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Indiana Legislative Update – The End in Sight 

It was a busy week at the Statehouse, with an anticipated early adjournment to the 2024 session and deadlines looming, lawmakers labored to get their bills out of Committee. There was no more time for delay in addressing the most controversial bills of session. At times, tempers flared and some bills died if they didn’t pass out of Committee this week, however all hope is not lost as the language may reappear amended into other bills during the final days.

Next week we expect an even more frenzied pace as lawmakers will be up against 3rd reading (final floor vote) deadlines – on Monday for Senate bills in the House and on Tuesday for House bills in the Senate. Bills that pass the second chamber without amendments, proceed directly to the Governor after a few behind-the-scenes procedures. Once they reach the Governor, he has seven days to sign, veto, or allow a bill to become law quietly, without his signature. 

If a bill is amended, the chamber of origin must either concur with or dissent from those amendments. If the first chamber concurs, the bill proceeds on to the Governor for his action. If the first chamber dissents, the bill moves to a conference committee for legislators from both the House and Senate (called conferees) to work out their differences. If an agreement is reached, conferees sign a conference committee report which will then have to be approved by both the House and Senate to pass and go to the Governor.

For your convenience, we have provided a link to 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. 

Your updated Bill Track is attached – it is shorter once again as some bills failed to meet deadlines this week.  Here are highlights from action this week on your bills: 

