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

Inside the Statehouse: Week 6













This week, we're closed for Presidents Day, but the Senate Family & Children Services Committee will hear a bill to eliminate SNAP Asset Limits, and later in the week, the House Education Committee will hear HB 1072 on proprietary educational institutions. 

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 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: First Reading: referred to Committee on Family & Children Services
Hearing Location & Time: Monday February 16, 10:30AM, Senate Chamber
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 in SNAP.​See our prepared testimony here.

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: First Reading: referred to Committee on Ways and Means
Hearing Location & Time: Monday February 16, 9AM, Room 404
 

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: Reassigned to committee on Public Health
Hearing Location & Time: Monday February 16, 10:30AM, House Chamber
                                   Wednesday February 18, 3:30PM, House Chamber Amend & Vote


HB 1072: Proprietary Educational Institutions
Description: Proprietary educational institutions. Provides that a postsecondary proprietary educational institution that: (1) is domiciled and has its principal offices and the majority of its operations in Indiana; (2) provides an organized two year or longer program of collegiate level classes that are directly creditable toward a baccalaureate degree; and (3) is authorized to conduct business by the board for proprietary education and is accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education; is an approved postsecondary educational institution for purposes of higher education awards and receives awards at the same level as state educational institutions.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to Committee on Education
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 17, 8:30AM, Room 156-C
                                            Wednesday February 18, 8:30PM, Room 16-C Amend & Vote


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: First Reading: referred to Committee on Education
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 17, 8:30AM, Room 156-C
                                         Wednesday February 18, 8:30PM, Room 16-C Amend & Vote


SB 436: State and Local Taxation

Description: 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 #4 passed the committee by Consent. The amendment does various changes; deletes the proposed changes to the minimum valuation floor for Pool 3 and Pool 4 equipment, specifies the method of valuing certain special purpose properties and sale-leaseback properties.
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 17, 8:30AM, Room 431


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 committee on Ways and Means unanimously. 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 129: Eligibility for Child Care Voucher
Description: Eligibility for child care voucher. Provides that a child who is otherwise eligible for participation in the federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher program: (1) is eligible to participate in the program if the child's family income does not exceed 200% of the federal income poverty level; and (2) may continue to participate unless the child's family income exceeds 250% of the federal income poverty level. Makes an appropriation.
Last Action Taken: There were no votes taken. 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 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: The Committee concerned Amendments 3 and 8, both passed by consent. The bill passed the committee 9-1.
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 416: Employee's Right to Scheduled Employment
Description: Employee's right to scheduled employment. Requires an employer to post a schedule of hours and days to be worked by certain employees not less than seven days prior to the first day that the employee is scheduled to work during that pay period.
Last Action Taken: First hearing in the Committee on Pensions and Labor, no votes were taken. The
Institute testified in support of the bill.
Our Position: SUPPORT: Part-time work is often short-term with unpredictable schedules and scarce benefits. A growing concern among part-time work in the U.S. is the practice of "just-in-time scheduling" - employers giving little-to-no notice of work schedules, or adjusting to customer demand flows by changing employees' hours on the fly. These practices make it extremely difficult for workers to budget or plan, as their potential income have change dramatically from week to week. In the United States, most workers are paid hourly. The University of Chicago found that 41 percent of early-career workers (26 to 32 years old) know their schedules no more than a week in advance-and that rate is even higher for minorities and working parents. With inadequate hours and often limited ability to budget or plan, it is perhaps not surprising that poverty rates are exceptionally high among part-time workers. Nationally, nearly 75 percent of children with at least one parent who works part-time are in poverty or are considered low-income.


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: Passed Committee on Education and Career Development 10-0
 

SB 271: College and Career Counseling Grant
Description: Establishes the college and career readiness certificate grant to assist school guidance counselors in obtaining a college and career readiness certificate from an approved postsecondary educational institution. Establishes the college and career readiness certificate grant fund. Makes an appropriation.
Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Education and Career Development 10-0
 

HB 1262: Return and Complete Grant
Description: Return and complete grant. Requires the commission for higher education (commission), in consultation with postsecondary educational institutions, to adopt, not later than September 1, 2015, guidelines for postsecondary educational institutions concerning the administration of the return and complete project. Requires the commission, in collaboration with the postsecondary educational institutions, to compile, not later than September 1, 2015, information that includes the following: (1) The names of return and complete students.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education Committee 10-0


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: Passed House 78-16


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 House 98-0


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 #4 passed the committee by Consent. The amendment does various changes; deletes the proposed changes to the minimum valuation floor for Pool 3 and Pool 4 equipment, specifies the method of valuing certain special purpose properties and sale-leaseback properties.


