Indiana Earns a D- on Family-Friendly Workplace Policies

The grades are in. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Indiana earned a D- this year for its workplace policies, joining 26 other states that have failed to provide paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, protection for pregnant workers, or other supports for working families. The grades can be found in Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents.

Indiana narrowly missed an "F" thanks to in parts to its law protecting nursing mothers' workplace rights, which states that all nursing mothers who work for employers with 25 or more employees must be provided a place other than a toilet stall to express milk as well as cold storage options. In addition to this, state agencies must provide reasonable paid break time unless this would unduly disrupt operations. Finally, Indiana's grade got a small boost because state workers who earn sick time may also use sick time for the illness or injury of a family member.

Still, Indiana has a long way to go to ensure that working families' needs are met:


In a state where women make up 48% of the state workforce, 837,000 Hoosiers serve as family caregivers, and nearly 3 in 4 children live in families where all parents work, lawmakers need to recognize that paid leave and job protections are essential.

Please join the Indiana Institute for Working Families in calling on lawmakers to value all families through supportive workplace policies. Look for our paid leave coalition website and sign-on letter later this month, and send us your stories to share with legislators. Let's raise our grade by expecting better.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Institute Pleased to Announce Staffing Changes

Institute Pleased to Announce Staffing Changes

by Andrew Bradley

The Indiana Institute for Working Families (Institute) is pleased to announce the hire of Erin Macey, PhD as a full-time Policy Analyst, as well as an updated title for Jessica Fraser as Director of the Institute.

Policy Analyst Erin Macey
Erin Macey joins the Institute full-time as Policy Analyst after serving as Legislative Assistant during the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly. Erin’s portfolio with the Institute will encompass issues of job quality, including paid family leave, sick leave, and early childcare, as well as financial assets and opportunities for working families. Before coming to the Institute, Erin witnessed disparities in access to educational opportunity firsthand as a middle school teacher. Motivated to effect policy change, she returned to graduate school and earned a PhD in education policy from Indiana University-Bloomington. While pursuing her degree, Erin conducted policy analysis for the state, completed program evaluations for a local school district and other local organizations, and supported the provision of technical assistance throughout the Midwest. In her most recent role as a technical assistance coordinator at the Great Lakes Equity Center, Erin developed publications and provided direct, context-driven technical assistance to school districts struggling to provide equal opportunity on the basis of race, gender, and national origin. Prior to her doctorate, Erin earned a B.A. from Williams College in English and Psychology. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Jeff and their four children. Follow Erin at @Erin_INWorkFams on Twitter and email her at emacey[at]incap.org.


Jessica Fraser has been given the updated title of Director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families, to better reflect her leadership of the Institute since 2012. Jessica has been with the Institute since 2008 and was promoted to Program Manager in 2012. In addition to overseeing the Institute’s research and policy work, Jessica serves as co-chair of the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition and sits on the National Skills Coalition’s National Advisory Panel on Postsecondary Education, receiving NSC’s national Skills Champion award in 2015. She also sits on the Indiana Career Council’s Implementation Taskforce, and was nominated to a two-year term on the State Workforce Innovation Council by Governor Mike Pence through 2017. Before joining the Institute, she was a researcher for the Service Employees International Union, Local 3. Jessica earned her B.A. in Political Science from St. Mary’s College, and her M.A. in Political Science from Ball State University. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Michael and their two children. Follow Jessica at @JessicaDFraser on Twitter and email her at jfraser[at]incap.org.

Please help us welcome Erin to her new role and congratulate Jessica on her updated title!
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Indiana Needs to Study Problem of Low-Income Hoosiers Suspended from Driving


By Andrew Bradley
contact: abradley@incap.org


Do you know a low-income Hoosier family or employer that has been affected by suspended driver's licenses? On Wednesday May 25th, Indiana's Legislative Council will choose from over two dozen topics for study committees to work on during the summer. One of those issues was adopted unanimously by the House in HR 40, "that the Legislative Council is urged to assign to the appropriate study committee the topic of suspension and reinstatement of driver's licenses for those who are indigent". A recent report and guest blog post found a majority of Indiana’s suspended motorists have lost their licenses, "not for OWIs or habitually reckless driving, but for a variety of offenses unrelated to driving safety", resulting in hundreds of thousands of low-income Hoosiers without access to transportation for non-safety reasons. Meanwhile, reinstatement fees for some of these offenses have increased over 200% just in the past two years, creating a self-defeating cycle. And while Indiana doesn't yet have all the data or a remedy in place, we do know the problem is growing for low-income families and employers who increasingly demand a job-ready workforce.

