Indiana’s working parents & adult students need to benefit during this education session, too

By Andrew Bradley

Hoosier adults and working parents are ready to go back to school to get the skills to compete for better jobs and higher wages, but will Indiana provide the opportunities they need to be able to boost their families and the state’s economy?

Despite a self-proclaimed ‘education session’ at the Statehouse aimed at K-12 schools, policymakers must remember that the success of working parents and adult students is also necessary for Indiana to meet its economic and workforce goals. And while there are several promising proposals being discussed in the General Assembly, Indiana still needs true leadership to bring together supportive services with financial aid in a way that removes barriers and allows Hoosier adults to benefit from completing their degrees and credentials.

A new policy brief from the Indiana Institute for Working Families indicates that Indiana’s economy and the prosperity of its families continues to be held back by the low educational attainment of our adults, and it gives recommendations for how Indiana can better align state and federal resources so Indiana can meet its goals and responsibilities. The policy brief provides data that show adults and financially independent students combine for over a third of Indiana’s post-secondary population, but until this past year, those who had to attend part-time have only been eligible for less than 3 percent of state’s financial aid. And while employers are increasingly requiring applicants to have degrees and credentials above the high school level, data from the Working Poor Families Project shows that 30.1 percent of prime working-age adults in Indiana ages 25-54 had only a high school diploma or equivalent in 2013, and another 11 percent don’t even have that, higher percentages than all of our neighbors except Kentucky. And while an additional 22.9 percent have some post-secondary education but no degree to show for it, just 6.8 percent of Indiana’s working-age adults were enrolled in post-secondary education in 2013.

As Indiana employers have told the state time and again, there is a skills gap for educated workers, particularly in middle-skill occupations such as nurses, electricians and operating engineers that require education above a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. These are the very certifications and degrees that adult students have the best opportunity to complete, particularly those students with family and financial obligations that require them to attend school while working. Meanwhile, demographic projections show that adults who have been in the workforce since 2010 will remain nearly 2/3 of Indiana’s workforce through 2025, meaning that in order to meet the demands of a changing economy, Indiana must concentrate on finding solutions for the adults who are already part of our labor pool. 

However, Indiana’s adults are too often kept from going back to school to complete degrees by work and family obligations, and even more frustratingly, by the lack of support and services matching their needs. The Institute has found that almost two-thirds of Indiana’s post-secondary adult students age 25-54 work their way through school, and over 60 percent of these work more than 30 hours per week while taking classes, whether at part-time or full-time status. Another recent study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research finds that while 26 percent of all college students nationwide are raising dependent children, it’s become harder to find child care on campus, especially at 2-year colleges, where only 46 percent now provide any on-location child care. For the more than 4 in 10 student parents who attend community college, this means they can only take a class if they can find child care somewhere else, not exactly a reliable recipe for a degree.

There are a few promising proposals for Hoosier adults wanting to improve their skills, but big gaps still exist. Senate Bill 509 would transform the previous grant for part-time students into the state’s first ‘Adult Learners Grant’ and give the state flexibility to reward students for persistence by giving graduation grants for students studying to go into high-demand occupations. Even so, this grant would still amount to only two percent of the state’s financial aid, compared to the 36 percent of adult and independent students in the state’s post-secondary population. Another promising proposal is in House Bill 1601, which would open the door for better aligning the services of the state’s workforce and family resources agencies when providing services for Hoosiers. This is an exciting development that could foster interagency coordination and pave the way for ‘two generation solutions’ to help parents put themselves on the pathway to economic success while simultaneously putting kids on the path to educational and personal success.

What will still be needed at the highest level of state government is for leadership with the vision to strategically put together resources and services so that adults have the best chance to return and complete the degrees. This will mean discerning how to maximize the use of limited state and federal funds meant for workforce development so that they result in portable, stackable, industry-recognized credentials, not just resume-writing workshops. It will take leadership to make a priority of tearing down barriers to education while providing access to child care and transportation; and also promoting guided pathways for adults and structured part-time programs that include academic maps, critical path courses, and student advising designed to promote completion.

Until that leadership emerges and takes up this cause as its own, we will continue to remind policymakers at the Statehouse that Indiana needs an education session that includes working parents and adults, too.
Friday, March 27, 2015

Inside the Statehouse: Week 11













This week, the House Ways and Means Committee votes on SB 509 to improve support for adult students pursuing post-secondary education and training. The Commerce and Technology Committee will hear SB 1601 dealing with workforce development matters, opening the door to increased cooperation between agencies on training programs for low-income Hoosiers.

As a reminder, legislative calendars are subject to change so please check back for updates. Here is a complete list of all legislation affecting working families that we are tracking. We'll send a separate email calling for specific action on legislation as necessary. For the time being, you can contact your legislator to support or oppose any of this week's activity here.

