Indiana Legislative Update The Pace Quickens

As Indiana lawmakers prepared to enter the final 30 days of the 2019 session, momentum increased this week as more bills were heard in committee and bills reached second and third readings in their respective chambers. Lawmakers were busy this week monitoring the progress of their bills at the Statehouse, with a variety of issues competing for their attention, including gaming, bias crimes, the new deal to keep the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, as well as a complaint filed against Attorney General Curtis Hill by the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission for behavior that took place on the final night of last year’s legislative session.

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You will see on your bill report that a few of your bills have now passed the 2nd house (SB 4, SB 191, HB 1057, etc.). Once a bill passes both houses there are a few things that can happen, somewhat influenced by whether the bill was amended in the 2nd house. We’ll look next week about what happens with a bill that has been amended. For bills that are not amended in the 2nd house, after the 3rd reading vote in the 2nd house, there are a few procedural steps the bill must take before finally being sent to the Governor for his decision. Once it officially reaches his desk, he has seven days to act or the bill becomes law without his signature. You can check the Governor’s Bill Watch page to monitor the timing of those bills.

Other highlights from your report this week include:

  • On Wednesday afternoon the House Public Policy Committee heard testimony regarding SB552, with 42 coming to testify at the well-attended hearing.  Former State Representative Charlie Brown, who hails from the City of Gary called for sister bill SB66 to get a hearing, “Some people are saying, well, Gary had its chances and didn’t really do anything with it. But we always have had some external forces that are not in favor of Gary’s success.”  Brown was asked by Representative Austin (D-Anderson) if moving the Gary casino licenses would have a negative impact on other operators, to which he replied, “It will do just the opposite of that. There is a 99% chance there will be an increase in revenue that will go to the locals and the State.”  The hearing went on for over 4 hours, with one witness asking how long he would be permitted to speak, to which Chairman Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn), responded, “People are going to get hungry, and it will not be me that they are mad at,” to which the he responded, “You are absolutely right, Mr. Chairman, so with that in mind, I will do exactly as Elizabeth Taylor did with her last 6 husbands, I will not keep you long.”
  • Senator Becker presented HB1057 for 3rd Reading and the bill was voted out 48-0.  Though he supported the bill, Senator Taylor (D-Indianapolis) took the opportunity to encourage more diversity on the bench by saying: “I come in support of this legislation. I actually serve on the judicial nomination commission on courts – and I keep reemphasizing this . It is important that we understand that Vanderburgh County is void of any – zero – minority legislation on the bench. While I support these measures, one way to get judges on the bench of color, is to appoint them first as magistrates first. The point is I hope we understand that it is important to have a diverse bench – more equitable charges and sentencing.  I will encourage you all to work hard – and purposefully look for a magistrate of color – and support this in an effort to help Vanderburgh County and the State of Indiana.” 
  • On Tuesday HB1487, was heard on final reading with Senator Koch (R-Bedford) telling the Senate, “this is an update bill for the business services division of the Office of the Secretary of State. It contains technical corrections and clarification of the statutory language located in Titles 4, 8, 23, 24, 26, 33, and 34, related to the office of notary public, use of electronic information and transmission, UCC forms, public access to information that is maintained by the Secretary of State’s office, and nonresident corporate service of process on the Secretary of State.” The bill passed 48-0.
  • HB1594, the Indiana Finance Authority Matters bill authored by Representative Todd Huston ( R-Fishers), emerged successfully from Senate Appropriations on Thursday with 10 yeas, 0 nays.  The bill requires state budget committee review of any proposed extension or amendment to a public-private agreement to which the Indiana finance authority or the state is a party, if the proposed amendment or extension to the public-private agreement is entered into after May 1, 2019, and the proposed amendment or extension has a fiscal impact. 
  • HB1344, the Nurse Licensure Compact bill which will have a significant impact on our region as our health systems cross the state line by allowing nurses to choose to also practice in other Compact states was heard on Wednesday in Senate Health and Provider Services. An amendment was offered on Wednesday to impose a $25 fee to applicants in order to offset any fiscal impact. The bill emerged successfully out of Committee Yeas 10, Nays 0 and will go to the Senate floor for final vote.   
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Important Dates:

  • Tuesday, March 26th
    • Senate Homeland Security and Transportation
      • HB1482 Dealer Services (Sullivan)
  • Wednesday, March 27th
    • House Education
      • SB420 Workforce Development (Raatz)
    • Senate Pensions & Labor
      • HB 1341 Occupational Safety & Health (Carbaugh)
  • Thursday, March 28th
    • Senate Appropriations
      • HB 1444 Taxation of Electronic Cigarettes (Brown)
  • 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