Inside the Statehouse - Week 12

Paid leave and workforce development and fair chance hiring, oh my! The yellow brick road that bills travel can have twists and turns. Thankfully, the Institute was ready to address those issues this week by speaking with committee members and educating legislators. We also fought an amendment from payday lenders and found an exciting addition of reverse credit transfer language. Read on for more details on the bills this week.
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SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian) passed the House 93-2! Thank you for the calls and emails to legislators supporting this bill. It moves on to Governor Holcomb for his signature.You can contact him here thanking him for his signature. (You can use Senate as the email topic.)
This is the farthest a bill on this issues has gotten in Indiana, so the excitement in progress is greater than the poor quality camera phone photo taken in haste before the vote left the screen. Thank you for joining our excitement!

Consider calling your legislator to thank them for their vote and encouraging their participation in future conversations.
UPDATE - Things to watch this half of the session:
Payday lending language to appear as an amendment –
This week the Institute defended against payday language being covertly inserted into SB 283, a bill protecting consumers from pyramid promotional schemes. On Tuesday, the Institute and other advocates responded to a last minute amendment that would alter the uniform consumer credit code instead of the separate small loans statute, including a possible 171% APR. Thankfully, discussion with the bill’s author and the presence of opponents kept the amendment at bay. We will continue to watch this bill as well as HB 1539 for payday lending language. 

SB 312, the ban ‘Ban the Box’ bill –
This bill was heard in House Courts and Criminal Code on Wednesday. A notable voice addressing the bill was Vop Osili, the City-County Councilor who wrote the Marion County “Ban the Box” statute that is in effect. His plea was that there be something in place so that more individuals have the opportunity to become employed. Section 4 of this bill includes protection for employers by not allowing background checks to be used as evidence in civil suits, which can remove some risk and encourage the hiring of ex-offenders. The Institute is disappointed it passed out of committee 11-0. 

Adult literacy –
We expect an amendment in HB 1384 asking for the state to report the need for job-driven adult literacy training.  

This Week:
On the Floor
Several bills the Institute supports passed this week. On Tuesday, HB 1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackleford) passed the Senate 49-1. SB 307 Veteran preference for employment and training (Hershman) passed the House 95-0. 

SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman passed the House 96-0 and is returned to the Senate with amendments. It will most likely go to conference committee.*

SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) passed the House 82-13.

SB 42 Pro bono legal service fee (Grooms) remained on 2nd reading this week with three possible amendments. House Employment Labor and Pensions heard SB 59 Reciprocity in professional licensing (Head) on Tuesday, but it remains on 2nd reading. SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman) passed out of House Ways and Means, yet remained on 2nd reading all week. HB 1308 will be on 3rd reading in the Senate next week. SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms) and SB 507 Economic development (Head) will be on 3rd reading next week in the House.

*Speaking of conference committees, let’s take a second to talk about what that means. If a bill is passed by one chamber, but amended in the other, the originating chamber must approve the amendments. If they do not, the bill goes to conference committee! There, two members from each chamber are appointed to discuss the bill and get it to a version they all agree on. All four members must sign the committee report and then the report must be voted upon and pass both chambers. 


In Committee
HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston) was heard in Senate Appropriations with much discussion on the Workforce Development Grant, which was removed from the bill with a last minute Senate amendment. The Commissioner of Higher Education, Teresa Lubbers, stressed the importance of the Workforce Development Grant in helping Hoosiers get high value certificates or “upskill” in order to get high demand jobs. Jessica Fraser from the Institute spoke on the data that supports the demand for middle skill jobs and the necessity of this grant. The amended bill passed 11-0 with some legislators stating their yes vote was on the commitment that the workforce development grant would be added back in. 

HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan) was heard in Senate Education and Career Development where an amendment passed which requires the commission to: (1) study and make recommendations regarding the benefits of a reverse transfer policy for Indiana students and prepare a report regarding the recommendations; and (2) submit, not later than November 1, 2017, the report to the budget agency and legislative council. Reverse credit transfer would provide a mechanism for students who begin their education at community colleges before transferring to a four-year institution to automatically receive associate degrees when they hit the right credit threshold. Read the Institute’s report from 2013 on this issue here.

HB 1523 Search fee for public records requests (Richardson) was heard in Senate Local Government. Most people who testified on the bill were in support including the Hoosier State Press Association, a local treasurer, a local recorder, and a representative of Ball State University. The Institute is hopeful that this will not put an undue burden on researchers, though the intent of the bill seems to be solely to allow public entities to recoup costs of high volume search requests. 

HB1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) passed out of Senate Appropriations 9-0 with no discussion or amendments. It heads to the full Senate where it will be up for amendments, discussion, and vote. 

