Indiana Legislative Update Controversy Heats Up

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With a month left in Session, legislators are starting to have to deal with some of the more difficult issues. This week, that means Indiana House members voting 57-39 on Tuesday to approve SB 198 after amending the bill just the day before to include bias crimes language that some lawmakers believe leaves some Hoosiers out in the cold. However, Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), who brought the amendment, said the revised language covers everyone possible. “I think everybody’s had a chance to be heard,” he said. “I’ve spoken to everybody you can humanly think of multiple times, and I’ve taken everybody’s concerns into consideration.” The bias crimes amendment was added to SB 198 on a voice vote Monday, because it was believed SB12 would fail to emerge successfully out of Committee. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statement, “I support and appreciate the action taken by the House today. This measure covers all forms of bias crimes and treats all people equally. Now, we need to make sure we get to the finish line and move Indiana off the list of states without a bias crimes law.” At this point the Senate must either “consent” to the changes made by the House or send it on to a joint House-Senate conference committee to resolve any differences.

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Another subject grabbing headlines this week was an Indianapolis Star story about controversy surrounding unreported flights and campaign contributions from Spectacle Entertainment as they work to gain approval to move two licenses from Lake Michigan to an inland Gary location and to Terre Haute. SB 552 “met little resistance in the Senate, despite opposition from other casinos in the state that fear they will lose market share….But a House committee complicated that path Wednesday by making it more difficult for Spectacle to move its licenses.” The bill now advances to the House Ways & Means Committee, where it could be amended yet again. Governor Holcomb, during a jobs announcement in Terre Haute last week, mentioned the casino move to the area, “I think it is appropriate to have this discussion in the Legislature,” the Governor said. Because there are two casino licenses in Gary, “it does make sense to me that one of those could be split off and moved to another place.” 

This week some bills have successfully moved through each Chamber and now await the Governor’s signature.  The remaining bills upon which agreement is not found will ultimately move on to Conference Committee.  Highlights for bills you are watching include:

  • On Wednesday HB1002, Representative Sullivan’s Career and Technical Education bill, was presented in Senate Education Committee by Senator Raatz (R-Richmond). Senator Leising (R-Oldenburg) proposed an amendment which she stated is, “Exactly the language that was in SB532 regarding teacher licensing, no objections or testimony against it – I just fear it will not get attention in the House if not amended into this bill.”  The bill was amended by Senate Education Committee 6-4 and now has been recommitted to Appropriations due to the fiscal impact.
  • SB233 was presented by Representative Huston (R-Fishers) in Ways and Means Committee. Because the bill increases the Business Personal Property Tax Deduction, Representative Porter (D-Indianapolis) proposed the bill be turned into a summer study committee stating, “We need more information regarding actual revenue lost.  We are suffocating and strangling local government with property tax caps, and we need to study this.” The Amendment was defeated and the bill ultimately passed out of Committee 16-7. 
  • HB1057, the bill which allows for the appointment of an additional magistrate to serve the Vanderburgh circuit and superiors courts, has passed both houses and was signed by the Speaker on Thursday on the way to Governor’s desk.
  • HB1344, the Nurse Licensure Compact bill passed Third Reading on Tuesday 46-2. The bill returns to the House with amendments. It is anticipated that the House will “consent” on those amendments and send the bill to the Governor.
  • HB 1613, which removes the state imposed restrictions on land owned by the University of Evansville, passed the Senate on Monday and is headed to the Governor for his consideration.
  • I have removed SB 12, bias crimes, from your bill report since the only bias crimes language that will be moving forward is now in SB 198.

More attention will continue to turn to the Governor’s Bill Watch page to monitor when bills reach his desk and deadlines for his action.

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Important Dates:

  • Monday, April 1st
    • Senate Environmental Affairs Committee
      • HB 1278 Various Environmental Matters (Wolkins)
  • Tuesday, April 2nd
    • Senate Homeland Security & Transportation
      • HB 1374 Performance & Payment Bonds (Lehman)
      • HB 1462 Dealer Services (Sullivan)
  • Wednesday, April 3rd
    • Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy
      • HB 1034 Political Subdivision Controlled Projects & Debt (Thompson)
      • HB 1052 Local Income Tax & Other Financing Matters (Thompson)
      • HB 1427 Local Government Matters (Leonard)
    • House Education
      • SB420 Workforce Development (Raatz)
    • House Utilities, Energy & Telecommunications
      • SB 460 Broadband Development (Messmer)
  • Thursday, April 4th
    • Senate Appropriations
      • HB 1002 Career & Technical Education (Sullivan)
      • HB 1010 Property Tax & Income Tax Deductions (Cherry)
      • HB 1444 Taxation of Electronic Cigarettes (Brown)
  • Tuesday, April 9th – Deadline for Senate Bills to pass out of House Committees
  • Thursday, April 11th – Deadline for House Bills to pass out of Senate Committees  
  • Monday, April 15th – Deadline for Senate Bills to pass the House
  • Tuesday, April 16th – Deadline for House Bills to pass the Senate 
  • Monday, April 29th – 2019 Session must adjourn. 

** Committee Hearings can be called with just a one-day notice, so schedules change very quickly