Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, has an article on the General Assembly’s interim study committees. By and large (and with definite exceptions), these committees do not provide a lot of direct benefits. They tend to be a useful graveyard for ideas meeting resistance in the General Assembly. You can refer the idea to a study committee and you’ve successfully stopped the idea from becoming law while appearing to be doing something about the issue. Legislators get a per diem for attending the study committees during the summer, supplementing their income.
On the other hand, the study commissions do provide opportunities for legislators to become better informed about issues. When I was working for the legislature, my sense was that lobbyists had undue influence because of the information they had, not because of any ill intent or corruption on the part of the legislator. These representatives are confronted with a barrage of legislation on an incredibly wide spectrum of issues, and the landscape changes in a hurry during the legislative session. It’s very convenient to turn to a lobbyist known to the representative who has expertise on the particular matter. The more educated a lawmaker is, the less dependent on lobbyists they will hopefully be.
An index of the summer study committees is available here.