However, due to time and resource constraints, the Council will not choose every topic that was assigned or urged by the Legislature, and that's where YOU come in. Please read the letter below and take a moment to contact the Legislative Council including Rep. Brian Bosma (Chair) and Sen. David Long (Vice Chair) to urge them to study the causes, effects, and solutions to driver's license suspensions for the indigent, because having hundreds of thousands of low-income Hoosiers without access to reliable transportation harms Indiana's families, employers, and our economy.

May 23, 2016

Speaker Brian C. Bosma
Chair, Legislative Council
Statehouse
200 W. Washington St., Rm. 404
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Re: House Resolution 40: Urging the Legislative Council to assign the topic of the suspension and reinstatement of driver’s licenses for those who are indigent

Dear Speaker Bosma:
In 2014 the General Assembly enacted legislation aiming to reduce the number of Hoosier motorists with suspended driver’s licenses. House Bill 1279, which took effect on January 1, 2015, eliminated certain mandatory license suspensions for non-traffic offenses and created a “specialized driving privilege” program. 
During the same legislative session, lawmakers enacted House Bill 1059. Under the law, reinstatement fees for persons suspended while driving without proof of insurance rose dramatically, in some cases as much as 233 percent. These costs are often prohibitively expensive and may prevent the restoration of driving privileges indefinitely, even for those who can secure the requisite insurance coverage.
For many low-income Hoosiers—a majority of whom reside in either central cities or rural areas—the growing suburbanization of jobs and the lack of reliable public transportation create significant barriers to maintaining employment. State policies that authorize driver’s license suspensions for non-moving violations, combined with prohibitively-expensive reinstatement fees, exacerbate these barriers, preventing many from becoming economically self-sufficient.
Beyond the cost to the individual, current state policies are counterproductive for businesses. Employers in Hamilton County, for example, have struggled to find a sufficient number of job applicants in recent years despite the growing need for their services, especially in the hospitality and retail industry. Experts attribute this problem to the lack of transportation, among other reasons.[1] And each time an employee loses his or her job from lack of transportation, employers absorb the cost of re-hiring and re-training. This becomes an unnecessary expense for the state as well: payment of unemployment insurance to a former employee who would otherwise have remained on the job.
Finally, a growing body of evidence suggests that states encounter low rates of collection as they increasingly rely on fines and fees without taking into account the offender’s ability to pay.[2] In early 2014, the Indiana BMV reported a total of $131 million in unpaid driver’s license reinstatement fees. The enhanced reinstatement fees under House Bill 1059 were expected to bring in an additional $17.7 million in annual revenue starting in 2015. Actual revenue generated came to only $9.8 million. Although a modest increase over the previous year, the amount fell far short of fiscal projections—nearly $8 million short.
For these reasons, we strongly urge the Legislative Council to assign the topic of the suspension and reinstatement of driver’s licenses for those who are indigent to study committee this summer.
Respectfully,
Professor Fran Quigley
Autumn James, J.D.
Ryan Schwier, J.D.
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Health and Human Rights Clinic

Jessica Fraser
Andrew Bradley
Indiana Institute for Working Families

KEY FINDINGS OF RECENT REPORT

A recent report published by the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law examines these issues in greater detail.[3] Among the report’s key findings include the following:

·         Of the estimated 420,000 suspended motorists in Indiana, a majority have lost their licenses for a variety of offenses unrelated to driving safety.
·         Non-driving-related offenses include, among others: unpaid traffic tickets, bouncing checks, truancy, fuel theft, failure to show proof of insurance, failure to pay child support, controlled substance violations, and graffiti.
·         More than than 216,000 Hoosiers have suspended driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic fines, a number roughly proportional to the total populations of South Bend and Evansville combined.
·         Current state policies are counterproductive for businesses and generate unnecessary expenses for the state.
·         In early 2014, the BMV reported a total of $131 million in unpaid driver’s license reinstatement fees.
·         In 2014 the Indiana Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis projected an additional $17,700,000 in annual revenue from increased license reinstatement fees starting FY 2015. Actual revenue generated came to only $9,788,770—nearly $8 million short.[4]
·         The 2016 BMV omnibus bill, signed into law March 24, 2016, preserves the status quo for both for driver’s license suspensions and reinstatement fees.[5]


[1] Lindsey Erdody, Retailers, Restaurants Struggle to Find Staff in North ‘Burbs, Indpls Business J. (Nov. 7, 2015), http://www.ibj.com/articles/55686-retail-restaurants-struggleto-find-staff-in-northern-suburbs.
[2] Council of Economic Advisors, Fines, Fees, and Bail: Payments in the Criminal Justice System that Disproportionately Impact the Poor 4-5 (Dec. 2015), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/1215_cea_fine_fee_bail_issue_brief.pdf.
[3] Ryan T. Schwier & Autumn James, IU McKinney School of Law, Roadblock to Economic Independence: How Driver’s License Suspension Policies in Indiana Impede Self-Sufficiency, Burden State Government & Tax Public Resources (2016), available at https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/practice/clinics/_docs/DL_Rpt_2-1-16.pdf.
[4] See Ind. Office of Fiscal & Management Analysis, Fiscal Impact Statement Related to H.R. 1059, at 2 (2014) (estimating Motor Vehicle Highway Account revenue at $11.7M per year, with the remainder to be distributed to the Financial Responsibility Compliance Verification Fund). See also DL Report, supra, at 11-13.
[5] See H.R. 1087, 119th Gen. Assemb., 2d Reg. Sess. (Ind. 2016) (enacted).