HB 1154 passed Senate Pensions and Labor with some amendments to the full Senate. If it passes the Senate, the author has said it will go to conference committee because the amendments are not in line with his intent for the bill. Much of the discussion was centered around the Unemployment Insurance fund, from how much was needed to bolster it back up, whether there should be a cap, how much is used for fraud and the return on investment for those funds, and how/when it should be reported to legislators. 

HB 1439 FSSA matters (Kirchhofer) heard in Senate Health and Provider Services where it passed 9-0 and was recommitted to Appropriations. 

HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunication (Negele) passed Senate Utilities 7-0.

Next week:
In committee
Monday 3/27
HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey) in Senate Elections at 10am in Rm. 431
SB 283 Pyramid promotional schemes (Messmer) in House Judiciary at 10:30am in Rm 156-D

Tuesday 3/28
HB 1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) and HB 1450 Property tax matters (Leonard) in Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy at 8:30am in Senate Chamber
SB 108 Education matters (Kruse) in House Education at 8:30am in House Chamber

Wednesday 3/29
HB 1394 Waiver of local occupational license fees (Frizzell) in Senate Pensions and Labor at 10am in Rm. 233
HB 1384 Various education matters (Behning) and HB 1386 Competency based education (Behning) in Senate Education and Career Development at 1:30pm in Senate Chamber. Look for the adult literacy amendment in HB 1384.

Thursday 3/30
HB 1001 State biennial budget (Brown) in Senate Appropriations at 10am in Rm. 431

On the Floor - Monday 3/27
Senate 1:30pm
2nd reading - HB 1308 Various professional licensing matters (Zent)

House 1:30pm
2nd reading - SB 42 Pro bono legal service fees (Grooms), SB 59 Reciprocity in professional licensing (Head), SB 312 Use of criminal history information in hiring (Boots), and SB 515 Various tax matters (Hershman)
3rd reading - SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms) and SB 507 Economic development (Head)

The schedules above are current as of March 24, 2017. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly website as these can and do change.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Inside the Statehouse - Week 11


Paid family and medical leave, SNAP asset limits, and adult literacy were high on the priority list this week as the Institute met with lawmakers and testified in committee meetings. Your calls and emails to legislators were appreciated - the study of paid family and medical leave passed and is headed to the full House!

This week...
GOOD NEWS! The Indiana House Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions voted 12-0 this morning to pass SB 253, a bill calling for a study on ways to expand access to paid family and medical leave for working Hoosiers. Erin Macey from the Institute was there to testify on how paid leave helps keep families healthy, workers productive, and businesses attractive to employees. Thank you for your calls and emails supporting the bill. It will now move to the House floor; please let your representative know that you would like him or her to support the bill when it is called for a vote: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators.

SB 154 Asset limitation for SNAP eligibility (Merritt) was heard on Wednesday morning in House Family, Children, and Human Affairs. Lawmakers asked some great questions about the logistics of applying and receiving SNAP, like what happens when the state distributes assistance in error and what effects have been seen in states that removed asset limits? Legislators also asked about the use of SNAP by Hoosier families, wondering if alcohol and tobacco can be purchased with SNAP dollars (they cannot) and what are SNAP households buying? These questions generated a valuable discussion about the program and its administration. The bill was held for 1-2 weeks so that committee members can file amendments. We expect an amendment that will lower the asset limit from $10,000 in the current language, to $5,000 and remove the self-attestation. We would prefer that self-attestation stay in the bill as it protects vulnerable Hoosiers who are currently denied or cut off from SNAP due to either difficulty producing the necessary paperwork or caseworker errors. However, increasing the asset test to $5,000 is an important step forward in improving access to SNAP and helping to mitigate the SNAP benefit cliff. 

In committee:
SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) passed 8-0 from the House Committee on Government Reduction.

HB1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) had many people there to speak both in support and opposition. The discussion was around how taxes are used and the appropriateness of a gas tax increase, which is a regressive tax that disproportionately affects low-income families. It was held for further discussion.  

SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman) passed 20-0 with a minor amendment. 

HB 1439 FSSA matters (Kirchhofer) was held in committee. The discussion revolved around an extension of the Medicaid period for incarcerated individuals. Currently, Medicaid is suspended one year before being terminated; this bill would suspend it for two years. 

SB 42 Pro bono legal services fee (Grooms) postpones the current sunset provision for the pro bono legal services fee from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2022. It passed 10-0 in House Courts and Criminal Code.

SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms) was brought about because a community foundation was having trouble knowing how they could use the proceeds from the sale of a hospital in their area. This bill was held. 

SB515 Tax administration (Hershman) was held. The conversation in committee centered on the effects on the agriculture industry, the increase in military income deduction, and the effect on manufacturing. 

HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) passed. Prior to passing, the committee passed amendment #20 9-0. The amendment makes HB 1004 look like SB 276, which gives foster children in the state the ability to be looked at first for Pre-K, includes a $16 million budget with $6 million in expansion, removes the provision that requires two annual inspections and changes it to random/when needed evaluations, removes the provision for a longitudinal study, earmarks technology based at-home early education, and renames the bill to Pre-K pilot program. The amended bill passed the committee 8-1. It is committed to Senate Appropriations.  

HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan) held for a week as requested by Commission for Higher Education for an amendment.  

HB 1384 Various education matters (Behining) included quite a bit of discussion ranging from vouchers to homeschooling to concern over schools being held accountable for students leaving the school and what that means for graduation rate calculation. This bill was held for amendments, one of which the Institute hopes will include adult literacy language. Stay tuned!

HB1308 Various professional licensing matters (Zent) passed 7-0 out of Senate Commerce and Technology.

On the floor:
In the House, SB 412 529 education savings plan matters (Koch) was voted upon. Some opposed the exclusion of 529 accounts from asset tests for public assistance which brought forth a discussion on breaking the cycle of poverty and the necessity of low-income families to be able to save for their children’s future while still receiving the state assistance they need to meet basic needs. It passed 93-1.

SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian) will move to 3rd reading calendar next week. Remember to let your representative know you’d like them to support this bill when it comes for a vote. You can find your legislator here.

SB 307 Veteran preference for employment and training (Hershman) passed the House Employment, Labor, and Pensions committee 12-0 with several legislators asking to sign on. The bill was passed this week, but there is an amendment filed that would change the bill to use the “Hoosier veteran” definition already in Indiana code instead of the “veteran” definition in the bill.

In the Senate, HB 1080 Commission on improving the status of children (Frizzell) passed 37-11 and was returned to the House with no amendments.

HB 1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackleford) passed committee 7-0 out of the Senate committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. Andrew Bradley from the Institute was there to testify on the importance of a study on traffic amnesty as access to a driver’s license is often vital to employment and self-sufficiency. It was on 2nd reading Thursday.

Next Week...

In committee:
SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms), SB 507 Economic development (Head), and SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman) will be heard in House Ways and Means Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 10:30 in Rm 404.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 will see HB 1154 Unemployment insurance (Leonard) heard in Senate Pensions and Labor at 10am in Rm. 233 and HB 1523 Search fee for public records requests (Richardson) in Senate Local Government at 1:30pm in Rm. 130.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 will see HB 1539 Financial institutions and consumer credit (Burton) in Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions at 9am in Rm. 130 and HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunications (Negele) in Senate Utilities at 10am in Rm. 233.

On the floor:
Monday, March 20, 2017 at 1:30pm
Senate 3rd reading – HB 1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackelford)
House 2nd reading – SB 307 Veteran preference for employment and training (Hershman)
House 3rd reading – SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) and SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian)

The schedules above are current as of March 16, 2017. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly website as these can and do change.






Friday, March 17, 2017

Inside the Statehouse - Week 10

After a slow start to the second half of the legislative session, things heat up next week as the Institute will be testifying on bills to increase SNAP accessibility, study a state paid family and medical leave policy, and study a traffic amnesty program. This week is also National Consumer Protection Week bringing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and issues like financial transparency to the forefront.

National Consumer Protection Week

It’s National Consumer Protection Week, and with the state payday bill behind us, the Institute for Working Families has been paying close attention to national legislation related to Hoosiers’ watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). To date, the CFPB has handled over 8000 complaints from Hoosiers on everything from unfair mortgage lending to debt collection practices.

Unfortunately, some members of Congress want to target the CFPB or roll back rules it has created to protect consumers. Representative Hollingsworth and Representative Messer have both signed on to H.J. Res 73, which would block CFPB “know before you owe” transparency rules and other basic protections regarding prepaid cards. Consumers use these cards to control spending: you pay an upfront fee and then get to spend the money you put on the card. A few prepaid card companies, including Netspend, a Georgia-based company, want to see a rollback of the law because they charge additional fees, such as overdraft or monthly maintenance fees. The rules do not preclude fees, but set stricter guidelines and require more transparency.

It is also important to note that more and more employers are giving employees their paychecks pre-loaded onto similar cards, and New York State’s efforts to ensure that wages aren’t eroded by fees recently failed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rules, which include notifying employees that they can request wages by other means, may be the only line of defense. Following us on facebook and twitter is a great way to keep up with what's happening on this and related consumer protection fronts.

Things to watch out for in the second half of the session:

Payday lending language to appear as an amendment
While we hope that the strong opposition to a new payday product with over 200% APR will keep the language from becoming law, we are watching relevant bills in case an amendment is offered. Join our mailing list to be alerted if action is required on this issue.

