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Indiana Legislative Update – A Warm and Fuzzy Start (Maybe the Calm Before the Storm?)

The General Assembly, primarily tasked with crafting a two-year state budget, returned to work this week with time spent introducing bills, a few Constitutionally-required speeches, and some niceties.

As we get underway on the new session, we want to share some exciting news about an expanded Rideout Public Affairs (RPA) team serving you. Please see the attached announcement and join me in welcoming Patrick Bennett and Kristi Ormsby (returning) to RPA. 

The Indiana Senate opened with a bipartisan effort from Democrat David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) and Republican Ryan Mishler (R-Mishawaka) offering  a resolution honoring the late Governor Joe Kernan with a bust in the Indiana Statehouse to memorialize and celebrate his service. Governor Kernan was remembered for his military service, appointing the first female lieutenant governor in Indiana and his support of full-day kindergarten.

In the House, Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Ft Wayne) exclaimed that House Democrats are excited about Governor Holcomb’s goals for the upcoming budget session. “All Hoosiers want the same thing,” said GiaQuinta, praising the Governor’s plans to address the state’s low rankings in health and education. Republican Floor Leader Matt Lehman (R-Berne) followed GiaQuinta with a plea to his fellow lawmakers for a fresh start in the wake of the controversial special session last summer, “I do believe we need to passionately debate the issues. We will disagree with each other, but we must not be disagreeable. We will challenge each other, but we must not be challenging.” Lehman concluded his comments with, “Let’s get to work!” 

On Tuesday night, amidst warm applause and glad-handing between the Governor and both sides of the aisle in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, Eric Holcomb began his seventh State of the State address thanking several leaders such as Lt Governor Suzanne Crouch, who he referred to as “my partner.” While the address didn’t venture far from his budget plans we outlined Monday, he offered  commentary to inspire action and build confidence. “My fellow Hoosiers – it is my honor and privilege to report to you once again on the state of our beloved state, and to share what I believe we as Hoosiers can do to make Indiana an even better place to live, work and build a future.”

Holcomb, serving out the final years of his years term-limited stint as Governor, assured Hoosiers of his intention to finish strong, “Please understand one thing up front: I intend to work even harder over the next two years than I have at any other time…a ticking clock only increases the sense of urgency.”  And with that, the Governor laid out his “big goals” and plans to achieve them: secure Indiana’s place in the future, transform public health access across the state, and make an “unprecedented” investment in Indiana classrooms.

The Constitution also requires an annual State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature that was delivered on Wednesday. More details about that address are here.

There are many more bills yet to be filed by Legislators and we won’t likely see all of them until sometime next week. Your first bill report is attached. As always, let us know if you hear of other bills you want us to watch or if you see bills listed you aren’t interested in tracking. We’re starting to see some Committee hearings scheduled, which is the first step on the long process toward a bill’s passage. These hearings only require a 24-hour notice, so the schedule is constantly changing. Legislators will take Monday off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and be back to work early Tuesday.

Important Dates:

Monday, January 16: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – statehouse holiday

Tuesday, January 17:

House Government & Regulatory Reform Committee, 10:30 a.m.

HB1200 Government Reform Task Force (Bartels)

Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee, 10:30 a.m.

SB37 Food & Beverage Taxes (Gaskill)

SB46 County Option Circuit Breaker Tax Credit (Sandlin)

Wednesday, January 18:

Senate Pensions & Labor, 10:00 a.m.

SB292 INPRS Investments (Holdman)

House Education, 10:30 a.m.

HB1002 Education & Workforce Matters (Goodrich)

House Environmental Affairs, 1:30 p.m.

HB1072 Aviation Fuel Inspection Fees (Morrison)

Ways & Means Committee, 1:30 p.m.

HB1290 Earned Income Tax Credit (Goodrich)

Senate Education, 1:30 p.m.

SB305 IN Education Scholarship Account Program (Buchanan)

Senate Judiciary, 1:30 p.m.

SB303 Privacy Protections for Nonprofit Organizations

Thursday, January 19:

Senate Utilities, 8:30 a.m.

SB33 Solar Panel Decommissioning & Disposal Study (Walker, G)

Senate Appropriations, 10:00 a.m.

SB271 Certified Technology Parks (Buchanan)