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Indiana's Turn to #LeadonLeave

By Erin Macey
Contact: emacey@incap.org

Recovery from a C-section: six weeks. Stroke rehabilitation: months. The ability to bond with a newborn, care for a recovering spouse, or sit at the bedside of a dying parent without worrying about lost wages: priceless. On June 6th, the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2016 Paid Leave Analysis Grant Program will accept applications from state, county, or local agencies seeking to study how best to implement a statewide system of paid family leave. Indiana should apply. It’s an opportunity too vital to Hoosiers’ well-being to miss.




Paid family leave is, in essence, an insurance plan for an employee’s most valuable asset: his wages. When a qualifying event occurs – a parent enters hospice or a baby is born, for example – the employee can file for wage replacement during his or her leave of absence. Many employees are already entitled to unpaid leave during these events through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but these unpaid absences can take a serious toll on a family’s financial well-being or on the bottom line of a company that continues to pay its employee through a difficult time. 
In the United States, paid family leave programs are as unique as the states implementing them. New York is the most recent to create a program; it will soon offer 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with an infant, care for a seriously ill family member, or cover for a family member called to active military service. Massachusetts has proposed legislation that will require employers to fund family leave and temporary disability insurance, while other states fund their programs entirely through a small employee payroll deduction. States vary on how much of an individual’s wages they will replace as well; for example, California formerly offered only 55% of an individual’s wages up to a ceiling, but recently changed to a progressive scale topping out at 70% for low-income families, who couldn’t afford to take the leave at lower wage replacement levels.

If Indiana is serious about supporting all Hoosiers and attracting and retaining talent, paid leave is a no-brainer. Many of Indiana’s larger employers already offer it and could see cost reductions from participating in a state-administered plan, while small businesses that currently cannot afford to offer paid leave on their own could benefit from buying in to a larger pool.  In fact, under a paid family leave program, businesses won’t be required to fund an employee’s wages while the employee is on leave; instead, the business can use the freed-up funds to hire a temporary replacement. This doesn’t even factor in the many benefits to families and the state, including increased breastfeeding rates, decreased need for public assistance, and the priceless gift of the ability to be present during life’s most important moments.
Please join the Indiana Institute for Working Families in calling on Indiana to capitalize on this grant opportunity. Engaging in a careful study of other paid leave programs and Indiana’s distinct needs will enable us to craft smart legislation that will successfully cover all families and businesses during the inevitable times when we must place our work lives on hold to live out our Hoosier family values. Encourage Indiana and your city and county to apply at: www.dol.gov/wb/media/paidleavegrants.htm
Monday, May 16, 2016

Miss or Make? How well did the General Assembly perform for working families in 2016?


by Andrew Bradley

Since the General Assembly left town to make room for the Big Ten basketball tournament, it seems appropriate to take a March Madness-style look at their record for working Hoosier families this session. At the beginning of the year, the Indiana Institute for Working Families drew up a gameplan of low- or no-cost policy options that would help restore economic opportunity for the more than 1 in 3 Hoosiers who live below economic self-sufficiency. We’ve been keeping track of legislation affecting working families all season. So what was the Assembly’s shooting percentage?

Session tipped off with a proposal to protect Hoosier jobs and skills through a ‘work-sharing’ program. Nearly 30 states successfully use similar programs, and the proposal had bipartisan support and backing from the unlikely duo of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana AFL-CIO. Yet even during a session when large layoffs were announced by Carrier & UTEC and we learned that Indiana is ranked #2 in the proportion of job losses due to Trans-Pacific Partnership-related imbalances, Indiana failed to even take a vote on work-sharing. MISS.

On the rebound, the Assembly made a slam dunk by expanding the state’s successful Individual Development Account program, which matches low-income Hoosiers’ savings toward a financial asset. With legislation captained by Senator Mark Messmer, IDAs will be able to be used to purchase vehicles for work or adult education, or for owner-occupied home rehab. In addition, IDA program eligibility will increase from 175% to 200% of the federal poverty level, better aligning with what it takes to be self-sufficient in Indiana. MAKE.

