The 2022 legislative session has come to its close with the House ending work at 12:17 a.m. and the Senate at 12:47 a.m. Eastern time this morning. While the Indiana General Assembly tackled a myriad of issues this session, HB1001 and HB1002 were arguably the most important to Hoosiers. Last Thursday at 7 p.m., just hours after final passage by lawmakers, Governor Holcomb signed HB1001 – the first bill to get his signature this year, though 37 other bills were waiting. The bill was a final step necessary to end the State of Emergency in Indiana; 24 months since the first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed in Indiana on March 6, 2020.
“We have come a long way as a state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have had many significant challenges along the way. With the passing of HB1001 the Governor is able to allow the emergency orders to come to an end and we can move forward as a state. I am grateful for the resilience of Hoosiers whose efforts kept Indiana’s economy moving during this incredibly difficult time. I look forward to the chance to chase new opportunities and tackle other existing challenges for Indiana,” said Senate Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville).
Five days later, the House and Senate passed HB1002 as one of the last bills of Session. The bill started as the House Republicans’ attempt to provide more than $1B in tax cuts to Indiana citizens and businesses. From the beginning, the Senate pushed harder on paying down debts and delaying tax cut considerations until the next budget cycle. The Governor originally expressed support for cuts to the Business Personal Property tax and ultimately endorsing an income tax cut as fiscally feasible, too. In the end, legislators settled on a package that will cut income taxes from the current 3.23% to 3.15% in 2023. Then, to 3.1% in 2025 if revenue grows by 2% in 2024; then 3% in 2027 if revenue grows by 2% AND the pre-1996 teacher pension debt is fully paid off; and finally to 2.9% in 2029 if revenue grows by 2% in 2028. Missing any of the 2-year benchmarks will put the rate drop on hold until the next two-year check-in. In addition to the income tax cut, HB1002 eliminates the Utility Receipts Tax (URT) on July 1st – this 1.4% tax is paid by every energy consumer as part of their utility bills. The bill also ensures that revenue reserves will be directed to paying down the pre-1996 pension liability.
House Republicans lauded the final bill as a success, even though they didn’t achieve all they originally proposed. “The Senate has a belief, and so do we, about being responsible about paying debt. We wanted to get some of the cuts. We were able to get a substantial portion of it,” said House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers). Democrats were critical of the overall plan for not having a more immediate and significant impact. House Democrat Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) thought it was a “big mistake” to not include a gas tax moratorium his caucus had called for, and during floor debate Rep Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) call the plan “small potatoes” expressing disbelief that it took this long to negotiate such a small cut of only .08% in the first phase. “We won’t be proud to say we’re giving 40 bucks,” said DeLaney. “Most people in my neighborhood will take that 40 bucks and say ‘please keep it and fill a pot hole or lower tuition at our universities.” In the end, the Conference Committee Report (CCR) for HB1002 passed the House 82-17 and the Senate 50-0.
Other late-night action of note was the passage of a permit-less carry gun bill that ended up in HB1296 (after starting as HB1077 and briefly being part of SB209) by 68-30 in the House and 30-20 in the Senate. Opponents of the bill claimed, “This bill is not about constitutional rights. It is a false premise to determine who is a conservative and who is not,” said Sen Liz Brown (R-Ft Wayne). Republicans defending the bill found themselves accused of not supporting law enforcement who largely testified in opposition to the bill. Currently 21 states have permit-less carry, with other states moving similar legislation. For example, Ohio just passed a measure that allows those 21 and older to carry a handgun, whereas Indiana’s version allows those 18 and older. House Republicans voting “no” were Reps Mike Aylesworth (R-Hebron), Thomas Saunders (R-Lewisville) and Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville). Senate Republicans voting “no” were Eric Bassler (R-Washington), Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), Liz Brown (R-Ft Wayne), Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), Mike Crider (R-Greenfield), Susan Glick (R-LaGrange), Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg) and Kyle Walker (R-Indianapolis).
