Indiana Legislative Update – Record Breaking Cold Doesn’t Slow Down the Legislature

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This week Mother Nature brought historic winter weather to the region with widespread closings from the bitter wind chills. In spite of falling temperatures, Indiana lawmakers remained hard at work during the deep freeze with focus on Committee hearings and many bills making it through second and third reading this 5th week of session. Some have now reached the midway point making the journey from one house to the next.

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Some highlights from your bill report: 

  • Rep. Sullivan’s HB 1002, reforming and updating workforce development programs passed third reading in the House this week 99-0. You can see Inside Indiana’s take on the bill here.  It will now likely sit for several weeks before it gets a Committee hearing in the Senate and goes through the process in the Senate where it will likely be changed a bit more. This is the Governor’s workforce bill, too.
  • The House Nurse Licensure Compact bill, HB 1344, passed the House 96-0.  The Senate version of the bill, SB 436, is awaiting hearing in the Committee on Appropriations.  
  • In the infrastructure area, SB 4 establishing a task force to study and address storm water management issues passed the Senate 48-0 and will now move to the House for consideration.
  • Two bills we’re watching in support of the Downtown Development District, SB 191 (updates the historic preservation and rehabilitation grant program) and SB 255 (updates to arts and cultural districts) both took steps forward in the legislative process this week  
  • The bill to remove restrictions from the University of Evansville land, SB 479, has passed 2nd reading and will be up for passage in the Senate on Monday.
  • SB 342 made local and national headlines with the debate over the repeal of Child Labor Laws, In response to the publicity, the bill changed to a request for an interim study committee vs. making any immediate changes to labor laws and regulations. his request Wednesday to seek a special committee to study the topic.
  • In the Environmental Committee on Wednesday, everyone except for the author of HB 1514 spoke in favor of the Bill. The bill is designed to increase IDEM permit fees for the first time since 1994 – the main controversy is over how much the agency actually needs. The Committee heard testimony from nearly every business trade association and ultimately tabled the bill until next week when they will consider amendments and likely vote on an updated bill.   
  • HB 1062, Unemployment Matters, passed out of the House Employment, Labor & Pensions Committee this week on a party-line vote.  It makes various changes to unemployment insurance, including removal of the cap on disbursement for the Special Employment and Training Services Fund, otherwise known as the Penalty and Interest Fund (P&I).
  • Senator Tallian’s SB 496 bill to create a state tax incentivized Voluntary Family Leave program to be offered by employers was heard this week. The greatest concerns are over the proposed structure and questions about who would participate creating concerns about the real fiscal impact.  The bill  is held over another week pending amendments.
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Important Dates:

  • Tuesday, February 5th
    • House Ways & Means
      • HB 1594 Indiana Finance Authority Matters (Huston)
  • Wednesday, February 6th
    • House Education
      • HB 1628 PreKindergarten Programs (Behning)
    • Senate Health & Provider Services
      • SB 33 Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Centers (Merritt)
    • Senate Public Policy
      • SB 552 Gaming Matters (Messmer)
    • Senate Pensions & Labor
      • SB 289 Reporting on Worker Misclassification (Niezgodski)
      • SB 496 Voluntary Family Leave Insurance Program (Tallian)
  • Monday, February 18
    • Senate Family and Children Services
      • SB 111 Substance Abuse Prevention Grant Programs
  • Tuesday, March 12th: SW IN Chamber Day at the Statehouse and IN Chamber of Commerce Chamber Day Dinner

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