But the Assembly missed twice when given the chance to make Indiana’s safety net more responsive to poverty stuck at high levels since the recession. The legislature balked at eliminating the “asset test” for families qualifying for SNAP (nutrition assistance) despite extensive research and 36 states’ experience that asset limits are counterproductive. Similarly, another bill to reduce recidivism and impoverishment by lifting the lifetime SNAP ban after drug convictions failed. MISS and MISS.

A better shot came when the Assembly passed HB 1248, including a provision to extend eligibility for the EARN Indiana work-study program to part-time adult students. These work-based learning opportunities will help adults get the inside track to good-paying jobs, and will team up well with Indiana’s new YouCanGoBack.org initiative for adults to complete degrees and credentials.  MAKE.

While the Institute recommended legislation for fairer payday lending payment plans and truth-in-lending rules, the Assembly narrowly avoided going in the opposite direction with dangerous new long-term payday loan products that commentators called "sanctioned exploitation" at "loan shark rates". While the proposed new loans were blocked, stopping a turnover isn’t the same as making a bucket. MISS.

As the clock wound down, the Assembly decided to take another look at research showing that Indiana has over 420,000 driver license suspensions, over half for non-safety reasons. They recommended a summer study of suspensions & reinstatements for the indigent. Let’s call that a FREE THROW.

But not every play was in the gameplan. Indiana took a great shot with SB301, which will provide data to better align education and skills training with labor market and wage outcomes. The Assembly also took some unnecessarily bad shots against working families’ interests. With SB20, Indiana becomes the first state to prevent communities from finding solutions to the problems of ‘just-in-time’ scheduling for their own citizens. The Senate also failed to even vote on proposals for a voluntary fair scheduling program and family leave insurance. And the House committed a couple of flagrant fouls when they twice tried to insert a regressive tax combo into a road funding plan that would’ve hiked taxes for the bottom 80% of Hoosiers while gifting cuts up to $1,216 for the highest earners. That’s MAKE, MISS, MISS, MISS, and unneeded foul trouble against working families.

At the buzzer, the General Assembly scored a few points but passed on too many plays to make systemic improvements for Hoosier families, going 3 for 10 with just a .300 shooting percentage. Our home team should take the summer to study and practice the fundamentals so they’re ready to better execute a strategy for working families next season.

Photo credit: By Washington and Jefferson College [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons goo.gl/eBJrbH 
Sunday, March 13, 2016

Inside the Statehouse - The Final Tally


It is a rare bill that survives the harrowing gauntlet of committee hearings and sessions in the Indiana General Assembly. Those that do manage to secure the necessary majority votes in both chambers are then signed by both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate before traveling to the Governor's desk (and, typically, the Attorney General's to check for legality). If the Governor pens his name, the bill becomes law. A bill can also become law if the Governor takes no action for seven days. However, if the Governor vetoes, the bill can only become law if the House and Senate override the veto by majority votes.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families began this session with six low- or no-cost policy reforms that would support Hoosiers seeking economic self-sufficiency. This final update describes the outcomes of IIWF's efforts in these six areas, as well as a report on the fates of all the bills we tracked this session:


ALLOW INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE VEHICLES FOR WORK OR EDUCATION: SB 325, which expands the potential uses of Individual Development Accounts to include vehicles for work and adult education and also extends eligibility from 175% of federal poverty level to 200%, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley testified in support of the bill in both the House Committee on Family, Children, and Human Affairs and the Senate Committee on Family & Children Services, noting that nearly a quarter of SNAP recipients and 40,000 recent high school graduates lacked a vehicle, inhibiting access to employment and education.    

OPEN THE EARN INDIANA PROGRAM TO PART-TIME ADULT STUDENTS: An amendment to HB 1248 has changed the definition of "eligible student" for the purposes of the EARN Indiana program, allowing part-time adult students to access this source of financial aid and career-aligned work study. Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley testified before the House and Senate Education Committee that this provision is likely to assist a portion of the 1.3 million Hoosiers who need to improve their skills to climb a career ladder to self-sufficiency.

REDUCE DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS FOR VIOLATIONS NOT RELATED TO SAFETY: Particularly in Indiana, where public transportation is scarce, a driver's license is necessary to secure and maintain employment. However, a majority of the 420,000 Indiana drivers who have had licenses suspended lost their driving privileges for non-safety related offenses, such as outstanding traffic tickets, failure to show proof of insurance, or unpaid child support. As IIWF's blog post on the issue also indicates, rising fees also present a barrier to license reinstatement. Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley publicly thanked Representative Forestal for introducing HR 40 urging the Legislative Council to study the issue of suspensions and reinstatement at the House Roads and Transportation Committee. The resolution passed unanimously.

