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Indiana Legislative Update

Legislators Make Historic Votes as Special Session Comes to an End

At approximately 10:00 p.m. Eastern time Friday, August 8, the 2022 Special Legislative Session wrapped up – 31 days after the official start date (July 6) and 10 days before it had to end (August 14). You may remember that Governor Holcomb called legislators back to work “to consider and address the current adverse economic conditions…and any appropriate relief that would benefit and protect our State and its people.” Soon after, the Supreme Court ruling re: abortion made it clear that would also be a hot topic.

Legislators ultimately approved two bills. SB2 is an “inflation relief” package designed to return some of the State’s massive surplus to taxpayers while also providing additional funding for programs that support pregnant women and families. SB1 bans most abortions in Indiana with a few exceptions. The IN House convened this morning and voted first to approve SB2 (93-7), and then after 4+ hours of debate voted to approve SB1 (62-38). After they adjourned their work, the Senate convened at 6:30 p.m. to consider motions to Concur with the amendments made in the House on each bill. Again, first considering and approving SB2 by 37-9 and then debating SB1 for 3+ hours before approving the motion to concur 28-19. Both bills will now head to Governor Holcomb for his consideration. More details about both bills below.

In addition to the legislative action this week, the Governor’s Public Health Commission established in August 2021 submitted their final report and recommendations to improve public health. Recommendations in the 100+-page report covered Indiana’s public health governance, infrastructure, workforce, data, emergency preparedness, child health, and ultimately called for a significant boost in funding. Currently, Indiana ranks 48th in the nation for public health funding at ~$55/Hoosier – more than $35 less than the nationwide average of $91/person. Closing that gap would mean an additional $243 million each year to provide local health departments with “stable, recurring and accessible” funding.

For more on the two bills passed during this Special Session, read on for details.

SB2, Fiscal Matters:

  • The bill approved today and headed to the Governor for his signature will spend $1B of state surplus to provide $200 checks to Hoosier taxpayers and allows for Hoosiers who don’t file a tax return to do so for the specific purpose of receiving the $200 check. In addition to the tax rebate, the bill dedicates $1B of the surplus to pay down the state’s pension obligations; incorporates the Senate plan to cap the IN sales tax on gas at 29.5 cents/gallon until July 1, 2023 (recent drops in the gas price put the current tax below the cap); and spends ~$75M on a range of prenatal and postnatal services aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality, including: exempting children’s diapers from the state sales tax; increasing the adoption tax credit to $2500/child; money for child care vouchers, nurse family partnerships, and crisis pregnancy centers.
  • The provisions were originally part of three bills – SB2 (passed and headed to the Governor), SB3, and also HB1001. After the Senate passed SB3 last week, the House Ways & Means Committee this Tuesday did not consider SB3 and instead incorporated what was in HB1001 into SB2. And similarly, HB1001, after approval by the House last week was amended in Senate Tax & Fiscal this past Wednesday to match the provisions they had previously passed in SB2 and SB3.
  • We started yesterday (Thursday) morning, anticipating the House to convene at 9:00 a.m. to consider amendments to SB2 and SB1 and the Senate to convene later in the day (1:30 p.m.) to consider amendments to HB1001.  Mid-morning, it was announced that the Senate would not convene on Thursday and would instead postpone their session until Friday. This signaled that HB1001 would die and the Senate would wait for the House to pass SB1 and SB2 on Friday morning then convene to consider Motions to Concur with the amendments made to each bill in the House.
  • It seemed that by the end of Thursday, that a deal had been reached by House and Senate leadership on the financial package so that Senate approval of the House version would easily pass. The fate of the abortion bill was a little less clear, though it seemed likely that most Republicans would vote for the bill that would dramatically reduce abortions, even though some would prefer a complete ban on any abortion, even those designed to protect the life of the mother.
  • All SW IN Senators and Representatives voted in favor of SB2.

SB1, Abortion:

  • The bill approved today and headed to the Governor for his signature bans all abortions in Indiana with limited exceptions for: preventing serious health risk the death of the mother; cases of lethal fetal anomalies up to 20 weeks; cases from rape or incest up to 10 weeks. The bill also provides abortions can only be performed in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers owned by hospitals; explicitly says it does not affect in vitro fertilizations; can revoke the license of doctors who perform an unlawful abortion; keeps the current criminal penalties imposed on a doctor who performs unlawful abortion (level 5 felony); requires the state maternal mortality review committee to study the impact of the abortion ban on maternal mortality; and creates a legislative task force to study the issue of local prosecutors who make a “blanket refusal” to prosecute certain laws. The bill does NOT impose criminal penalties on a pregnant person who seeks or obtains an unlawful abortion nor require a pregnant minor who is pregnant by a parent or guardian to get parental consent for their abortion.
  • A look back at the last two weeks of activity that led to the final bill’s passage:
    • 61 people provided public comment over 6.5 hours last Monday and Tuesday in Senate Rules Committee re: SB1
    • 24 amendments were filed by Committee members; 5 amendments were considered and 3 were approved
    • The bill passed out of Committee 7-5 with Jasper Republican Mark Messmer joining the Democrats to vote against the bill, though for different reasons – he did not believe the bill went far enough to end abortions
    • Last Thursday, when the Senate convened, there were 62 amendments filed for consideration by the full Senate. Of those, 33 were “called” by the amendment author for debate on the floor and ultimately 4 of those amendments passed. Because debate lasted until 12:15 a.m. on Friday morning, the bill could not be considered for 3rd and final reading/vote until Saturday
    • Saturday, the Senate passed the bill 26-20 with 4 members absent. SW IN Senators all voted against the bill, though  for different reasons. Some because they oppose the exceptions allowed (so it would still allow for some abortions) and others because they support abortion rights and want to keep the decision out of government’s hands.
    • This past Tuesday, the House began their formal deliberation of the bill with a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee chaired by Evansville Republican Wendy McNamara (also the House sponsor of the bill). Over an 8-hour committee hearing, 111 people gave public comments about the bill.
    • 9 amendments were filed by committee members with members approving 1 of the 8 amendments considered
    • When the full House convened Thursday to consider amendments, members had filed 86 amendments, though only called down 23 for consideration. Of those 23, only 2 were adopted. Most votes defeating amendments weren’t close; the only one that would have allowed for contraception to be provided by pharmacists without a prescription – an action many view as a safe, effective measure to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and has been adopted by several other states – failed 48 yes to 49 no.
  • Finally, today (Friday), the House considered the amended bill with many members going to the microphone to share their support or concerns for the bill over nearly 5 hours of debate. Ultimately, the bill passed 62-38 with all Democrats voting against the bill and 9 Republicans joining them to oppose the bill – 6 of those, because the bill was too strict; 3 because it had too many exceptions. Locally, Representatives McNamara, O’Brien, and Bartels voted for SB1; Representatives Hatfield and Ledbetter voted against it because it was too strict; and Representative Hostettler voted against it because it had too many exceptions.
  • This evening the Senate spent more than 3 hours debating the motion to concur on SB1 before the motion passed 28-19. Nine Republican Senators joined all of the Democrats in opposing the bill; several because it was too strict; several because it did not go far enough. Locally, Senator Becker voted against the bill because it was too strict and Senator Tomes voted against it because it had too many exceptions. Senator Messmer was absent from session today.