This Week
SB 509: Scholarships and Grants
Description: Scholarships and grants. Provides that at the end of each state fiscal year, the commission for higher education (commission) may order the auditor of state to transfer money among certain funds if the commission determines that the remaining appropriation in a particular fund could be used by eligible applicants for an award under one of the other funds in the following state fiscal year. Provides that the auditor of state shall make a transfer ordered by the commission. Renames the "part-time student grant" as the "adult student grant". Renames the "part-time student grant fund" as the "adult student grant fund". Establishes the economic priority sector fund (fund). Provides that the fund shall be used to provide graduation grants to certain applicants who earn a degree or certificate aligned with economic priority sectors. Makes technical and conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: The Institute testified in support. Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken.
Our Position: SUPPORT: The bill will better align state resources for the nearly 1/3 of Indiana's adults with no post-secondary education, as well as those with some college but no degree. For the majority of Indiana's adult students, working more than part-time is needed to go to school, whether as a part-time or full-time student. Re-shaping the state's current Part-Time Grant into an Adult Learners Grant that provides incentives for adults to pursue study in priority economic sectors will both help those students complete degrees and credentials leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs and will also help close Indiana's skills gap.
Hearing Location and Time: Wednesday March 25, 1:30PM, Room 404. Amend and vote.

HB: 1613: Family and Social Services Administration
Description: Family and social services administration. Specifies that the secretary of family and social services, rather than certain division directors, is: (1) the appointing authority for divisions within the office of the secretary of family and social services (office of the secretary); (2) authorized to advise the governor concerning adopted rules; (3) authorized to adopt administrative rules; (4) authorized to enter into contracts for the office of the secretary; and (5) the authority for administering specified programs and grants.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: Referred to committee on Family & Children Services
Hearing Location and Time: Monday March 23, 10:30AM, Senate Chamber

HB 1601: Various Workforce Development Matters
Description: Reorganizes and recodifies the duties and programs of the department of workforce development (department). Allows the division of family resources and the department to enter into a memorandum of understanding concerning administering federal work requirements for public welfare programs. Permits the Indiana career council to meet only at the call of the chair rather than monthly. Repeals obsolete, expired, and superseded provisions. Updates cross-references and makes conforming and technical changes.
Last Action Taken: Public Testimony was heard. No votes were taken.

Our Position: Support: While most of this bill deals with the technical corrections needed for the implementation of the New federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we are encouraged by the provision allowing for the memorandum of understanding between DWD and FSSA for the purposes of the federal work requirements of public benefit programs. This indicates to us a movement toward greater access to the DWDs workforce training programs for Indiana's public benefit recipients.
Hearing Location and Time: Thursday March 26, 9AM, Room 233


Last Week
HB 1616: Eligibility for Child Care Voucher
Description: Provides that a child who is otherwise eligible for participation in the federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher program may continue to participate unless the child's family income exceeds 250% of the federal income poverty level.
Last Action Taken: The bill passed committee on Family & Children Services 7-0. Referred to Appropriations committee. The Institute testified in support of the bill.
Our Position: SUPPORT- The 'exit-level' threshold in the Childcare Development Fund (CCDF) design is responsible for the economic phenomenon known as the childcare
'cliff effect' - which occurs when a .50 increase in hourly wages leads to the complete termination of the benefit and a dramatic net loss of resources. This creates a disincentive towards economic mobility; a parent or guardian turns down the raise due to the prohibitive cost of childcare, or does accept the hard-earned increase but is now financially worse off. By reforming income thresholds in the childcare development fund, policymakers can restore the most basic incentive for hard work - a raise that results in an increase in net resources - and provide Hoosier families with a smooth landing into economic self-sufficiency. See our infographic video here.

SB 509: Scholarships and Grants
Description: Scholarships and grants. Provides that at the end of each state fiscal year, the commission for higher education (commission) may order the auditor of state to transfer money among certain funds if the commission determines that the remaining appropriation in a particular fund could be used by eligible applicants for an award under one of the other funds in the following state fiscal year. Provides that the auditor of state shall make a transfer ordered by the commission. Renames the "part-time student grant" as the "adult student grant". Renames the "part-time student grant fund" as the "adult student grant fund". Establishes the economic priority sector fund (fund). Provides that the fund shall be used to provide graduation grants to certain applicants who earn a degree or certificate aligned with economic priority sectors. Makes technical and conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: The Institute testified in support. Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken.
Our Position: SUPPORT: The bill will better align state resources for the nearly 1/3 of Indiana's adults with no post-secondary education, as well as those with some college but no degree. For the majority of Indiana's adult students, working more than part-time is needed to go to school, whether as a part-time or full-time student. Re-shaping the state's current Part-Time Grant into an Adult Learners Grant that provides incentives for adults to pursue study in priority economic sectors will both help those students complete degrees and credentials leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs and will also help close Indiana's skills gap.