PROTECT PAYDAY LOAN BORROWERS FROM FALLING INTO DEBT TRAPS: After IIWF and other organizations expressed concerns, Representative Burton transformed HB 1340 from a bill allowing a high-cost long installment loan to a bill promoting a summer study on finance options for low-income borrowers, the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions heard testimony on an amendment allowing a similar product. IIWF issued an action alert and Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified against the new loan, drawing attention not only to the exorbitant interest rate but also the lowered income threshold to qualify for the loans. Fortunately, the amendment was defeated. SB 99, which would require Payday lenders to provide additional information to borrowers and establish a consumer-friendly installment loan option, did not receive a hearing, but IIWF hopes that the summer study will provide an opportunity to encourage further protections for low-income borrowers and to consider alternative options for access to loans.
ELIMINATE THE SNAP ASSET LIMIT TO HELP FAMILIES WEATHER THE SNAP "CLIFF": The Family and Child Services Committee heard testimony on SB 377, which would remove asset limits for SNAP recipients. IIWF Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified in support of the bill and it passed unanimously. However, the Appropriations Committee declined to hear the bill. Families will continue to be ineligible for SNAP benefits if their household has over $2250 dollars in countable assets, making it difficult for them to build the savings necessary to move out of poverty. 

ESTABLISH A WORK-SHARING PROGRAM: Although a number of groups testified in support of work sharing at its hearing on January 19th - including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Institute for Working Families - the questions raised regarding implementation of the program stalled its progress. It never received a vote this session. 


Below, you can read about the fates of all the bills we tracked this legislative session. If you are pleased with Indiana Institute for Working Families' advocacy on behalf of hard-working Hoosiers, please consider making a donation to ensure that these efforts can continue. Subscribe here to be sure you receive these important updates next session, as well as notices of other relevant information and events throughout the year. You can also like the Indiana Institute for Working Families on Facebook  and follow us on Twitter.

The Final Tally

SB 15: Fresh food initiative
Description: Urges the legislative council to assign to an appropriate study committee the topics related to the establishment of a food desert grant and loan program.
Final Outcome: Initially, this bill set up a grant and loan program for businesses operating within food deserts. It was amended in the Commerce & Technology Committee to include non-profits and passed the Senate 37-11. Lacking sufficient support in the House, the bill was amended in committee to propose a summer study on the issue of food deserts. It passed in the House 90-4 and the Senate concurred in the amendments 36-9

SB 20:  Workforce development

Description: Provides that a local governmental unit may not establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employer to provide to an employee who is employed within the jurisdiction of the unit a scheduling policy that exceeds the requirements of federal or state law, rules, or regulations, unless federal or state law provides otherwise.
Final Outcome: In the Pensions and Labor Committee, Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley raised concerns that this bill would hamper local communities efforts to find solutions to the problems of "just-in-time" scheduling, which make it difficult for families to budget and arrange childcare. As this Indianapolis Star article on the issue notes, it is also another in a growing list of state policies that curtail local democracy. The bill was amended to request a summer study on employee misclassification and to expand the pool of individuals who can assist with unemployment insurance claims. It passed both the Senate and House.

SB 76 Military service and Medicaid eligibility
Description: Allows an individual (and the individual's dependent) who is: (1) an active member of the armed services of the United States or the national guard; (2) a legal Indiana resident; (3) assigned for duty or deployed outside Indiana; and (4) eligible for Medicaid waiver services or Medicaid assistance; to maintain Medicaid eligibility and remain on Medicaid waiver waiting lists.
Final Outcome: Passed the Senate unanimously, but did not receive a hearing in the Public Health Committee.

SB 85 Fair Pay in Employment
Description: Provides that: (1) it is an unlawful employment practice to pay wages that discriminate based on sex, race, or national origin for the same or equivalent jobs; and (2) the civil rights commission has jurisdiction for investigation and resolution of complaints of these employment actions.
Final Outcome: Did not receive a hearing in the Pensions and Labor Committee.

SB 99Small loans
Description: This bill would have added transparency requirements for small loans, including the median number of days that a borrower is indebted and the median number of small loans entered into during a calendar year.
Final Outcome:The bill was amended in the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee but did not receive a hearing in the Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee.

SB 129Indiana earned income tax credit
Description: This bill proposed increasing the amount of the Indiana earned income tax credit from 9% to 10% of the federal earned income tax credit.
Final Outcome: The Appropriations Committee did not hear the bill.

SB 130 Eligibility for child care voucher
Description: Provided that beginning October 1, 2016, 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 the greater of 250% of the federal income poverty level or 85% of the state median income for the same size family
Final Outcome: The Committee on Family and Children Services declined to hear the bill.

