Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz says she would like to see the state cover the costs of textbook rentals.

Ritz included the request in her proposed schools budget she submitted to the State Budget Agency on Thursday. She is also asking for a 3 percent increase in education spending.

Indiana is one of eight states to charge families for textbook costs.

Gov. Mike Pence is set to deliver a budget proposal to the General Assembly in January. Pence has typically favored spending and tax cuts over increased spending like Ritz is calling for.

Republican leaders say they strived to protect education from the deep cuts some other agencies faced through the recession. But Democrats still point out that schools took a $300 million hit during the recession.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A federal appeals court has upheld Indiana’s right-to-work law banning mandatory union fees in a split decision.

Two judges on the three-member panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the state law doesn’t wrongfully take property from unions and is constitutional. But Chief Judge Diane Wood dissented, writing that federal labor law “does not support such sweeping force for Indiana’s right-to-work law.”

The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Thursday on a pair of cases challenging the law on state constitutional grounds. Indiana became the first Rust Belt state to approve a right-to-work law in 2012.

The legislative fight drew thousands of union protesters to the Statehouse in 2011 and 2012, in one of the state’s most divisive and drawn-out debates.

BEDFORD, Ind. (AP) – Visitors to the Hoosier National Forest can take a hike or watch a Dutch oven cook at a celebration scheduled later this month.

The Wonders of Wilderness Celebration marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The event will be held Sept. 27 in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness.

Visitors can see the Hoosier National Forest’s mules and learn about the primitive tools used to maintain trails in the wilderness area. People can also try to cut a log with a crosscut saw.

The event also includes a search and rescue discussion and tips on how to remain safe when hiking in the forest.

Guided hikes on the rugged, six-mile Sycamore Loop Trail will start at 3 p.m.

CRANE (AP)-The Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue’s Discovery Park have signed a partnership agreement aimed at showcasing their intellectual property and moving their innovations to the public.

Crane and Purdue will remain independent in ownership of their intellectual property, but Crane’s intellectual property will be marketed alongside Purdue University’s innovations through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization.

Purdue Research Foundation President Dan Hasler says because much of Crane’s and Purdue’s research is focused on similar disciplines and industries, the partnership could lead to bundling Crane’s and Purdue’s licensing deals.

Brooke Pyne from Crane’s Technology Transfer Office says partnering with academia provides Crane a credible avenue to move even more innovative technology through the commercialization pipeline.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana House of Representatives’ Statehouse chamber and committee rooms are getting a $750,000 upgrade that includes new leather chairs.

The improvements include new carpeting throughout the chamber, improved digital cables and 127 new leather chairs. The chairs were bought from the Indiana Furniture Company in Jasper for $760 apiece.

The Indianapolis Star reports (http://indy.st/Vh1U0O ) House staff has allocated $338,000 so far for upgrades to the House chambers and committee rooms. Roughly $130,000 has been spent so far this summer.

Republican House staff said they are selling the old chairs to earn back some of the money.

Office upgrades at the Statehouse have been a political sticking point for some. Republicans questioned Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s decision to spend $86,000 on improvements at her offices last year.

AUGUSTA (AP)-Federal officials are honoring the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for its work at an abandoned coal mine in southwestern Indiana’s Pike County.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining gave the DNR the 2014 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Award for its work to remove a dangerous ledge left from the removal of soils above coal seams near the town of Augusta.

The ledge was more than 4,000 feet long and was up to 100 feet high in spots.

Crews also replaced a deteriorating county road and built a stream channel as part of the project.

DNR officials negotiated with Triad Mining to perform the work for about $300,000. The original cost estimate was $6.2 million.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana Department of Transportation has told highway crews to suspend road work during the Fourth of July weekend to try to improve the flow of traffic.

INDOT officials say the road work moratorium begins at noon Thursday and will run through Monday morning. Contractors have been told to pull back barrels and barricades to the safest extent possible, although some closures and restrictions will remain in place on larger projects that cannot be safely opened to traffic.

Transportation department officials are urging drivers to comply with speed limits, keep a safe distance from other vehicles and avoid driving aggressively.