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 Committee on Ways and Means 23-0


HB 1469: Wage Payment and Wage Assignment
Description: Provides that an employer who fails to make timely payment of wages to an employee 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: Passed House 69-29


HB 1186: Unemployment Insurance
Description: 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. Removes language that requires the extra surcharge amount be credited to each employer's experience account in proportion to the amount of the surcharge the employer paid. Removes language establishing a six year limitations period for the repayment of unemployment benefit overpayments received because of knowingly making a false statement or representation of a material fact or knowingly failing to disclose a material fact. Removes language establishing a three year limitations period for the repayment or unemployment benefit overpayments received because of a failure to report wages or the receipt of deductible income during a week in which benefits were received.
Last Action Taken: Passed the House 69-24


SB 356: Work Ethic Certification and Grants
Description: Work ethic certification and grants. 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.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 37-13


HB 1457: Higher Education
Description: Permits the board of trustees of a state educational institution that has a research intensive campus to directly hold equity in a private entity under certain conditions. Permits a public benefit corporation to merge with a state educational institution, without court approval, if the public benefit corporation is controlled by the state educational institution. Permits the Indiana economic development corporation to designate a university innovation district for a research intensive campus in which the incremental income taxes from employees working in the district are distributed to the research intensive campus for dedicated purposes. Provides that a certified technology park that is associated with a research intensive campus may be reclassified as a university innovation district under certain conditions.
Last Action Taken: Passed Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development 11-1


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 committee on Health and Provider Services 11-0


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Keeping Hoosiers on the Job: The Best Bang for Indiana's Buck


By Derek Thomas

The best way to stimulate the economy is by keeping workers on the job through work sharing. According to Moody’s Analytics, the return is greater than infrastructure investments or tax cuts.

A work sharing program – available in 28 states – is a voluntary and cost-equivalent alternative to traditional unemployment insurance that allows an employer to have the option of reducing the hours and wages instead of laying off a portion of its workforce to match decreased demand. The reduction in wages would be supplemented by a portion of UI benefits—typically equal to half of lost wages. 

The American Enterprise Institute's Kevin Hasset said it best: "Instead of unemployment benefits that effectively pay people for not working, we would be paying people for working shorter hours."

This alternative better reflects the ebb and flow of our closely connected 21st century economy than traditional unemployment benefits – particularly for a state such as Indiana that relies heavily on manufacturing exports. According to Fitch's Rating Agency "[Indiana's manufacturing-concentrated] economy… exposes the state to economic downturns."  This means that the one-fourth of manufacturing jobs in Indiana that depend on exports will continue to be impacted by the uncertainty of a global economy.

The impact of these losses isn’t lost on most Hoosiers; despite a relatively strong rebound, manufacturing employment is still down nearly 25,000 jobs since the recession started, and 150,000 jobs since the year 2000.

While it’s a relatively small dent, our analysis shows that had policymakers had the foresight to implement work sharing prior to the Great Recession, anywhere from 1,862 - 9,984 Hoosier mid- to high-wage jobs – such as manufacturing – could have been saved from 2007 through 2010.

The estimated number of jobs saved is based on take up rates from a recent Upjohn Institute report. For a range of take up scenarios, we applied the U.S. average and Rhode Island’s take up rate. We applied Washington State’s distribution of industries to determine our distribution (cited in our report on page 20).

Because work sharing is a win-win-win, it’s harder to find a program with wider bipartisan support from economists, governors and state legislators. In Indiana, work sharing enjoys support from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana AFL-CIO, employers such as Subaru Indiana and lawmakers from both political parties (federal and state).

It’s easy to see why:

The employer wins by reducing the costs of recruitment, hiring, and training workers once normal business resumes. It also affords employers greater control over UI charges by reducing schedules only as required by production demand in any given week. As the state grapples with skilling-up our workforce, retaining skilled workers is why Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signed work-sharing legislation in July 2012.

The employee wins by maintaining wages, health benefits and avoiding the ranks of the unemployed. That’s why Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, signed legislation. “Instead of getting a pink slip during an economic downturn, workers now have an opportunity to stay on the job and receive unemployment benefits for the hours they lose,” Walker said.

Finally, the state wins by avoiding the secondary job losses – and the accompanying revenue losses – that inevitably result from layoffs.

During the Great Recession, Hoosier families saw some of the greatest increases in poverty and child poverty, and some of the largest declines in household income than most of the nation, and most of the time, all neighboring states. How we fare during the next recession depends on foresight today.

Since World War II, economic expansions have lasted an average of 58 months – the last three have lasted 95 months. After more than three years of debate, including multiple study committees and the lost opportunity that was millions of dollars in federal support, we are now 68 months into our post-recession economic expansion without a plan to protect jobs when the next, inevitable, recession hits. 

HB1066 deserves a hearing.
Thursday, February 12, 2015

Inside the Statehouse: Week 5













This week, both the House and the Senate have bills (HB 1616 and SB 129) to smooth out the child care benefit-cliffGovernor Pence's tax-plan (HB 1349 and SB438) includes provisions to recouple Indiana's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the federal EITC, and; the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee will take on the increasingly volatile schedules of low-wage work by debating a bill that would give workers the right to scheduled employment.