SB 132 Food stamp assistance after a drug conviction
Description: Would have allowed individuals who were convicted of a drug offense but who were complying with the terms of their parole and who met the income eligibility criteria to access SNAP benefits. Institute Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified in support of the bill in both committee hearings, presenting compelling evidence that individuals with drug felonies experience significant barriers to self-sufficiency and need nutrition assistance.
Final Outcome: Passed the Senate 43-7 and the Committee on Family, Children, and Human Affairs heard testimony, but Chairman Frizzell declined to hold a vote due to the bill's fiscal impact statement.

SB 135 Voter registration and other voting matters
Description: Offered several changes to voting laws, including that a county election board could keep polls open past 6pm or establish satellite locations for early voting by majority vote. Allowed individuals to apply for permanent absentee voter status, to register at the polls, or to use motor vehicle license applications to serve as voter registration. Urged the study of electronic voting. 
Final Outcome: The Committee on Elections declined to hear the bill.

SB 165:  Healthy Indiana Plan
Description: Repeals the prior healthy Indiana plan statutes and makes revisions to the currently operating healthy Indiana plan. Repeals statutes governing the high risk Indiana check-up plan.
Final Outcome: Passed the Senate and House. The conference committee report (compromise bill) passed the Senate 34-16 and the House 65-35.


SB 201 Resident tuition rate at state educational institutions
Description: Provides that an individual, except for certain nonimmigrants, who: (1) attends a high school in Indiana for at least three years; (2) registers as an entering student at or enrolls in a state educational institution not earlier than the fall semester (or its equivalent, as determined by the state educational institution) of the 2015-2016 academic year; and (3) graduates from a high school located in Indiana or receives the equivalent of a high school diploma in Indiana; is eligible for the resident tuition rate beginning in the fall semester of the 2016-2017 academic year.
Final Outcome: The Appropriations Committee did not hear the bill. 

SB 210:  Family leave insurance program 
Description: Requires the department of insurance to establish, not later than January 1, 2017, a family leave insurance program (program) for the purpose of providing benefits to employees who elect to participate in the program. Requires that: (1) the program be voluntary for both employers and employees; (2) both employers and employees make contributions to the program to fund benefits; (3) employee contributions be made by payroll deduction; (4) the benefit eligibility requirements established for the program include, at a minimum, the requirements that qualify an employee for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act; Family leave insurance program.
Final Outcome: The Pensions and Labor Committee heard testimony on the bill, but did not vote. IIWF Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified in support of the bill and IIWF will publish a policy brief on the issue in the next couple of months.

SB 211Minimum wage
Description: Would have increased the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $11.25 an hour.
Final Outcome: The Pensions and Labor Committee did not hear the bill.

SB 212:  Employee work schedules
Description: Requires retailers employing 15 or more employees to provide a good faith estimate of the minimum number of shifts an employee may expect per month and the hours and days when those shifts will generally be scheduled. Requires 14 days notice of work schedules and compensation when an employer changes the schedule after the 14 days notice. Requires an employer to offer part-time employees additional hours before hiring additional part-time employees.
Final Outcome: In spite of compelling testimony in support of the bill by both Senator Tallian, D-Portage, and Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst at IIWF, the bill was held without a vote. Senator Tallian pledged to bring a similar bill to the committee next session.

SB 217 Township assistance payment of electric bills
Description: Allows a township trustee to make an advance deposit of township assistance funds in the township's trustee's account with an electric service provider to pay for a township assistance recipient's electric usage charges as those charges are incurred.
Final Outcome: This bill passed both the Senate and House.

SB 225 Property tax exemption for affordable housing
Description: Allows a township trustee to make an advance deposit of township assistance funds in the township's trustee's account with an electric service provider to pay for a township assistance recipient's electric usage charges as those charges are incurred. 
Final Outcome: This bill passed the Senate but did not receive a hearing in the House.

SB 245 Drug testing of unemployment insurance applicants
Description: Requires individuals who have either been discharged from employment because of unlawful use of a controlled substance or who have been employed in an occupation for which drug testing is regularly conducted to undergo a drug test as a condition of eligibility for unemployment benefits. 
Final Outcome: The Committee on Pensions and Labor heard testimony on the bill. Due to significant concerns about the ability of the bill to achieve its stated aim, the Committee Chair held the bill.

SB 251 Indiana out of school time learning fund
DescriptionEstablishes the out of school time learning advisory board for a three year period
Final Outcome: Passed the Senate and House.

SB 265Sales tax district for healthy food programs
Description: Allows the fiscal body of a county to designate a special food desert district if the district is located in a census tract with low median income and low access to the nearest supermarket as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture in its Food Access Research Atlas. Provides that if a district is designated, an additional 1% sales tax applies to retail transactions within the district. 
Final Outcome: The bill did not receive a hearing.

