The second half of the Indiana General Assembly is underway. Only 27% of House and 33% of Senate bills filed survived the first half of the legislative session. It has been a slow reset this week, with committee chairs and members reviewing bills passed by the other house (“house of origin”). The bills go through the same process again: a Committee Hearing/vote, then a 2nd Reading on the House /Senate floor where any member can propose amendments; and then a 3rd Reading on the House/Senate floor where the members vote Yes or No on passage of the bill.
If the bill is not amended during this process, the bill moves immediately to the Governor’s office for his consideration. If the bill is amended, the author of the bill will file either a Motion to Concur or Dissent with the amendment(s). The Motion to Concur must be voted on by all the members of the house of origin. A Motion to Dissent triggers the creation of a Conference Committee made up of two Senators and two House members to work through the differences in the bill and create a final Conference Committee Report, which must be voted on by both the full House and Senate.
One bit of news came from the presentation from the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) and their work to promote Indiana as a place to visit or live. There are toolkits designed for communities, businesses, and higher education institutions that can be incorporated into your existing messages, social media, etc. to promote Indiana. See more and download the toolkits at: Campaign Kits | Visit Indiana | IN Indiana | IDDC.
A slow week in the Statehouse has us reflecting on history and we join others remembering “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, when Alabama Highway Patrol troopers, wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas, attacked civil rights demonstrators marching from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery to protest efforts to obstruct African Americans from registering to vote. The bloody scene was captured on film and televised, enraging Americans across the country. In response to what some call the turning point in the civil rights movement, on March 15, President Lyndon Johnson held a nationally televised joint session of Congress, calling on lawmakers to pass a voting rights bill that would ensure all Americans the right to vote, “What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessing of American life. There is no Negro problem. There is no southern problem. There is no northern problem. There is only an American problem,” Johnson said, “Their cause must be our cause, too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome,” a sentiment reflected in MLK’s famous “How Long? Not Long!” speech. President Biden joined the march this week, and spoke to the crowd, “The right to vote, to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty,” said Biden, “My message to you is this: We see you. We’re fighting to make sure no one’s left behind. Let’s keep marching. Let’s keep the faith. But most of all, let’s remember who we are. We’re the United States of America, and there’s nothing, nothing, beyond our capacity when we act together.”
Attached please find your updated bill report; bills are listed numerically within High, Medium and Low Priority rankings. And, below, find updates on bills that had action this week and a list of relevant committee hearings scheduled at this time – reminder that these only require a 24ish-hour notice, so the schedule changes frequently.
- The Senate Education Committee heard HB1449 on Wednesday. The bill is identical to SB435, which the Committee supported earlier this Session. Educators, students, and businesses spoke in support of the bill as a way to increase the number of Hoosiers who can take advantage of the 21st Century Scholarship program by automatically enrolling all eligible 7th and 8th graders vs. relying on their parents to enroll them. It is one attempt to encourage more students to pursue higher education and graduate with less debt. The Committee held the bill for their next meeting (as is common practice for them) when they will consider any amendments and vote on it.
- HB1591 is one of several “education matters” bills covering a variety of K-12 education topics and language that will increase the income limits to determine eligibility for On My Way PreK vouchers and make other positive changes to the program. The language is “partner language” to some funding improvements in HB1001, the biennial budget bill. The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on the bill Wednesday with many speakers, including on behalf of E-REP, speaking positively about the PreK language. As is customary for the committee, the bill was held for possible amendments and vote at their next meeting.
- HB1451 is a Department of Workforce Development bill that cleans up several provisions and is expected to reduce overall costs of administering the program. It also allows individuals to keep more earnings when they are working part-time and also earning unemployment insurance benefits. The Senate Pensions & Labor Committee heard the bill on Wednesday and held it for a vote at a later meeting.
- SB176 changes the statutory definition of the rated electric generating capacity of “small modular nuclear reactors” from 350 megawatts (MW) to 470 MW. The original definition of 350 MW was set in 2022 and could be adjusted in the future if/when the federal government creates applicable regulations. Officials from Rolls Royce, a manufacturer of the reactors, spoke in support of the change noting the increase in competition it will create among the supplier base. The House Utilities Committee made a minor technical amendment to the bill on Tuesday before passing it 9-3. On Thursday, the bill cleared 2nd reading in the House and will be eligible for final House vote as early as Monday.
- HB 1007 will codify what House Utility Chair Ed Soliday refers to as the “Five Pillars” (reliability, affordability, resilience, stability and environmental sustainability). This bill is part of the work product from the four-year 21st Century Taskforce studying energy and provides for the IURC to conduct a study on Performance Based Ratemaking with a report due back to the general assembly by 2025. The bill passed the Senate Utilities Committee 9 – 0 on Thursday and moves to the full Senate.
- Several students from across the state joined educators and business leaders to speak to the Senate Education committee in support of HB1382, which will encourage a public-private partnerships to support robotics programs in K-12 schools. The bill’s ultimate goal is to increase the number of students pursuing STEM fields after HS graduation. The Committee held the bill for a future meeting as is their usual practice.
- Tuesday, March 14
- E-REP Day at the Statehouse, Indianapolis
- Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee, 9:30 a.m.
- HB1106 Mine Reclamation Tax Credit (Lindauer)
- Senate Veterans Affairs & the Military
- HB1266 Cyber Civilian Corps Program Advisory Board (Judy)
- Wednesday, March 15
- Senate Pensions & Labor, 10:00 a.m.
- HB1451 Unemployment Compensation (Carbaugh)
- House Ways & Means, 1:30 p.m.
- SB419 State Tax Matters (Holdman)
- Senate Pensions & Labor, 10:00 a.m.
- Thursday, March 16
- HB1179 Professional Licensing (Clere)
*Committee hearings only require a 24(ish) hour notice, so this schedule is updated frequently and is therefore not comprehensive of all the activity we anticipate next week.