And, finally, 100 Republican legislators wrote a letter to Governor Holcomb this week stating “It is the desire of the House and Senate leadership, including the signatures below, for you to call the General Assembly back in for a special session, at the earliest date practicable, should the U.S. Supreme Court ruling expand Indiana’s ability to protect unborn children. Providing a voice for those that have not yet been able to speak for themselves is a responsibility that we do not take lightly, and this is exactly why this request is so important.”
More bills have moved to the Governor unchanged since our last update (a motion to concur with amendments from the 2nd house has passed). You can check the Governor’s office “Bill Watch” page for updates on when bills have arrived at his desk and if/when he takes action to sign or veto them. In addition to the bills we reported last week, here are the others where a Motion to Concur was approved:
- HB1001 Administrative Authority; COVID-19 Immunizations
- HB1153 Worker’s Compensation
- HB1209 Carbon Sequestration Projects
- HB1221 Electric Vehicles and Electricity Pricing
- HB1226 Solid Waste Matters
- HB1306 Housing Task Force
- SB82 FAFSA
- SB145 Property Tax Matters
- SB366 Higher Education Funding
- SB411 Commercial Solar and Wind Energy
Here are the highlights from the last days of Session on other bills (bills are listed as they are in the Report: numerically in order of High, Medium, Low priority):
- The final version of HB1094 in the CCR will establish liability and workers compensation insurance through the DOE for employers using HS students in work-based learning. The CCR also allows staff working in a transformation zone school to organize and bargain separately from the rest of the school corporation. The CCR passed the House 71-23 and the Senate 35-15 (most no votes were due to the bargaining language for transformation zones). HB1094 removes a barrier to Hoosier employers hiring high-school students for apprenticeships and internships.
- SB361 remained a bill supporting the work of the IN Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) throughout the process. Much of the bill was noncontroversial, including the combining of several tax credits (Hoosier Business, EDGE, Film/Production, etc.) into a single bucket of funds to be managed by the IEDC. Another popular provision was taken from SB4 to establish the workforce recruitment and retention program. Throughout Session, though, there was constant negotiation on the IEDC proposal to establish Innovation Development Districts (IDD’s) that will work like a TIF to help IN compete for large projects like the battery plant in KY or the Intel plant in OH. These IDD’s will be established in collaboration with (for projects over $2B) or in agreement with (for projects under $2B) the County or City executive where the IDD will be established and some of the incremental revenue will flow through to the local community and school systems. In the end, legislators were able to work out a compromise that supported the IEDC wishes and protected the role of local government with a CCR that passed the Senate 50-0 and the House 70-22.
- SB382 is the annual update bill from the Dept of Revenue, and includes two pieces of importance to E-REP including a reduction in the tax of “closed cartridge” vaping systems that were set to go into effect this July 1st from 25% to 15% and it includes language previously in SB262 establishing an Affordable Housing Tax Credit as an attempt to encourage the building or more housing stocks. The CCR passed the House 66-31 and the Senate 38-12.
- HB1093 includes changes to the Early Learning Advisory Council, eliminates the “letter grades” for K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year, and limits virtual learning days to 3/year unless the virtual days are at least 50% “synchronous.” The CCR was approved by the House 93-3 and the Senate 45-5.
- The CCR for HB1251 continues the establishment of “adjunct teachers” in K-12 schools and takes language that the House had amended into SB2 (deleted from there due to not being germane) creating micro grants/scholarships to support remediation for K-12 students, esp. Those struggling with ILearn and IRead. The CCR passed the House 70-28 and the Senate 33-17.
- As some parts of SB290 were included in other bills, the final CCR for the bill was narrowed down to include a career coaching pilot for K-12 schools; ask the Dept of Ed to review early graduation dates; and provides some process of protecting school corporations from significant losses in state funding. The CCR was approved by the House 94-0 and the Senate 49-1.
- HB1242 requires the department of administration to determine the technological upgrades and other expenditures required to collect and compile information regarding purchases made by state agencies from minority business enterprises, nonprofit agencies for individuals with disabilities, veteran and women owned small businesses and creates a process for nonprofits previously enrolled in Ability Indiana to exit the program. The final CCR passed the House 94-0 and the Senate 50-0.