SB 301: Workforce Development
Description: Requires the department of workforce development (DWD), commission for higher education, Ivy Tech Community College, and regional work councils to use data on expected workforce needs to identify imbalances in the courses and certifications offered and develop recommendations for the career and technical education courses to be offered at high schools.
Final Outcome: Passed the Senate and House.


SB 319Local government common construction wage
Description: Allows the legislative body of a political subdivision to adopt an ordinance requiring the political subdivision to establish a common construction wage for public work projects awarded by the political subdivision, with some exceptions.
Final Outcome: The Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure declined to hear the bill.

SB 320Work ethic certification and grant
Description: Establishes the work ethic certification program under which a student who develops skills necessary for success in higher education or employment receives a work ethic certificate upon graduation. Provides a grant to school corporations in the amount of $200 for each student who received a work ethic certificate in the school year ending in the previous fiscal year.  
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing, but the concept was amended into SB 93.

SB 325: Individual Development Accounts
Description:Expands the allowable uses of IDAs to include purchase of vehicles for work or adult education, and for owner-occupied rehab of homes located in Indiana. Increases from 175% to 200% of the federal income poverty level the maximum annual income that an individual may have to qualify for an account.
Final Outcome: Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst at IIWF, was among several testifying in support of the bill. It passed both chambers unanimously.


SB 333Road funding
Description:
Originally, this bill moved excess reserves from the general fund to the state highway fund. It was amended in the House to include the regressive tax package described by our guest blogger, Lisa Christensen Gee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Final Outcome: Ultimately, the House and Senate passed HB 1001, which will transfer state reserves to both the state highway fund and the local road and bridge matching grant fund. The bill also authorizes counties to impose higher excise and wheel taxes.

SB 341Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility
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.
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing, but SB 377 was heard.

SB 346Prevailing wage
Description:
Among other provisions, Senator Tallian's bill would have required that, whenever the actual costs for the construction of a public improvement are at least $150,000, a contractor or subcontractor shall pay the workers employed in the performance of work for the construction of the public improvement a rate of wages that is not less than the prevailing wage determined by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor.
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing.

SB 369: Minimum wage for certain Indiana employees
Description: After: (1) June 30, 2016, increases the minimum wage paid to certain employees in Indiana from $7.25 to $12.00
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing.

SB 377: Removal of asset limits for SNAP
Description: Requires the division of family resources to: (1) implement within the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program (SNAP) an expanded eligibility category, that does not consider an individual's value of assets in determining SNAP eligibility; and (2) notify USDA of the implementation of expanded categorical eligibility under SNAP.
Final Outcome: Jessica Fraser, Program Manager for IIWF, testified in support of the bill, noting that by eliminating the asset limit, Indiana would encourage savings and be better able to help families develop good saving behavior. Asset limits force families to spend down longer-term savings in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits, which creates a cycle of reliance on those benefits. While the bill passed the Committee on Family and Children Services, it was not heard by the Appropriations Committee.

SB 400: Employee misclassification
Description: Urges the legislative council to assign to the interim study committee on employment and labor or another appropriate interim study committee during the 2016 legislative interim the topics of employee misclassification, payroll fraud, and the use of independent contractor status.
Last Action Taken: This bill was amended and renamed in committee, shifting the purpose from establishing a presumption that employers correctly classified independent contractors to proposing a summer study committee on the issue of employee classification. It was later amended into SB 20.

HB 1001: Road funding
Description: This bill proposed an increase in Indiana's gas and cigarette taxes and a decrease in income taxes. The effect of this package would have been a net increase in taxes for the bottom 80% of Hoosier taxpayers and a net return of approximately $1200 for the top 20%. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed the tax provisions.
Final Outcome:This bill was heard in conference committee and a compromise bill transferring reserve funds to both the state highway fund and the local bridges and roads matching grant passed both the House and Senate.

HB 1014:  Work sharing unemployment benefits
Description: Establishes a work sharing unemployment insurance program, which would pay unemployment benefits to employees whose hours and wages have been reduced.
Final Outcome: The Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions heard testimony on the bill, but declined to vote.

HB 1046: Sales of bullion or currency
Description: Provides a sales tax exemption for transactions involving the sale of: (1) coins that are permitted investments by an individual retirement account under federal law; (2) bullion that is a permitted investment by an individual retirement account under federal law; or (3) legal tender. Authorizes the secretary of state to issue a temporary registration to a foreign entity that wishes to sell precious metals bullion or currency at a trade fair or coin show in Indiana and is not otherwise lawfully authorized to conduct business in Indiana.    
Final Outcome: As this bill moved through each chamber, a number of working-family-friendly sales tax and earned income tax credit amendments were proposed but failed to garner sufficient support. The bill passed the House and Senate.  

