After historically frigid weather the week prior, the Groundhog did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring. And, we’re all hoping for an early end to Session. Lawmakers returned to work, and enjoyed a week of steady progress at the statehouse, buckling down to do the work of moving bills out of committee.
Two bills of significance to our business community were in Committee on Wednesday. In the morning, HB 1628, designed to protect and grow the PreKindergarten program that has been a core part of our education portfolio, was heard in House Education Committee. Sally Rideout spoke to the committee to express our community’s support for the program and continued opportunities to ensure more young Hoosiers have the opportunity to participate.
In the afternoon, Senator Messmer’s comprehensive gaming bill, SB 552, was the main attraction, with interested parties from all over the country coming to be heard before the Senate Public Policy Committee. The bill was unanimously advanced by committee members after significant amendments designed to help offset some of the losses anticipated at existing casinos like Tropicana from new casinos that could be created by the bill. The bill will go next to the Senate Appropriations Committee due to the projected fiscal impact before being considered by the full Senate. The bill will be closely watched and will change many times before the end of Session.
Other highlights from the bill report include:
· On Monday Senator Becker’s SB 479, removing the restrictions on the University of Evansville Division Street land, passed easily out of the Senate by a vote of 49 – 0. The bill is now referred to the House. Rep. Hatfield’s companion bill, HB 1613, passed unanimously out of House Ways & Means committee on Thursday.
· A new pilot youth services program to be administered by Ivy Tech established by SB158 passed 10-2 passed Senate Appropriations. The program is intended to assist high school graduates in determining what they would like to do in the next stage of their lives. Individuals enrolled in the 9-month program would be in a rotation across the state, learning various skills at host sites such as a farm, manufacturing facilities, an information technology company, an elementary school, as well as time spent serving the community doing philanthropic projects.
· HB 1596 changes the rules regarding Tax Increment Finance Districts and removes some of the current flexibility for how funds can be used. It passed House Government & Regulatory Reform Committee 8-3 and we will continue to watch it as a concern for having funds available for capital/infrastructure projects.
· 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 passed the Senate with votes of 49-0 and now head to the House for consideration later this Session.
· Monday, February 11, 2019
o House Education
§ HB1628 Prekindergarten Program (Behning)
o Senate Family and Children Services
§ SB111 Substance Prevention Grant Program
o House Ways and Means
§ HB1052 Local Income Tax (Thompson)
§ HB1594 Indiana Finance Authority Matters
· Wednesday, February 13, 2019
o Senate Pensions and Labor
§ SB371 Presumption of Worker Status
** Committee Hearings can be called with just a one-day notice, so schedules change very quickly