  • 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 was recommitted to Senate Appropriations which reported it favorably to the full Senate on February 29.
  • While it continued to create concern from Democrats that it may be going too far in reducing regulations for childcare providers, HB1102 passed the Senate on Monday with a 40-9 vote. The bill does a few different things than SB2, though both have the goal of creating more affordable, accessible childcare for Hoosiers. Specifically HB1102 increases the number of unrelated children in a home setting and the number of hours able to work; further limits local communities’ authorization to zone providers out of existence; lengthens the time in between license renewals; and allows public or private schools to provide care beyond just their own employees’ children.
  • Following up on legislation from 2023, HB1387 intends to “clean up inconsistent language,” which established a revolving loan fund for residential infrastructure. The Indiana Finance Authority will provide reporting for the program and will document the impact of the 2023 bill into the future. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, without amendments, on Thursday, sending the bill to the Governor.
  • Sen Linda Rogers (R-Granger) was “very excited” to present the Motion to Concur for SB1, the GOP-led literacy bill some say will “hold back thousands more third graders.” The amended SB1 passed the House 69-27 earlier this week with a “few changes to make it better,” said Rogers. Democrats criticized the bill for not allocating additional monies for summer school and the prospect of widespread mandatory retention, voicing opposition to the “poison pill” in a “bill filled with good intentions,” and citing negative social and emotional effects, while supporters of the bill maintained those who are unable to read by the end of 3rd grade will “struggle for the rest of their lives.” Currently nearly one in five Hoosier students fail IREAD, with Indianapolis Public School students faring the worst at 38.7%. The Senate agreed to concur with the House amendments 29-16 sending the bill to the Governor’s desk for signature.
  • SB8 has a goal of increasing access and affordability to higher education by requiring all IN High Schools to offer the College Core classes (some will do so via online classes hosted by the Commission for Higher Education) to allow HS students to earn credits before college. The bill also expands the opportunity for Ivy Tech & Vincennes U to allow more transfer programs and the “degree in 3” years programs. It also establishes a “careful study of the feasibility and advisability of allowing 4-year campuses to offer Associates Degrees.” The bill passed the House 92-0 on Tuesday; it was amended, so the Senate will need to Concur with the changes or send it to Conference Committee.
  • HB 1399 would have established a definition for Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), AKA “forever chemicals” because they are nearly ubiquitous in our waste streams. The Environmental Rules Board would have been required to use the definition in any future rule promulgation. Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) objected to the carve outs in the bill, “After all we have accomplished – the first state to establish a biomonitoring pilot program for firefighters – we will be the first state to no longer call thousands of PFAS chemicals, PFAS. We should be making every effort to strengthen protections for the people we serve.” Controversy over the bill was even more on display during a hearing in the Senate Environmental Committee on February 19, no vote was taken. The bill was back in Committee on the 26th where the Chairman said the bill would not move forward. It remains to be seen if proponents will attempt to revive the language before the end.
  • While SB10 did not receive a committee hearing in the House and has died, the Ways & Means Committee added the language to SB256 on Tuesday – along with a LOT of other subjects. This language sets up a grant program for communities to receive up to $100,000 to create sustainable, proactive systems to identify at-risk individuals and connect them to services – hopefully addressing problems before they become issues needing reactive responses from 911 calls.
  • An amended version of Sen Chris Garten’s (R-Charlestown) SB4 passed unanimously out of the House this week and a motion to dissent was filed in the Senate. Chairman’s amendments to remove requirements for LSA to develop new templates for funds and appropriations and deletes provisions requiring LSA to prepare a report on administrative rules oversight during the 2024 interim passed by consent, while House amendments which attempted to require any remaining balance in a dedicated fund revert to the Medicaid fund instead of the general fund and called for FSSA to provide quarterly updates to the State Budget and Medicaid Oversight Committee failed. The bill now moves to conference committee where appointees from both chambers will negotiate their differences. 
  • The Professional Licensing Agency (PLA) will study universal occupational licenses approved in 19 other states now that SB34 has passed the House 94-0 and heads to the Governor. The study is to be completed by October 31, 2025 and will determine the best options for streamlining the process for workers who move to Indiana with an existing professional license from somewhere else.  
  • SB148 author Sen Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) says she hopes the bill will “provide good clean data” to help DWD evaluate the effectiveness of programs through requiring employers to provide an employee’s current standardized classification code and starting compensation on an employee’s withholding allowance certificate. The info will go to the state’s management performance hub, and made available to the DWD and Governor’s Workforce Cabinet. The bill passed the House unanimously and was returned to the Senate with amendments.
  • SB 206 is the IDEM agency bill for this year. The introduced version contained language on easements and restrictive covenants and created a cause of action to gain access to property in need of remediation where an owner resisted. These two items were too much of a load on the bill and were stripped out in committee in the Senate. The remaining content of the bill deals with email communication for the purpose of notice by IDEM and some boards along with enhancements to the permitting of biomass gasification facilities. The bill passed the House unanimously and was returned to the Senate without amendments.
  • It appears that the NBA All Star Weekend reminded legislative leadership that downtown Indianapolis is an economic engine and the Economic Enhancement District (EED) might be a good tool to keep it a positive place. The version of HB1199 that passed the Senate on Thursday with a 42-7 vote no longer repeals the EED for the “Mile Square,” but does propose changes to the board and requires the City/County Council to take further actions. The bill now returns to the House, where it faces either a vote to concur or will be sent to Conference Committee for continued negotiations (seems likely) next week.
  • State and federal programs for implementation of broadband must be clearly separated in statute. HB1277, will ensure federal money continues to flow to projects. The bill was amended in the Senate Utilities Committee for a typographical error and then passed the full Senate unanimously on February 29.
  • SB132 had an interesting passage through the House having to pass through the Public Health and then the Insurance Committee. The final version of the bill allows foreign qualified nurses to obtain their licenses a bit quicker; eliminated duplicate reporting for telehealth providers; creates a test period for rolling out risk-managed care payments to health care providers; and requires dental insurers to “follow the wishes of their patients regarding payments” for services – the most controversial part. Ultimately, it passed the House 94-0 on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday, the Senate voted 45-0 to Concur with the changes made in the House, sending the bill to the Governor.
  • Of significance to E-REP, SB270 requires the DOE to study creating regional work-based learning hubs for employers to exchange best practice information and requires the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) to study and make recommendations re: Ivy Tech’s and Vincennes University’s ability to award Bachelor’s degrees. The bill has several other provisions, including controversial changes to the “dollar law” – allowing Charter school corps and other non-profits the ability to buy empty school buildings for $1. The bill passed the Senate 31-14 and is returned to the House.

Important Dates

*Reminder: Conference Committee Hearings only require 2-hours’ notice, so this list will grow

  • Monday, March 4: Deadline for Senate Bills to pass the House
  • Tuesday, March 5: Deadline for House Bills to pass the Senate
  • Thursday or Friday, March 7 or 8: Anticipated last day of Session

Thursday, March 14: Deadline for Legislature to Adjourn Sine Die