HB 1050: Sales tax holiday
Description: Provides a sales and use tax exemption each year beginning on the second Friday of August 2016 and August 2017 through the following Sundays (sales tax holiday) for the following items: (1) Clothing, if the sales price does not exceed $100. (2) A school supply, school art supply, or school instructional material, if the sales price does not exceed $15.
Final Outcome: The bill did not receive a hearing.    

HB 1054: Garnishment of state tax refunds
Description: Provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish the part of a state tax refund not attributable to the state earned income tax credit otherwise due to the debtor
Last Action Taken: This bill survived its first committee hearing, but was not taken up in Ways and Means.

HB 1072: Overtime compensation
Description: Provides that certain employees must be paid compensation for employment in certain circumstances at a rate not less than 1.5 times the regular rate at which the employee is employed and, under certain circumstances, not less than two times the regular rate at which the employee is employed.
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing.  

HB 1077: Healthy food financing program 
Description: Establishes the healthy food financing fund (fund) and healthy food financing program (program) under the administration of the Indiana housing and community development authority (IHCDA). Provides that the purpose of the fund is to provide financing in the form of loans or grants for projects that increase the availability of fresh and nutritious food in underserved communities.
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing.  

HB 1078: Supplemental nutrition assistance program
Description: Allows individuals convicted of a drug offense to be eligible to participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program under the federal opt out option.
Final Outcome: The Senate version of this bill received a hearing in the House, but neither HB 1078 nor SB 132 received a vote in the Family Children and Human Affairs Committee.  

HB 1139: Paid sick and safe leave 
Description: Provides that certain employers shall provide paid sick and safe leave to employees, accrued at the rate of one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours of employment. Establishes conditions to entitlement to sick and safe leave. Provides that the commissioner of labor shall enforce paid sick and safe leave for employees.    
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a committee vote.  

HB 1194: Prepaid college tuition 
Description: Establishes the Indiana prepaid college program. Requires the Indiana education savings authority to administer the program. Provides for the advance payment of tuition (including registration fees) at a community college or state university. Provides that the tax credit for 529 education savings plans includes money contributed to the prepaid college program.
Final Outcome: The Education Committee declined to vote on the bill.   

HB 1248: Higher education matters
Description: Among other provisions, this bill amends the definition of "eligible student" for purposes of the EARN Indiana program to include adult, part-time students.
Final Outcome: Passed both chambers unanimously.

HB 1265: Indiana minimum wage
Description: Provides that employers that are subject to the minimum wage provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are subject to the Indiana minimum wage. (Current law provides that employers that are subject to the minimum wage provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are not subject to the Indiana minimum wage.) Provides that the Indiana minimum wage is inapplicable to employees who provide companionship services to the aged and infirm.
Final Outcome: The Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions did not hold a vote on the bill.  

HB 1328: Paid sick leave for certain employees
Description: Provides that certain employers shall provide paid sick leave to employees of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of employment, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave a year. Provides that the commissioner of labor shall enforce paid sick leave for employees and shall adopt rules to implement paid sick leave.    
Final Outcome: The Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions did not hear the bill.  

HB 1340: Long term small loans 
Description: The initial bill proposed that lenders be allowed to offer a long term small loan charging 20% interest per month on the original principal of the loan, with loan values of up to $2000. This was converted to a summer study in the House Committee on Financial Institutions and passed the House. As the bill crossed chambers, an amendment offering a slightly less outrageous small loan was proposed. After several hours of testimony, the Senate  Insurance & Financial Institutions Committee voted down the amendment. IIWF Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified in the Senate committee hearing that the product would likely trap more low-income borrowers in a cycle of debt.     
Final Outcome: The bill recommending a summer study passed both the House and Senate.

HB 1343: Income tax deduction for dependents
Description: Provides that a taxpayer may claim the $1,500 additional dependent deduction for a dependent child for whom the taxpayer is the legal guardian.    
Final Outcome: Ways and Means did not hear the bill.
HB 1344:  Unemployment insurance Description: Abolishes the Indiana unemployment compensation board and transfers the board's duties to the department of workforce development and provides that not later than the fourth week after the week an individual begins receiving benefits, the individual must visit and receive an orientation to the services available through a one stop center in order to maintain eligibility to receive benefits.
Final Outcome: Passed the House and Senate.

HB 1397: Education loan information 
Description: Representative Austin's bill would have required postsecondary educational institutions to provide information regarding: (1) federal education loans in all printed and online financial aid materials issued or distributed by the institution and with private loan applications provided or made available by the institution; and (2) private loan information with any private loan information included as part of the institution's financial aid or loan package and with any list of private loan lenders provided by the institution. It also required that this information be provided to the Commission for Higher Education.
Final Outcome: This bill did not receive a hearing in the Education Committee.  
 
 


Please note that the information above is current as of March 10, 2016.  

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