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Indiana Legislative Update – Thank Goodness It’s…Wednesday?

Why are we hitting your Inbox midweek? Well, yesterday was the final deadline for bills to pass the 2nd house. We now know our total universe of bills that have passed almost every hurdle – with many of them already on the way to the Governor for his action. 

Now all attention turns to the Conference Committee process where lawmakers negotiate the final language of many bills. Any bills that were not amended in the 2nd half of Session proceed directly to the Governor after a series of procedural signatures from the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tem, and the Lt. Governor. You can continue to keep an eye on the Governor’s Bill Watch page to follow bills of interest as they reach his desk and begin the 7-day clock for his action.  

When bills are amended in the 2nd house, the bill author must file a “Motion to Concur” or a “Motion to Dissent” with the changes that were made. Motions to Concur must be voted on by the house where the bill originated. Motions to Dissent trigger the creation of a Conference Committee – legislators from both parties and from both the House and Senate – to negotiate the details and put the final version of the bill into a Conference Committee Report (CCR) that must be approved by both the House and the Senate. 

Despite a lot of unpredictability between now and the end of session, we still anticipate Session will conclude this Friday, March 8…though we hear some rumblings about the potential that it will extend into Saturday. Assuming either outcome, we anticipate your next report will come on Monday, March 11th. 

Your updated Bill Track is linked below. We may have added a bill or two if language we had previously been tracking for you has been amended into a new bill. Here are highlights from action the past few days on your bills: 

