Indiana Legislative Update – It’s Summertime & the Livin’ is Easy (Porgy & Bess)

That saying might be true if you’re an Indiana legislator with the COVID-restricted and sometimes difficult legislative session behind you, monthly state revenues that keep beating forecast, and with the a fall special session focused on redistricting as the biggest, scariest thing on the horizon.

While yesterday marked the end of a “rocky” fiscal biennium, it is expected that June 2021 revenue will bring the two-year revenue totals for Indiana in line with what was forecast for the period prior to the start of the pandemic. That seems incredible compared to what we were expecting a year ago. The legislature used Indiana’s strong general fund and the inflow of federal COVID relief funds to set significant one-time investments into existing programs rather than new operating expenses – some highlights include:

Today also marks the day that many of the laws passed during the session go into effect.

Looking ahead to the rest of summer and fall, legislative leadership has announced who will serve on what Interim Study Committees. These committees generally start meeting in August and wrap-up their work by the end of October. Issues set to be studied and legislative membership of interest to E-REP business and economic development partners include:

  • Among several other topics, the Interim Study Committee on Education will study “K-12 racial achievement gaps and how to ‘encourage’ districts to use more transparent data and hold school boards accountable for results.”
  • The Interim Study Committee on Employment and Labor will review “unemployment programs for GIG economy workers and independent contractors.” Evansville State Rep. Ryan Hatfield will serve on this Committee.
  • The Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications is charged with a “multi-year study concerning implementation and use by electric utilities of the law permitting the securitization of costs for retired electric utility assets (described in SEA 386)” and reviewing the “latest annual report concerning the award of broadband grants for rural areas and annual review of the results of an audit of the grants.” Evansville State Rep. Hatfield will also serve on this Committee.
  • Topics in front of the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy include: “a multi-year review of tax incentives reports from the Legislative Services Agency;” “a multi-year review of workforce related programs;” “how the higher educational operating funding mechanism should be structured and funded, which goals should be obtained from the funding mechanism, and how the achievement of the goals will be measured…;” and “affordable housing, workforce housing, and ‘missing middle’ housing.”
  • “Restrictions on allowing out-of-state licensees to practice an occupation in Indiana” will be considered by the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy. Senator Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) & Rep. Matt Hostettler (R-Patoka) have been appointed to serve on this Committee.
  • The Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation will consider “allocation methodologies for Community Crossings Grants from the Local Road and Bridge Matching Grant Fund and program results to date.”
  • The 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force will continue for another two years studying issues assigned in HEA 1220. Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) will serve on this Task Force.
  • The Task Force for Wastewater Infrastructure Investments and Services to Underserved Areas will review “improvements in and financial options for wastewater management systems in underserved areas.” (from SEA 348)

In addition to any notes above about committee participation, our local legislators have been named to these duties:

  • State Senator Vaneta Becker: All Payer Claims Data Base Advisory Board; Interim Study Committee on Government; Infants & Toddlers with Disabilities Interagency Coordinating Council; Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations; Nonemergency Medical Transportation Commission; Protection & Advocacy Services Commission; Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services; Commission on the Social Status of Black Males; and the Indiana Commission for Women.
  • State Senator Mark Messmer: Compliance Advisory Panel; Environmental Adjudication Director Selection Panel; Chair, Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs; and the Legislative Council
  • State Senator Jim Tomes: Interim Study Committee on Corrections & Criminal Code; Interim Study Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs; and the Veterans Affairs Commission
  • State Representative Ryan Hatfield: Indiana Uniform Law Commission; Interim Study Committee on Courts & the Judiciary; and the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services
  • State Representative Cindy Ledbetter: Low Barrier Homeless Shelter Task Force
  • State Representative Wendy McNamara: Board of Trustees of the Criminal Justice Institute; Chair, Interim Study Committee on Corrections & Criminal Code; and the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council
  • State Representative Tim O’Brien: Transborder Water Resources Authority