HB 1042: Education Loan Information
Description: Education loan information. Requires a postsecondary educational institution that enrolls students who receive Frank O'Bannon grants or twenty-first century scholarships to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student's education loans. Provides that an eligible institution does not incur liability for any information provided to students.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 48-1
Our Position: SUPPORT: By requiring post-secondary institutions to provide students with estimates of their total loan payoff and monthly repayment amounts, HB 1042 will help Hoosier students make better decisions about course selection and loans, and will promote on-time college completion while reducing unnecessary credits and student debt.


HB 1349: Various Tax Matters
Description: Eliminates various adjustments to income for purposes of determining Indiana adjusted gross income. Eliminates various income tax exemptions, deductions, and credits. Provides that business income is all income apportionable to the state under the Constitution of the United States. Eliminates the taxation of income that is attributed to a state that does not have an income tax (the "throwback rule"). Provides that sales of a broadcaster that arise from the broadcast or other distribution of film programming or radio programming are in this state if the commercial domicile of the broadcaster's customer is in this state. Broadens the addback to Indiana adjusted gross income related to intercompany interest expenses. Uses the most recent Internal Revenue Code for determining the earned income tax credit. Provides for a tax amnesty program. Makes technical corrections and conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: Passed committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy 8-4


HB 1231: Accelerated Degree Programs
Description: Accelerated degree programs. Provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program. Specifies that a student receiving the award may not receive a Frank O'Bannon award.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education and Career Development committee 8-0


HB 1142: Tax Issues
Description: Specifies that the legislative services agency (rather than the commission on state tax and financing policy or its successor committee, under current law) shall before October 1 of each year conduct the review, analysis, and evaluation of all tax incentives under House Enrolled Act 1020-2014, according to a schedule developed by the legislative services agency.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 45-5


SB 438: State and Local Tax Issues
Description: Amends the sales tax exemption for medical equipment, supplies, and devices to: (1) restate the application of the sales tax exemption for medical equipment, supplies, and devices; and (2) provide a sales tax exemption for food, food ingredients, and dietary supplements that are sold by a licensed practitioner or pharmacist. Amends the sales tax exemption for drugs, insulin, oxygen, blood, or blood plasma to restate the application of the sales tax exemption. Repeals the sales tax exemption for food and food ingredients prescribed as medically necessary by a physician.
Last Action Taken: The Institute testified asking for an amendment to reinsert language regarding recoupling Indiana's state EITC to the federal eligibility guideline. Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken.
 

HB 1601: Various Workforce Development Matters
Description: Various workforce development matters. Reorganizes and recodifies the duties and programs of the department of workforce development (department). Allows the division of family resources and the department to enter into a memorandum of understanding concerning administering federal work requirements for public welfare programs. Permits the Indiana career council to meet only at the call of the chair rather than monthly. Repeals obsolete, expired, and superseded provisions. Updates cross-references and makes conforming and technical changes.
Last Action Taken: Public testimony was heard to votes were taken.
 

HB 1469: Wage Payment and Wage Assignment
Description: Wage payment and wage assignment. Provides that an employer who fails to make timely payment of wages or withholds wages in bad faith, may, in addition to the wages due, pay liquidated damages, court costs, and a reasonable fee for the employee's attorney. Provides that an employee may assign wages for: (1) the purchase, rental, or use of uniforms or equipment necessary to fulfill the duties of employment; (2) reimbursement for education or employee skills training; (3) an advance for payroll or vacation pay; and (4) meals eaten by the employee at a location provided by the employer.
Last Action Taken: Amended bill passes Pensions and Labor committee 6-4
  

SB 465: FSSA Matters
Description: Makes multiple changes to the administration of the office of the secretary of family and social services. Repeals the step ahead comprehensive early childhood grant program. Makes changes in the manner that voter registration applications and declinations can be transferred. Removes language that provided an incentive payment to the offices of prosecuting attorneys for the investigation or prosecution of food stamp fraud. Repeals language concerning: (1) civil penalties for Medicaid fraud; and (2) public records reports of Medicaid recipients. Makes technical and conforming changes.
Last Action Taken: Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken.

HB 434: Financial Aid and Tuition
Description: Financial aid and tuition. Provides that a person who: (1) is a nonresident; (2) is a member of the Indiana National Guard; and (3) attends a state educational institution; is eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for undergraduate and graduate courses. Provides that certain: (1) veterans; and (2) persons who serve on active military duty; are eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for graduate courses.
Last Action Taken: Passes the House 95-0


HB 1438: Adult high schools
Description: Provides that the department of education shall distribute funding for adult high schools to the adult high school's organizer. Provides that an adult high school may be authorized by the executive of a consolidated city.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education and Career Development committee 8-0






Monday, March 23, 2015

Inside the Statehouse: Week 10













This week,  the Senate committee on Family & Children Services will hear HB 1616a bill to smooth out the child care benefit-cliffSB438 includes provisions to recouple Indiana's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the federal EITC, and; SB 509, a bill to improve support for part-time and adult students, is receiving a hearing in House Ways and Means. 