  • HB1001 updates the newly created (in 2023) Career Scholarship Accounts (CSA’s) that support HS students pursuing work-based learning opportunities. As the bill passed the Senate, it creates a 3rd scholarship account (in addition to the O’Bannon & 21st Century) for HS graduates continuing education, but not at a traditional institution; allows ESA’s (established for special needs students) to be given also to their siblings – this is the only real controversial part of the bill – and requires career awareness to be taught by 2030.The bill passed the Senate 38-10 on Tuesday. 
  • HB1093 will ensure state language regarding the employment of minors mirrors federal language. It has raised eyebrows as it allows greater employment for those as young as 14 and confirms that young people from the Amish & Mennonite communities who often stop traditional schooling at 8th grade can begin working. The bill requires the submission of a statement from a parent to an employer verifying the child has been excused from compulsory education in order to be exempt from hourly work restrictions. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 39 to 9, returned to the House where it will be eligible for conference committee.
  • SB2 moves forward several priorities from the Interim Study Committee re: child care. While there is more work to do, the bill does make progres on the 4 priorities set in the Interim: 1) Improving the overall effectiveness of the childcare system while maintaining safety, 2) addressing shortages in the childcare workforce, 3) improving access to care in underserved areas/childcare deserts, 4) providing data for futher improvements. The bill is recognized as a “critical, first step” to making these improvements (without a budget impact) and received strong bipartisan support throughout the process and passed the House 97-1 on Monday. E-REP has been part of the supporting coalition moving the bill forward throughout the Session and have joined with others in encouraging bill author, Sen Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) to file a motion to Concur with the minor changes made in the House.
  • Presenting HB1002, the anti-semitism bill, bill sponsor Sen Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), said, “I was honored when Rep. Jeter originally asked me to carry this bill and I’m disappointed that it’s not everything I want it to be.” He expressed frustration at the process that tests his “patience and intestinal fortitude” reflecting on the changes made to the bill in the Senate Education Committee that changed the definitions of antisemitism in the bill, which flipped the groups that support and oppose the bill, creating opposition from the Jewish community. No other Senators spoke about the bill before voting 42-6 to support the bill and most definitely sending it to Conference Committee for further negotiation on the language.  
  • HB1003 dissolves the Office of Environmental Adjudication (OEA) and transfers cases to the Office of Administrative Law Proceedings (OALP). Concerns about maintaining the environmental expertise of those working on environmental cases were resolved by amendment in the House. An amendment in a Senate Committee threatened to sink the entire bill. However, a 2nd reading amendment on the floor righted the ship. The bill author would like to end “deference” as to questions of law being given to an agency after ruling by an administrative law judge; a trend nationally. A concurrence by the House author is likely but not guaranteed.
  • HB1183 is an attempt to limit foreign ownership of Indiana farm lands by prohibiting individuals or companies from countries identified as “adversaries” from buying land designated as farm land or any land within 10 miles of a military installation (down from 50 mile radius initially in the bill). The countries currently included are: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba & Venezuela. The bill is supported by the Farm Bureau, with the exception of farmers in NW IN who were looking forward to selling grain to a new processor owned by FuFang – a Chinese Company. The bill passed the Senate 48-0 – as of this time, the House has not signaled whether they will Concur or Dissent with the changes made in the Senate.
  • SB15 requires the Dept. of Labor to consult with the Office of Veterans’ Affairs to create a poster that outlines benefits and services available to veterans to be displayed by any employer with at least 50 employees – the goal is to increase awareness of benefits available to veterans. The House also included some changes in the bill re: educational benefits available to children of service-level members with a disability rating. The House passed the bill 97-0 on Monday.
  • SB190 updates state disaster relief efforts for communities, businesses, and individuals after the Dept. of Homeland Security found limitations in the current fund statutes when several communities were hit with disasters in 2023. The bill simplifies the formula used to calculate how much funding a community can get; decouples individual assistance from federal action; increases the maximum a household can get; and allows the fund to be available not just for recovery, but for mitigation. The House passed the bill 97-0 on Monday unamended to send the bill to the Governor.
  • SB228 is the Dept. of Revenue agency bill this year. Of most interest to E-REP members, it changes NEXUS measures by eliminating the 200 total sales but leaves in place the $100,000 amount. It also gives a 50% deduction on utility taxes for businesses with 75% of sales as food. There are a variety of other changes, too. The bill passed the House unamended 98-0 and will go straight to the Governor. 
  • HB1121 is a wide-ranging bill with a variety of Local Income Tax issues, including language added in the House that would have allowed the City of Indianapolis to pass a new LIT (for all residents) to support the work in the “Mile Square” of downtown Indianapolis currently paid for with the Economic Enhancement District (EED). The EED was set for elimination in HB1199, but currently looks like a compromise has been reached that keeps the EED, but makes some changes. Nothing else in the bill has attracted much attention. The Bill passed 41-7 and likely goes to Conference Committee for more negotiation.
  • HB1243 is a comprehensive education bill with a few pieces of interest to E-REP, including adding required coursework in computer science/data literacy to high school and increasing transparency re: how schools allocate their funding and in the effectiveness of training and apprenticeship programs as Hoosiers progress in the workforce. The SEnate passed the bill 48-0 and it is likely to go to Conference Committee, though we don’t know that for certain yet.
  • SB256 is a “Christmas tree” bill covering a variety of fiscal matters. Of interest, the bill changes the cap on mental health grants passed last year (increases to $5M from $2.5M); establishes the community cares initiative grant pilot program (originally in SB10); requires several reports and creates some fixes re: the $1B Medicaid forecasting errors; extends the road funding task force (FIRST) for an additional year; requires State Budget Committee review before land can be designated or continued as an Innovation Development District; raises the maximum asset limit for SNAP benefits to $8000 (from $5000); creates a sales tax exemption on feminine hygiene products; prevents IN communities from declaring “sister cities” with communities in “adversarial countries;” and several other provisions. The House passed the bill on Monday with a 98-0 vote and it will surely go to Conference Committee for final negotiation on the many pieces of the bill.

Important Dates

*Reminder: Conference Committee Hearings only require 2-hours’ notice, so we can’t share those in advance

  • Friday, March 8: Anticipated last day of Session
  • Thursday, March 14: Deadline for Legislature to Adjourn Sine Die