seeks tort reform in first year

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— Gov.-elect Mike Pence will include tort reform in a first-year legislative agenda that is slowly taking shape.

Pence has declined to release the details of his legislative agenda before he is sworn in Monday. But Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he filed Pence’s proposal to make losers in lawsuits pay all the legal fees.

Delph also is leading a group of senators who will push Pence’s proposal for a 10 percent cut in the personal income tax.

The tort reform measure has long been a priority among conservatives nationwide and would change Indiana’s law to require the losers pay all the fees for civil lawsuits. Judges now have discretion over who decides.

Pence never mentioned tort reform while running for governor but he pushed the issue while serving in Congress. Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Pence has said that he plans to meet with legislative leaders shortly after his inauguration next week to discuss his agenda. He also said he will submit his first budget next week.

Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, plans to push a Pence proposal to create workforce councils around the state. The councils would be run through the Indiana Education Roundtable and try to match high school students with open jobs around the state.

Pence and the Legislature’s top Republicans have said they want to spend 2013 finding ways to train students in the skills needed for new manufacturing jobs.

The tax cut and workforce development proposals were talked about in Pence’s campaign “roadmap.” But the specifics of how Pence would accomplish many of those campaign promises has remained a question that many expect to be answered once drafted as legislation.


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