As a reminder, legislative calendars are subject to change so please check back for updates. Here is a complete list of all legislation affecting working families that we are tracking. We'll send a separate email calling for specific action on legislation as necessary. For the time being, you can contact your legislator to support or oppose any of this week's activity here.

This Week

HB 1616: Eligibility for Child Care Voucher
Description: Provides that a child who is otherwise eligible for participation in the federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher program may continue to participate unless the child's family income exceeds 250% of the federal income poverty level.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Family & Children Services
Our Position: SUPPORT- The 'exit-level' threshold in the Childcare Development Fund (CCDF) design is responsible for the economic phenomenon known as the childcare
'cliff effect' - which occurs when a .50 increase in hourly wages leads to the complete termination of the benefit and a dramatic net loss of resources. This creates a disincentive towards economic mobility; a parent or guardian turns down the raise due to the prohibitive cost of childcare, or does accept the hard-earned increase but is now financially worse off. By reforming income thresholds in the childcare development fund, policymakers can restore the most basic incentive for hard work - a raise that results in an increase in net resources - and provide Hoosier families with a smooth landing into economic self-sufficiency. See our infographic video here.
Hearing Location & Time: Monday March 16, 10:30AM, Senate Chamber

SB 438: State and Local Tax Issues
Description: 
Amends the sales tax exemption for medical equipment, supplies, and devices to: (1) restate the application of the sales tax exemption for medical equipment, supplies, and devices; and (2) provide a sales tax exemption for food, food ingredients, and dietary supplements that are sold by a licensed practitioner or pharmacist. Amends the sales tax exemption for drugs, insulin, oxygen, blood, or blood plasma to restate the application of the sales tax exemption. Repeals the sales tax exemption for food and food ingredients prescribed as medically necessary by a physician.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Ways and Means 
Hearing Location & Time: Monday March 16, 10:30AM, Room 404

SB 509: Scholarships and Grants
Description: Scholarships and grants. Provides that at the end of each state fiscal year, the commission for higher education (commission) may order the auditor of state to transfer money among certain funds if the commission determines that the remaining appropriation in a particular fund could be used by eligible applicants for an award under one of the other funds in the following state fiscal year. Provides that the auditor of state shall make a transfer ordered by the commission. Renames the "part-time student grant" as the "adult student grant". Renames the "part-time student grant fund" as the "adult student grant fund". Establishes the economic priority sector fund (fund). Provides that the fund shall be used to provide graduation grants to certain applicants who earn a degree or certificate aligned with economic priority sectors. Makes technical and conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Ways and Means
Our Position: SUPPORT: The bill will better align state resources for the nearly 1/3 of Indiana's adults with no post-secondary education, as well as those with some college but no degree. For the majority of Indiana's adult students, working more than part-time is needed to go to school, whether as a part-time or full-time student. Re-shaping the state's current Part-Time Grant into an Adult Learners Grant that provides incentives for adults to pursue study in priority economic sectors will both help those students complete degrees and credentials leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs and will also help close Indiana's skills gap.
Hearing Location & Time: Monday March 16, 10:30AM, Room 404

HB 1349: Various Tax Matters
Description:
Eliminates various adjustments to income for purposes of determining Indiana adjusted gross income. Eliminates various income tax exemptions, deductions, and credits. Provides that business income is all income apportionable to the state under the Constitution of the United States. Eliminates the taxation of income that is attributed to a state that does not have an income tax (the "throwback rule"). Provides that sales of a broadcaster that arise from the broadcast or other distribution of film programming or radio programming are in this state if the commercial domicile of the broadcaster's customer is in this state. Broadens the addback to Indiana adjusted gross income related to intercompany interest expenses. Uses the most recent Internal Revenue Code for determining the earned income tax credit. Provides for a tax amnesty program.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Tax & Fiscal Policy
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday March 17, 9AM, Room 431
 
HB 1231: Accelerated Degree Programs
Description: Accelerated degree programs. Provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program. Specifies that a student receiving the award may not receive a Frank O'Bannon award.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: Referred to committee on Education and Career Development
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 18, 1:30PM, Senate Chamber. Amend and vote only.