- The original HB1245 came out of the wastewater task force to establish that local health departments may not have rules re: sewer and septic tanks that are more stringent than the state rules. The CCR delays the effective date of that to June 30, 2023, to allow state and local health departments to update and adopt rules. The CCR also grandfathers existing sewer/septic projects and ensures equal treatment of all customers to require hookup/connection to the sewer system. The CCR passed the House 70-27 and the Senate 40-10.
- The CCR for SB2 clarifies school headcounts for state funding levels (to ensure schools are kept whole from Fall 2021 counts that may have been impacted by COVID) and requires the IN Dept of Ed to compile information regarding early graduation for HS students to see if there is an opportunity to reward schools for students who graduate early. Scholarships for remediation tutoring added in the House were removed from the bill. The CCR was adopted by the House 94-0 and the Senate 49-1.
- SB5 is a comprehensive reciprocity bill for healthcare workers to expand the workforce available to treat Hoosiers. The final CCR included language from SB36 adding Indiana to the speech language/audiology compact and removed social workers, marriage & family therapists, mental health counselors, addiction counselors, clinical addiction counselors, and respiratory care practitioners from the bill so as not to impact existing reciprocity agreements. The CCR passed the Senate 50-0 and the House 93-1.
- After several items were added to SB356 while it was in the House, the final CCR for the bill takes it back to the original content of the bill establishing an alternative certification program for teachers. Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) spoke in opposition to the bill with concerns that it is a “shallow” certification and undermines teacher preparation programs. Ultimately the CCR was approved 64-30 by the House and 39-11 in the Senate.
- The CCR for SB388 changes the higher education reporting for foreign contributions to $250K to align directly with what the institutions already report to the Federal government, and it clarifies that the prohibition on foreign ownership of land by foreign corporations is for “crop farming.” The language added last week by Rep Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) prohibiting Russian-owned businesses or citizens from holding & conveying real property in Indiana – in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – caused some concern with Senators that it might impact legal residents of Russian decent. The CCR adds language to clarify that the prohibitions only apply to those who are “not a legal resident” of the US. The CCR passed the Senate 49-1 and the House 96-0.
- HB1369 became the most “diverse” bill of the session covering several issues from drug schedules, to car towing, to community corrections, and – just before it died, it became the home for the former SB17 that would have eliminated qualified immunity for librarians and school employees for materials considered harmful to minors. The CCR passed the House 65-32 and in the last action of the night, the Senate defeated the CCR with a 21-29 vote killing the bill.
- The end of the statewide COVID emergency seems to come at the right time as COVID numbers in Indiana have dropped to the lowest levels since July 2021 and if trends continue, the state will drop to a record low of daily cases within 7-10 days.
- Statewide hospitalizations are hovering around 600 and fewer than 100 Hoosiers are in the ICU with COVID – the lowest since mid-July 2021.
- Statewide, 56.7% of Hoosiers aged 5+ are fully vaccinated (2 or more doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J). The 4-county SW IN region has 170,049 (59.5%) of 285,818 residents aged 5+ fully vaccinated. If you want to get vaccinated or boosted, you can make an appointment online.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed and want to get tested, find a test site here: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): COVID-19 Testing Information
- Indiana has had more than 1,685,997 positive cases of COVID-19; 66,54 of these are “reinfections since 9/1/21.”
- All of Indiana is now rated blue (low community spread) or yellow (moderate community spread) – no counties rated orange or red. All of SW IN is rated yellow with Pike and Knox Counties as the nearest counties in blue. (These weekly ratings will be updated later today)
- The 7-day positivity rate as of 3/1 (lags by 7 days to include late-arriving test results) for all test results is 3.7% (down from 6% last Friday). SW IN Positivity rates are: Gibson 9.7%, Posey 5.9%, Vanderburgh 5.2% and Warrick 5.4%.
- The state reported 21 new deaths on Tuesday 3/8. At this time 22,130 Hoosiers have died from COVID – more than the total population of nearby Spencer County. If you include presumptive deaths (clinically diagnosed as COVID by a physician, but no COVID-19 positive test), the total is 23,038.
IMPORTANT DATES (all times Eastern):
- Thursday, April 14: E-REP AM Connect with the Post Session Legislative Wrap Up