On Tuesday the controversial, newly minted “bias crimes bill” SB198, received a 34-14 concurrence vote in the Senate. This was the last procedural step before the bill went to the Governor. Governor Eric Holcomb received the brunt of the anger from those opposed to the bill, Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), who called SB198 a “transphobic bill” addressed the Governor directly during her speech on the Senate floor, “I say SHAME ON YOU, Governor Holcomb. One day he is in support of a list. One day he is not. I am here to implore Governor Holcomb to stop leading from behind. Stop flip flopping based on headlines. Show the leadership that a governor should show.”
Other lawmakers railed against the legislative process itself, with Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) saying “I am not going to talk about the language of this bill. I really want to talk about the way it arrived here. The bias crimes bills started here. It was amended. Heard. It was debated. Amended. Debated again. Regular stuff. Some people didn’t like the way it turned out. But at least we went thru the process. What happened in the House was obnoxious, cowardly, and a misuse of the system. It was slipped in a second hearing amendment like a thief in the night. Vote right now. Don’t even have a roll call. Dodge. Shadow dance. I blame the House leadership for this. This was a total shirking of leadership and it was totally disrespectful of the whole legislative process and that is reason enough to not support this bill.”
The biased crimes bill was signed by the Indiana Governor 51 years after Robert F. Kennedy announced the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr in Indianapolis. RFK quoted his favorite poet, Aeschylus, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God,” and called for an effort to understand and go beyond these difficult times.
Now the focus turns to the biennial budget, the comprehensive gaming bill, economic development incentives, and the other significant bills that will be negotiated over the next three weeks. And, in the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on the Governor’s Bill Watch page to monitor when bills reach his desk and deadlines for his action.
At this point in the process, you may see that a bill has been returned to the House/Senate with amendments. At this point, the author of the bill chooses to file a Motion to Consent or a Motion to Dissent on the amendments. A Motion to Consent must be voted on by either the full House or Senate (wherever the bill originated). If a Motion to Dissent is filed, that sets off a series of actions to establish and work through a Conference Committee:
- House Speaker Bosma will appoint a Republican and a Democrat to serve on the Committee as Conferees. The Speaker can also appoint Advisors to the Committee.
- Senate President Pro Tem Bray will appoint a Republican and a Democrat to serve as Conferees. He can also name Advisors.
- A Conference Committee hearing will be conducted (requires 2 hours of advance notice) where they will discuss the changes made in the 2nd house and each member may express their views on what they would like to see in the final version of the bill. The Committee may also hear from supporters/opponents of the bill and/or specific amendments.
- After the formal hearing, the Committee “recesses” and will begin negotiations, most of which will occur in private, until there is an agreed-upon final version of the bill, which becomes the Conference Committee Report (CCR)
- The four Conferees sign the CCR
- Occasionally, members of the minority party may refuse to sign the CCR. The Speaker and/or the President Pro Tem can remove them from the Committee and name replacement conferees to move the process forward. This often happens with the Budget and other more partisan bills.
- The CCR is then presented before both the House Rules Committee and Senate Rules Committee. These hearings require 1 hour advance notice, though that rule often gets “suspended.” Each Committee must approve the CCR with a majority vote.
- The CCR then goes before both the House and the Senate for a final vote.
- Upon a majority vote of both Houses, the bill goes to the Governor for his consideration
Finally a few highlights from your bill report:
- SB171 was presented by Representative Huston on the House floor, “This bills repeals certain tax incentives – 6 to be exact – that are rarely used or not used in the last 5 years. Ways and Means added a couple amendments from county auditors – dealt with manufactured homes, TIF notification requirements and property tax deductions, addresses number of training hours required for Clerk/treasurer, and mandates 2 studies.” The bill passed 3rd reading unanimously Yeas, 93; Nays 0 and is returned to the Senate for either a Consent or Dissent motion.
- On Wednesday HB1002, Representative Sullivan’s R-Evansville Career and Technical Education bill, received a hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Perfect reported there were “no new appropriations in this bill. It simply shifts revenue from other programs.” Lawmakers complained, “We spend $2 billion in State money, and $400 million in federal dollars, and yet every year we have somebody come in here and want to add another program. There are already 54 programs. You are proposing a dizzying number of changes,” said Senator Tallian. Senator Perfect responded that he is a “results oriented guy, and we have to move faster. Instead of looking backward to see what worked, we have to move faster.” Senator Melton responded, “You say you are a results oriented guy. Well, I am a constituent oriented legislator, and I can’t say this is in the best interest of constituents.” The bill passed 9-4 and goes to the Senate floor for consideration.
- This week SB233, the business personal property tax bill which increases, from $20,000 to $40,000, the acquisition cost threshold for the business personal property tax exemption, was presented to the House by Representative Speedy who called it a “taxpayer and business friendly bill.” However, Representative Porter argued that SB233 is a “slippery bill, ladies and gentlemen. It’s good for small business, but bad for the counties.” Speedy responded that the bill was a “measured approach to dialing back the burden small business has. I represent taxpayers first and I think this is a good bill to represent them on.” The bill passed Third Reading Yeas, 79; Nays 15
- HB1057, the bill which directs the judge of the Vanderburgh circuit court to appoint an additional magistrate to serve the Vanderburgh circuit and superiors courts, signed by the Speaker last week, was signed by the President Pro Tempore on Tuesday – these are both steps along the way to the Governor’s desk.
- Monday, April 8th
- SB420 Workforce Development
- House Education
- Tuesday, April 9th
Ways and Means
- SB552 Gaming
- SB460 Broadband Development
- Deadline for Senate Bills to pass out of House Committees
- House Ways and Means
- 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