HB 1001: State Biennial Budget
Description: State budget
Last Action Taken: The Senate Appropriations committee heard testimony. No votes were taken.
Hearing Location & Time: Thursday March 19, 9AM, Room 431

HB 1469: Wage Payment and Wage Assignment
Description: Wage payment and wage assignment. Provides that an employer who fails to make timely payment of wages or withholds wages in bad faith, may, in addition to the wages due, pay liquidated damages, court costs, and a reasonable fee for the employee's attorney. Provides that an employee may assign wages for: (1) the purchase, rental, or use of uniforms or equipment necessary to fulfill the duties of employment; (2) reimbursement for education or employee skills training; (3) an advance for payroll or vacation pay; and (4) meals eaten by the employee at a location provided by the employer.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Pensions & Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 18, 9AM, Room 233

SB 465: FSSA Matters
Description: Makes multiple changes to the administration of the office of the secretary of family and social services. Repeals the step ahead comprehensive early childhood grant program. Makes changes in the manner that voter registration applications and declinations can be transferred. Removes language that provided an incentive payment to the offices of prosecuting attorneys for the investigation or prosecution of food stamp fraud. Repeals language concerning: (1) civil penalties for Medicaid fraud; and (2) public records reports of Medicaid recipients. Makes technical and conforming changes.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Public Health
Hearing Location & Time: Monday March 16, 10:30AM, Room 156-B



Last Week


HB 1042: Education Loan Information
Description: Education loan information. Requires a postsecondary educational institution that enrolls students who receive Frank O'Bannon grants or twenty-first century scholarships to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student's education loans. Provides that an eligible institution does not incur liability for any information provided to students.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education committee 9-0
Our Position: SUPPORT: By requiring post-secondary institutions to provide students with estimates of their total loan payoff and monthly repayment amounts, HB 1042 will help Hoosier students make better decisions about course selection and loans, and will promote on-time college completion while reducing unnecessary credits and student debt.
HB 1231: Accelerated Degree Programs
Description: Provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program. Specifies that a student receiving the award may not receive a Frank O'Bannon award. Appropriates $1,000,000 in state fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to the commission for higher education to award grants to state educational institutions for implementing 36 month baccalaureate degree programs that are approved by the commission.
Last Action Taken: Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken

HB 1142: Tax Issues
Description: Specifies that the legislative services agency (rather than the commission on state tax and financing policy or its successor committee, under current law) shall before October 1 of each year conduct the review, analysis, and evaluation of all tax incentives under House Enrolled Act 1020-2014, according to a schedule developed by the legislative services agency.
Last Action Taken: Passed Tax and Fiscal Policy committee 13-0. Engrossed.

HB 1001: State Biennial Budget
Description: State budget
Last Action Taken: The Appropriations committee heard testimony. No votes were taken.
HB 434: Financial Aid and Tuition
Description: Financial aid and tuition. Provides that a person who: (1) is a nonresident; (2) is a member of the Indiana National Guard; and (3) attends a state educational institution; is eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for undergraduate and graduate courses. Provides that certain: (1) veterans; and (2) persons who serve on active military duty; are eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for graduate courses.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education committee 10-0. Engrossed

HB 1438: Adult High Schools
Description: Provides that the department of education shall distribute funding for adult high schools to the adult high school's organizer. Provides that an adult high school may be authorized by the executive of a consolidated city.
Last Action Taken: Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken

HB 1186: Unemployment Insurance
Description: Unemployment insurance. Provides that any part of an unemployment insurance surcharge not used to pay interest on the advances made to the state from the federal unemployment trust fund must be credited against the total amount of benefits charged to the state's unemployment insurance trust fund before determining each employer's share of those benefits.
Last Action Taken: Passes Pensions and Labor committee 9-1

SB 436: State and Local Taxation
Description: State and local taxation. Provides that if a taxpayer has personal property subject to assessment in more than one township in a county or has personal property that is subject to assessment and that is located in two or more taxing districts within the same township, the taxpayer shall file a single tax return with the county assessor.
Last Action Taken: Public testimony was heard. No votes were taken.

HB 1497: Reemployment Services for Unemployment Recipients
Description: Reemployment services for unemployment recipients. Provides that certain individuals who have been determined by the department of workforce development to need reemployment services may be required to participate in certain additional services provided by the department of workforce development.
Last Action Taken: Passes Pensions and Labor committee 10-0



 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inside the Statehouse: Week 9













We are starting the second half of  the 2015 General Assembly . This week the House begins debating Senate bills, and vice versa. The Senate will hear multiple education bills in the Education and Career Development committee. The budget the House passed (HB 1001) will have  a hearing in the Senate  Appropriations committee.

As a reminder, legislative calendars are subject to change so please check back for updates. Here is a complete list of all legislation affecting working families that we are tracking. We'll send a separate email calling for specific action on legislation as necessary. For the time being, you can contact your legislator to support or oppose any of this week's activity here.

