Legislators got to work this week on three key areas of legislation: returning a portion of the record-setting budget surplus to taxpayers; investing in programs designed to support children, pregnant women and families, in anticipation of the results from; restricting or eliminating abortion access in Indiana after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this summer. Many legislators are finding that striking a balance on these issues is not as easy as they had hoped.
Earlier today, the House passed HB1001 with a vote of 93-2. The bill addresses both the taxpayer benefits from the surplus and investments in programs to support families. Key aspects of the bill include:
- An additional automatic taxpayer refund for the 2021 taxable year of $225/taxpayer (as requested by Governor Holcomb as he called the legislators into Session). This is in addition to the $125 approved last March (approx. 50% of taxpayers have already received the $125). The bill includes a provision to provide the refund to those who don’t owe and are not required to file a tax return if they submit an affidavit.
- Increases the exemption for dependent children and doubles the exemption in the child’s first year. Also adds an additional exemption for an adopted child.
- Exempts children’s diapers from the sales tax
- Ensures postpartum coverage of services under Medicaid for at least 12 months from the last day of pregnancy and adds coverage for donated breast milk; noninvasive prenatal screening; and costs of labor and delivery to supplies/services provided by Medicaid and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP).
- Requires the FSSA to adopt policies to provide reimbursement for long-acting reversible contraception
- Expands eligibility for entities able to request a grant from the Safety PIN (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) fund to assist individuals seeking contraceptives
In the Senate, hours spent in caucus on Thursday and more hours of floor debate on amendments on the abortion bill (SB1) meant that SB1 did not pass 2nd reading until after midnight on Friday morning and not even hear SB3. This will require them to convene tomorrow (Saturday) to pass SB1 and SB3, their bill addressing the surplus. They did approve SB2 earlier today by a 46-1 vote, which will support children, women, and families through:
- Establishing the Hoosier Families First Fund and appropriating $45M to the new Fund
- Authorizing the State Budget Agency to various state agencies to support:
- The health of pregnant women, postpartum mothers, and infants
- Pregnancy planning, including addressing barriers to long acting reversible contraception
- The needs of families with children less than four years of age who are low income or lack access to resources
- Increasing the number of families served under the Child Care Development Fund
- Indiana’s foster families and adoptive families
- Programming designed to prevent children from entering the Department of Child Services (DCS) system
- Funding for newborn safety devices
- Providers of maternal support services and services to help pregnant women and their families to bring their pregnancy to term
- Increasing the adjusted gross income tax credit for those receiving the federal adoption tax credit
- Requiring the Medicaid policy and planning office to review our surrounding states for spending on prenatal, pregnancy, postnatal, and pediatric wellness services and report on the findings compared to Indiana’s spending before December 31, 2022.
The Senate will convene Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern (watch live here). Passage of SB3 will not likely be difficult, though there will be some debate as some would prefer to do nothing and others would like to see more relief. The Senate has taken a different approach than the House and the Governor. They plan to reduce the surplus and benefit taxpayers by:
- Capping the gasoline use tax at $0.295/gallon through June 30, 2023 and uses IN general fund dollars to “make whole” IN counties, cities, and towns for any lost gas tax revenue
- Suspending the sales tax on utilities (electrical, artificial and natural gas, water, steam, liquified petroleum gas, telecommunication, etc.) for residential customers through for six months
- Appropriating $400M to the pension stabilization fund to reduce the unfunded obligation
Finally, will come a debate and final vote on the controversial SB1 – controversial, because Hoosiers on either end of the abortion spectrum oppose the bill. Right to Life supporters oppose the bill because it doesn’t go far enough and still has exceptions. Those who believe the decision should be between a woman and her doctor oppose the bill because it interjects government into the decision. No one knows for sure right now whether there are enough Republican Senators to pass the bill, which will then have to go to the House for consideration. After amendments added Thursday night, the bill bans most abortions in Indiana except for those that would impact the life of the mother and makes it a Level 5 Felony for a doctor that performs an abortion. The bill does allow abortions for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest up to 12 weeks from fertilization for those under age 16 and for 8 weeks for those over the age 16 and older. The use of the rape/incest reason will require the signing of a notarized affidavit.
Both the House and Senate will meet next week to consider the bill(s) passed by the other legislative house. Here is what we know about the schedule as we know it now (all times Eastern);
- Saturday, July 30th
- 11:00 a.m. Senate convenes – Watch Live
- Monday, August 1st
- 1:30 p.m.: House convenes – Watch Live
- Time TBD: Senate convenes – Watch Live