The Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters holds the distinction of advancing the first piece of legislation this session - members by a vote of 9-0 sent a bill tightening the state's human trafficking laws on for full Senate consideration.

Lawmakers, the governor, attorney general and anti-trafficking task forces all hope to have the legislation passed before the Super Bowl parties begin.

Also around the statehouse Thursday:

Trade union workers from Evansville to Angola traveled to the statehouse and waited in a line trailing down the sidewalk in front of the Capitol building.

Workers attending the protest said the states with right-to-work laws have the lowest average wages and that workplace injuries are more common because the workforce training standards slip.

GOP leadership contends that companies have avoided landing in Indiana because it does not have a RTW policy. Protestors want to see a list of these companies. More reporting to be done on this score...

Lawmakers Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and Charlie Brown, D-Gary, promoted a law banning smoking (HB1060) in most public places, including restaurants and bars, in Indiana.

Mayor Greg Ballard testified in favor of a House bill that would enable local voters to take a referendum vote on financing for a modernized mass transit systems. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, sponsored a bill (HB1073) that to create the necessary flexibility to fund and administer a modernized mass transit system. The committee will hold more hearings before voting on whether to advance the bill for a vote on the House floor.

Local government employees couldn't serve on boards that control their salaries and public officials couldn't hire their relatives under anti-nepotism and conflict-of-interest legislation considered Thursday by a House committee. Democrats skipped the hearing, denying GOP quorum necessary to vote on the bill.

The state also took in more revenue than it projected it would for December.

The Statehouse File's Megan Banta has more on that score:

Indiana's total revenue for December 2011 was $1.12 billion — about $12 million more than projected during a revenue forecast last month, according to a report released Thursday.

That figure is $53 million above the collections for the same period last fiscal year. Sales tax collections increased, totaling $529 million, or $24 million above collections for the same period last year.

December also saw a 2.1 percent increase in payroll withholdings compared to last year and a total of $345 million in individual income tax collections, which was $19 million more than last year but $12.5 million less than the monthly target.

State Budget Director Adam Horst said in a statement through the first six months of fiscal year 2012, state general fund revenues have increased 9.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

Sales tax collections and individual income tax collections have increased 7.6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, through the first six months of the fiscal year. On average, payroll withholdings have increased 4 percent.

"The first six months of the fiscal year typically represent 45 (percent) of annual collections with a greater percentage of tax revenues being received in the final six months of the fiscal year, especially during April, May and June," Horst said.

-The Statehouse File contributed to this report.


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