This Week
HB 1042: Education Loan Information
Description: Education loan information. Requires a postsecondary educational institution that enrolls students who receive Frank O'Bannon grants or twenty-first century scholarships to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student's education loans. Provides that an eligible institution does not incur liability for any information provided to students.
Last Action Taken: First hearing in the Senate committee on Education and Career Development. Public testimony was heard, no votes were taken.
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 11, 1:30PM, Senate Chamber                             

HB 1231: Accelerated Degree Programs
Description: Provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program. Specifies that a student receiving the award may not receive a Frank O'Bannon award. Appropriates $1,000,000 in state fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to the commission for higher education to award grants to state educational institutions for implementing 36 month baccalaureate degree programs that are approved by the commission.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Education and Career Development.
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 11, 1:30PM, Senate Chamber

HB 1001: State Biennial Budget
Description: State budget
Last Action Taken: First hearing was held in Senate appropriations committee. No votes were taken.
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday March 10, upon adjournment, Senate Chamber
 
HB 1186: Unemployment Insurance
Description: Unemployment insurance. Provides that any part of an unemployment insurance surcharge not used to pay interest on the advances made to the state from the federal unemployment trust fund must be credited against the total amount of benefits charged to the state's unemployment insurance trust fund before determining each employer's share of those benefits.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Pensions and Labor 
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 11, 9AM, RM 233

HB 1497: Reemployment services for unemployment recipients
Description: Reemployment services for unemployment recipients. Provides that certain individuals who have been determined by the department of workforce development to need reemployment services may be required to participate in certain additional services provided by the department of workforce development.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Pensions and Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 11, 9AM, RM 233
  
HB 1438: Adult High Schools
Description: Provides that the department of education shall distribute funding for adult high schools to the adult high school's organizer. Provides that an adult high school may be authorized by the executive of a consolidated city.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to committee on Education and Career Development.
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday March 11, 1:30PM, Senate Chamber

Last Week
HB 1042: Education Loan Information
Description: Education loan information. Requires a postsecondary educational institution that enrolls students who receive Frank O'Bannon grants or twenty-first century scholarships to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student's education loans. Provides that an eligible institution does not incur liability for any information provided to students.
Last Action Taken: First hearing in the Senate committee on Education and Career Development. Public testimony was heard, no votes were taken.

HB 1001: State Biennial Budget
Description: State budget
Last Action Taken: First hearing was held in Senate appropriations committee. No votes were taken.
Monday, March 9, 2015

Inside the Statehouse: Week 7













We have reached the half way point of the 2015 General Assembly. Last week was the final week for Senate committees to hear Senate bills, and for House committees to hear House bills. This week there is session only on Monday and Tuesday (the last opportunity for 3rd reading of House bills in the House and Senate bills in the Senate), followed by a legislative break until Monday, March 2nd. That's when the House begins debating Senate bills, and vice versa. We'll return then, too.

Looking back on the first half of the legislative session, we're happy to report that we've seen progress with our
Policy Agenda; the House passed HB 1616 to smooth out the child care benefit-cliff 94-0; SB 509 to improve support for part-time and adult students passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 12-0; and a bill to eliminate SNAP Asset Limits (SB 549) did receive a hearing, but no votes were taken. 

Other positive developments include Governor Pence's proposal to recouple Indiana's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the federal EITC and a hearing in Senate Pensions and Labor Committee to discuss the issue of volatile schedules for low-wage workers.

Unfortunately the legislature has missed another opportunity to protect Hoosier jobs with a Work Sharing program (HB 1066), which, despite wide bipartisan support, did not even receive a hearing.

As a reminder, legislative calendars are subject to change so please check back for updates. Here is a complete list of all legislation affecting working families that we are tracking. We'll send a separate email calling for specific action on legislation as necessary. For the time being, you can contact your legislator to support or oppose any of this week's activity here.

This Week

3rd Reading Deadline.

Last Week
HB 1616: Eligibility for Child Care Voucher
Description: Provides that a child who is otherwise eligible for participation in the federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher program may continue to participate unless the child's family income exceeds 250% of the federal income poverty level.
Last Action Taken: Passed the House 94-0
Our Position: SUPPORT- The 'exit-level' threshold in the Childcare Development Fund (CCDF) design is responsible for the economic phenomenon known as the childcare
'cliff effect' - which occurs when a .50 increase in hourly wages leads to the complete termination of the benefit and a dramatic net loss of resources. This creates a disincentive towards economic mobility; a parent or guardian turns down the raise due to the prohibitive cost of childcare, or does accept the hard-earned increase but is now financially worse off. By reforming income thresholds in the childcare development fund, policymakers can restore the most basic incentive for hard work - a raise that results in an increase in net resources - and provide Hoosier families with a smooth landing into economic self-sufficiency. See our infographic video here.

