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Indiana Legislative Update – All Eyes on Indy as Legislators Return

Indiana legislators return to work in Indianapolis later today to begin work scheduled for a “Special Legislative Session” called by Governor Holcomb. The 40-day session officially began on July 6th, meaning legislators must complete any work by August 15th.  The Governor’s proclamation called members to action “to consider and address the current adverse economic conditions…and any appropriate relief that would benefit and protect our State and its people.” As has been widely reported, legislators also intend to address the issue of abortion since the Supreme Court “Dobbs” ruling was announced.  

Besides the high-profile nature of the issues being considered, this session could prove interesting for a variety of reasons. Veteran statehouse reporter Niki Kelly of the new, not-for-profit media outlet, Capital Chronicle, pointed out that at least 17 of the 150 members voting during this special session will not be in office after Election Day, meaning they will face no accountability for any of their votes (or even non-attendance) over the next few weeks. Legislative leadership will need to walk a fine line to find a balance of language that will ensure a quorum of members in attendance along with enough votes to pass proposed bills. (If you like to stay up-to-date on statehouse activities, consider signing up for the FREE daily update from the Chronicle)

None of the legislation being considered this special session falls under our legislative priorities, so we have not weighed in on any of the bills. Fiscal affairs, though, are always of interest, so we’ll start our update with the work the session was originally called for – returning approximately $1 Billion of the State’s surplus to taxpayers. Holcomb’s plan would give every Hoosier tax filer a $225 rebate (in addition to the $125 approved during the regular session in March). House Republicans will consider legislation Tuesday in Ways & Means Committee that would do this plus ensure that any Hoosier who does not need to file a tax return this year can also receive the $225. The Senate GOP plan would instead pay more into the Pension Relief Fund, cap fuel taxes for a year, and suspend the 7% sales tax on residential utility bills (electric, gas, water, phone, internet) for six months. This is SB3 being heard in committee Tuesday afternoon.  

Legislators are also looking at ways to provide additional funding that would increase support to women and children. The Senate proposal (SB2, also in committee Tuesday afternoon) would spend an additional $50M for increased access to birth control measures; support for pregnancy crisis centers; expanded pre-natal services and post-natal care; lowering Indiana’s infant mortality rate; improving child care and child development programs; increasing adoption tax credits; and support for foster care programs. The House proposal (part of the tax rebate bill planned for committee Tuesday morning) includes more than $20M in tax exemptions and another $58M to boost programs that help mothers in crisis; increase availability and affordability of childcare; support programs focused on healthy babies and families; and encourage more people to consider adoption.  

Last, but not least in our update is SB1, the Senate proposal that would restrict abortion to only cases of rape, incest, and instances impacting the life of the mother. This bill has drawn criticism from those on both sides of the debate as either not going far enough to eliminate or reduce abortions or going too far to restrict the rights of women. As the only legislature in session actively considering post-Dobbs legislation, there will be an abundance of national attention on our state throughout the Session, including a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris today.  

Special Session schedule as we know it (all times Eastern):

  • Monday, July 25th
    • 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.: Rules & Legislative Procedure Committee meets to hear testimony on SB1 (Abortion) – Watch Live
  • Tuesday, July 26th
    • 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon: Rules & Legislative Procedure Committee meets to hear more testimony on SB1 – Watch Live
    • 11:00 a.m.: Ways & Means Committee meets to consider Tax Rebate & Family & Children Matters Legislation – Watch Live
    • 2:00 p.m.: Senate Appropriations Committee meets to hear SB2 and SB3 – Watch Live
  • Wednesday, July 27th
  • Thursday, July 28th
  • Friday, July 29th
  • Monday, August 1st
    • Special Session will continue; we do not yet know the schedule for that week yet