SB 312, the ban ‘Ban the Box’ bill
The video at the beginning of this IndyStar article highlighting some people whose lives are improved by fair hiring ordinances is worth three minutes of your time. Sometimes legislation seems abstract, but this shows people who are turning their lives around and simply need a chance to show their skills. The NAACP is taking notice of this bill, so we hope their involvement will help stop this legislation.

Adult literacy
Look for an amendment in an education or workforce bill asking for the state to report the need for job-driven adult literacy training. 

Bills in Committee this past week:

HB 1001 Biennial budget (Brown) was heard in Senate Appropriations with conversations ranging from tobacco tax increases to funding for sexual assault victims to teacher mentors to higher education to FSSA and DCS issues. The Institute will continue to monitor this as discussions continue. 

HB 1080 Commission on improving the status of children (Frizzell) passed out of committee 6-0 and allows for the hiring of an executive director for this commission. It will be on 3rd reading next week.

SB 412 529 Education savings plan matters (Koch) passed out of committee 9-1. This bill removes this education savings account from being included as assets when applying for certain public assistance and grants and scholarships given by commission for higher education. It will be on 3rd reading next week.

SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman) and SB 507 Economic development (Head), and SB 198 Career and technical education (Long) were all heard in House Ways and Means.

HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) and HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan) were heard in Senate Education and Career Development this week. HB 1004 had 20 people testifying in a mix of opposition and support, with issues like cost and availability as major discussion points. Erin Macey testified on behalf of the Institute urging legislators to invest in Hoosier families, many of whom cannot afford high quality Pre-K, but who benefit as a whole when their children are learning and they are able to work or pursue education. 


Next week:

In committee:HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey) is in Senate Elections on Monday 3/13 at 11am in Rm. 431.
 
SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave is likely to be heard in the House Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions at 8:30am on Tuesday 3/14. Erin Macey will testify in support of studying state solutions to increase access to this employee benefit, sharing data from the Institute's recent report with analysis and recommendations for Indiana. SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) is scheduled in House Select Committee on Government Reduction for 8:30am on Tuesday 3/14 in Rm. 156-DHB 1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) will be heard on Tuesday 3/14 at 9am in the Senate Chamber. This issue has been addressed by Democrats and Republicans, and the Institute will continue to follow its progress. HB 1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackleford) will be heard on Tuesday 3/14 at 9:30am in Rm. 130. Andrew Bradley from the Institute will be there to testify in support as it can help working Hoosiers retain access to transportation, a critical aspect of work and educational attainment. 


SB 154 Asset limitation for SNAP eligibility (Merritt) will be heard on Wednesday 3/15 at 8:30am in Rm. 156-A. Jessica Fraser from the Institute will be there to advocate for this bill, helping increase food support access to working Hoosier families. HB 1439 FSSA matters (Kirchhofer) will be heard on Wednesday 3/15 at 9am in the Senate Chamber. The Senate Education and Career Development committee will meet on Wednesday 3/15 at 1:30pm in the Senate Chamber where members will vote on HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) and HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan), and hear testimony on HB 1384 Various education matters (Behning).


On 3rd reading:

HB 1080 Commission on improving the status of children (Frizzell) will be on 3rd reading in the Senate on Monday 3/13 at 1:30pm.

SB 412 529 education savings plan matters (Koch) will be on 3rd reading in the House on Monday 3/13 at 1:30pm.

The following bills have been assigned to committee, but have not been scheduled. From here bills can be scheduled for a hearing or ignored. Not calling a bill for a hearing can be a strategy to stop legislation - something we may want for the bills we oppose, but would hate to see happen to the bills we support. The legislative process is a double-edged sword.

 
SB 8 Forfeiture (Boots) to House Courts and Criminal Code

 
SB 9 SNAP and drug convictions (Merritt) and SB 242 Indiana Housing First program (Merritt) to House Family, Children and Human Affairs

 
SB 227 Foreclosure counseling and education fee (Merritt), SB 277 Healthy food initiative program (Head), SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman), and SB 559 Property tax exemption for affordable housing (Eckerty) were sent to House Ways and Means. 

 
SB 276 Prekindergarten education (Holdman) to House Education.

 
SB 307, a bill that would provide preference to veterans and their spouses for employment and training, was referred to House Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

 
SB 558 Leases and sales of real property (Holdman) was sent to House Judiciary. 


The schedules above are current as of March 9, 2017. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly website as these can and do change.

You can see the updated list of ALL the bills the institute is following this session here. For daily updates, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. If any of the live bills interest you, sign up for our mailing list where you will get action alerts on these and other issues. We welcome your donations to help us keep doing what we do.
Thursday, March 16, 2017

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