SB 549: Removal of Asset Limits for SNAP Food Assistance Program
Description: Requires the division of family resources to: (1) implement within the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program (SNAP) an expanded eligibility category, which does not consider an individual's value of assets in determining SNAP eligibility; and (2) notify the United States Department of Agriculture of the implementation of expanded categorical eligibility under SNAP.
Last Action Taken: Heard by Committee on Family & Children Services no votes were taken. The
Institute testified in support of the bill.
Our Position: SUPPORT-
Asset limits send a message that saving is a behavior that warrants punishment by forcing families to spend down longer-term savings in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits, which creates a cycle of reliance on those benefits. By eliminating the asset limit, we are better able to help families develop good savings behaviors. In every county in Indiana, the $2,000 asset limit doesn't even allow a family of three to save a month's worth of savings for their most basic needs. Equal to 42% of the asset poverty level, Indiana is among just ten states with a SNAP asset limit that is below the asset poverty level for a family of three - $4773. 41 states (including D.C.) have either raised or eliminated their asset limit.

SB 438: State and Local Tax Issues
Description: Specifies that federal earned income tax credit used for purposes of calculating the Indiana earned income tax credit is the same as the federal earned income tax credit allowed under the Internal Revenue Code.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 50-0
Our Position: OPPOSE AMENDMENT #3: Indiana's State EITC eligibility guidelines were decoupled from the
federal guidelines which prevented families of three or more children from receiving the benefit from a larger EITC payment and reinstated the "marriage penalty" that had been eliminated in the federal program. Naturally, this decoupling also added "complexity and administrative burden" to Indiana's tax code, according to the Department of Revenue's Recommendations from the Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference. The federal EITC is considered the nation's most effective anti-poverty program for working families it has lifted more than 100,000 Hoosiers, including 51,000 children, out of poverty each year between 2011 and 2013. The state EITC builds on this success and is a relatively small investment that can make a big difference in the lives of working families and their children, particularly at a time when poverty is still on the rise and incomes are stagnating. Recoupling Indiana's EITC is part of the 'Working Families Tax Cut Package' we offer in our Status of Working Families report; a package that moves Indiana toward a more fair tax system and provides meaningful relief to low- to middle-income working Hoosiers.

SB 509: Scholarships and Grants
Description: Scholarships and grants. Provides that at the end of each state fiscal year, the commission for higher education (commission) may order the auditor of state to transfer money among certain funds if the commission determines that the remaining appropriation in a particular fund could be used by eligible applicants for an award under one of the other funds in the following state fiscal year. Provides that the auditor of state shall make a transfer ordered by the commission. Renames the "part-time student grant" as the "adult student grant". Renames the "part-time student grant fund" as the "adult student grant fund". Establishes the economic priority sector fund (fund). Provides that the fund shall be used to provide graduation grants to certain applicants who earn a degree or certificate aligned with economic priority sectors. Makes technical and conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: Amendment #1 passed the Committee on Appropriations by Consent. The amendment deletes the provisions concerning the economic sector priority grants. Requires the commission for higher education to award an additional amount in a recipient's final semester to a recipient graduating with a degree aligned to priority economic sectors identified by the Indiana career council. The amended bill passed Committee 12-0.
Our Position: SUPPORT: The amended bill will better align state resources for the nearly 1/3 of Indiana’s adults with no post-secondary education, as well as those with some college but no degree. For the majority of Indiana’s adult students, working more than part-time is needed to go to school, whether as a part-time or full-time student. Re-shaping the state’s current Part-Time Grant into an Adult Learners Grant that provides incentives for adults to pursue study in priority economic sectors will both help those students complete degrees and credentials leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs and will also help close Indiana’s skills gap.


HB 1001: State Biennial Budget
Description: State biennial budget. Appropriates money for capital expenditures, the operation of the state, the delivery of Medicaid and other services, and various other distributions and purposes.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Committee on Ways and Means 15-7

HB 1231: Accelerated Degree Programs
Description: Provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program. Specifies that a student receiving the award may not receive a Frank O'Bannon award. Appropriates $1,000,000 in state fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to the commission for higher education to award grants to state educational institutions for implementing 36 month baccalaureate degree programs that are approved.
Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Ways and Means 21-0, Engrossed

HB 1019: Common Construction Wage
Description: Repeals the common construction wage statute. Repeals related statutes superseded by the repeal of the common construction wage statute. Makes conforming amendments.
Last Action Taken: Passes Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions 8-4

HB 1349: Various Tax Matters
Description: Various tax matters. Eliminates the double direct test for the gross retail tax exemption for various transactions involving various types of tangible personal property. Specifies that the exemption applies if the tangible personal property is acquired for direct use or consumption in the production of tangible personal property when the person acquiring the property is occupationally engaged in the business of producing tangible personal property.

Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Ways and Means 10-6, Engrossed

HB 1613: Family and Social Services Administration
Description: Family and social services administration. Specifies that the secretary of family and social services, rather than certain division directors, is: (1) the appointing authority for divisions within the office of the secretary of family and social services (office of the secretary); (2) authorized to advise the governor concerning adopted rules; (3) authorized to adopt administrative rules; (4) authorized to enter into contracts for the office of the secretary; and (5) the authority for administering specified programs and grants.
Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Public Health 12-0

SB 436: State and Local Taxation
Description: State and local taxation. Provides that if a taxpayer has personal property subject to assessment in more than one township in a county or has personal property that is subject to assessment and that is located in two or more taxing districts within the same township, the taxpayer shall file a single tax return with the county assessor.
Last Action Taken: Amendment #6 changes transfer to property from agriculture to excess residential and defines agriculture use. Amendment #8 removes the income method used in the bill. Both amendments passed the committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy by consent. The amended the bill passed the committee 12-0.

HB 1142: Tax Issues
Description: Tax issues. Specifies that the legislative services agency (rather than the commission on state tax and financing policy or its successor committee, under current law) shall before October 1 of each year conduct the review, analysis, and evaluation of all tax incentives under House Enrolled Act 1020-2014, according to a schedule developed by the legislative services agency.
Last Action Taken: Passed the House 94-2

HB 1639: Various Education Matters
Description: Various education matters. Requires the state board of education (state board) to establish a statewide student record repository of public school student achievement records to provide: (1) access to relevant student information to parents and school corporations; (2) for the transfer of student information between school corporations; and (3) a student data backup for school corporations. Prohibits an agency from releasing, selling, or otherwise transferring student information to any entity unless all identifying information concerning students has been redacted or the general assembly has enacted legislation expressly authorizing the release, sale, or transfer.
Last Action Taken: Amended bill passed Education Committee 10-0

SB 434: Financial Aid and Tuition
Description: Provides that a person who: (1) is a nonresident; (2) is a member of the Indiana National Guard; and (3) attends a state educational institution; is eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for undergraduate and graduate courses.
Last Action Taken: Taken: Passed the Senate 50-0

HB 1333: Higher Education Financial Assistance
Description: Provides that the commission for higher education: (1) may consider only the residency status of a student; and (2) may not consider the residency status of the student's parents or legal guardian even if the student is considered a dependent for purposes of federal or state financial aid; for purposes of eligibility for the National Guard tuition supplement program and the National Guard scholarship extension program.
Last Action Taken: Passed the House 95-0

SB 322: Food desert grant program
Description: Food desert grant program. Establishes the food desert grant program (program) within the state department of health (ISDH) to assist new and existing retail businesses in offering fresh and unprocessed foods within a "food desert" (an underserved geographic area where affordable fresh and healthy foods are difficult to obtain, as determined by the ISDH). Provides that a grant awarded under the program may be used to construct a new retail grocery store or to renovate, expand, or upgrade an existing retail business that increases the availability and quality of fresh produce and other healthy foods.
Last Action Taken: Passed the committee on Appropriations 7-3

SB 465: FSSA Matters
Description: Makes multiple changes to the administration of the office of the secretary of family and social services. Repeals the step ahead comprehensive early childhood grant program. Makes changes in the manner that voter registration applications and declinations can be transferred. Removes language that provided an incentive payment to the offices of prosecuting attorneys for the investigation or prosecution of food stamp fraud. Repeals language concerning: (1) civil penalties for Medicaid fraud; and (2) public records reports of Medicaid recipients. Makes technical and conforming changes.
Last Action Taken: Passes the Senate 50-0

SB 133: Protective Orders and Employment
Description: Protective orders and employment. Provides that an employer may not terminate an employee or discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, benefits, or terms and conditions of employment based on the filing by the employee of a petition for a protective order, whether or not the order has been issued.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 31-19

SB 317: Tax Credit for Donations to Eligible Foundations
Description: Tax credit for donations to eligible foundations. Provides a tax credit against adjusted gross income tax liability for donations of money or publicly traded securities to a qualified endowment fund at an eligible community foundation. Defines a "qualified endowment fund" as an individual fund of an eligible community foundation that is: (1) permanent; (2) unrestricted as to the purpose for which it can be spent; and (3) used for the benefit of charitable causes within local communities. Specifies that the amount of the credit is the lesser of $1,000 or 20% of the aggregate amount of donations made during a Tax credit for donations to eligible foundations. Provides a tax credit against adjusted gross income tax liability for donations of money or publicly traded securities to a qualified endowment fund at an eligible community foundation. Defines a "qualified endowment fund" as an individual fund of an eligible community foundation that is: (1) permanent; (2) unrestricted as to the purpose for which it can be spent; and (3) used for the benefit of charitable causes within local communities. Specifies that the amount of the credit is the lesser of $1,000 or 20% of the aggregate amount of donations made during a taxable year.
Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy 8-0
Sunday, February 22, 2015

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