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Knightstown House May Not Be As Safe As Originally Thought

Last updated on Tuesday, March 31, 2009

(STATEHOUSE) - Supporters of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s home have lowered their sights from a permanent reprieve to a one-year stay of execution.

Last month, the House voted overwhelmingly to deny Governor Daniels or his successors the authority to close the Knightstown Facility, a step Daniels wants to take in May.

But the senate has buried the bill in its rules committee, traditionally a legislative graveyard. Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), whose district includes the home, says she's trying to blast the bill out in a weakened form that would keep the home open only until July of next year.

The proposal would create a 15-member task force of Knightstown alumni, administration officials, American Legion representatives and others.

They'd have until the end of the year to report to the legislature on whether the home's balance sheet can be improved. Supporters contend an astronomical cost-per-child ratio would drop if the home were to more actively seek placements from juvenile courts.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says he intends to address the home's future in the budget bill, but says he and other senate leaders haven't decided yet whether that future involves keeping it open or closed.

Kenley plans to unveil his version of the budget April 9. Following expected Senate approval the next week, House and Senate negotiators would have two weeks to hammer out a final plan.

About 250 home alumni, veterans and other supporters rallied at the statehouse Monday for the second time in two months.

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