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: Passed committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs 13-0. 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.
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 10, 10AM, Room 404

SB 129: Eligibility for Child Care Voucher
Description: Eligibility for child care voucher. Provides that a child who is otherwise eligible for participation in the federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher program: (1) is eligible to participate in the program if the child's family income does not exceed 200% of the federal income poverty level; and (2) may continue to participate unless the child's family income exceeds 250% of the federal income poverty level. Makes an appropriation.
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 February 9, 10:30AM, Senate Chamber

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: Had first committee hearing last week. The committee discussed amendment # 3 to the bill. This amendment deletes the proposed change specifying that the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) used for purposes of calculating the Indiana EITC is the same as the federal EITC allowed under the Internal Revenue Code. The Institute testified to urge the committee to reinstate the recoupling provision in the bill and voiced opposition amendment # 3.
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.
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 10, 9AM, Room 431

HB 416: Employee's Right to Scheduled Employment
Description: Employee's right to scheduled employment. Requires an employer to post a schedule of hours and days to be worked by certain employees not less than seven days prior to the first day that the employee is scheduled to work during that pay period.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to Committee on Pensions and Labor
Our Position: SUPPORT- Part-time work is often short-term with unpredictable schedules and scarce benefits. A growing concern among part-time work in the U.S. is the practice of “just-in-time scheduling” – employers giving little-to-no notice of work schedules, or adjusting to customer demand flows by changing employees’ hours on the fly. These practices make it extremely difficult for workers to budget or plan, as their potential income have change dramatically from week to week. In the United States, most workers are paid hourly. The University of Chicago found that 41 percent of early-career workers (26 to 32 years old) know their schedules no more than a week in advance—and that rate is even higher for minorities and working parents. With inadequate hours and often limited ability to budget or plan, it is perhaps not surprising that poverty rates are exceptionally high among part-time workers. Nationally, nearly 75 percent of children with at least one parent who works part-time are in poverty or are considered low-income.
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday February 11, 9AM, Room 233

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: First Reading: referred to Committee on Ways and Means
Hearing Location & Time: Monday February 9, 10AM, Room 404

HB 1262: Return and Complete Grant
Description: Return and complete grant. Requires the commission for higher education (commission), in consultation with postsecondary educational institutions, to adopt, not later than September 1, 2015, guidelines for postsecondary educational institutions concerning the administration of the return and complete project. Requires the commission, in collaboration with the postsecondary educational institutions, to compile, not later than September 1, 2015, information that includes the following: (1) The names of return and complete students. (2) The remaining state financial aid eligibility and current address of each return and complete student.
Last Action Taken: First Reading: referred to Committee on Education

Hearing Location & Time: Thursday February 12, 830AM, Room 156-C

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: First Reading: referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday February 10, 9AM, RM 431


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 Health and Provider Services
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday February 11, 9AM, Room 431

Last Week
HB 1349: Various Tax Matters
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 Acton Taken: The Institute testified to urge the committee to recouple the EITC with the federal guidelines.
Our Position: SUPPORT: 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.
 

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 approve.
Last Action Taken: Passed Education committee 11-0

HB 1222: STEM Pathway Network
Description: Establishes the STEM pathways program to: (1) establish education support networks; (2) provide curricular material and support to schools; (3) provide professional development to educators; (4) evaluate schools and teachers; and (5) organize leadership support and professional development; in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Establishes the STEM pathways fund to carry out the purposes of the STEM pathways programs. Makes an appropriation.
Last Action Taken:
 

SB 271: College and Career Counseling Grant
Description: Establishes the college and career readiness certificate grant to assist school guidance counselors in obtaining a college and career readiness certificate from an approved postsecondary educational institution. Establishes the college and career readiness certificate grant fund. Makes an appropriation.
Last Action: Taken: Heard public testimony on this bill from many organization in support of this bill. There will be a amendment to fix some technical concerns.

HB 1469: Wage Payment and Wage Assignment
Description: Provides that an employer who fails to make timely payment of wages to an employee 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: Passed amended bill 6-1

SB 259: STEM Education
Description: Establishes the dual credit STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) associate degree pilot program.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 50-0
Our Position: SUPPORT- We support any effort to increase awareness of the great opportunities that exist in high-wage, high-demand occupations. Such efforts are bound to improve the under-supply of STEM credentials coming out of Indiana's talent supply pipeline, ultimately boosting both Indiana's workforce and its economy.

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 Education committee 11-0

HB 1186: Unemployment Insurance
Description: 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. Removes language that requires the extra surcharge amount be credited to each employer's experience account in proportion to the amount of the surcharge the employer paid. Removes language establishing a six year limitations period for the repayment of unemployment benefit overpayments received because of knowingly making a false statement or representation of a material fact or knowingly failing to disclose a material fact. Removes language establishing a three year limitations period for the repayment or unemployment benefit overpayments received because of a failure to report wages or the receipt of deductible income during a week in which benefits were received.
Last Action Taken: Passed committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions 7-4

HB 1497: Reemployment Services for Unemployment Recipients
Description: Provides that reemployment services and reemployment and eligibility assessment activities provided to an unemployed individual by the department of workforce development may include job skills assessments as needed.
Last Action Taken: Passed House 77-17

SB 133: Protective Orders and Employment
Description: Protective orders and employment. Provides that: (1) an individual is not subject to disqualification from eligibility for unemployment benefits because of discharge from the individual's employment due to circumstances directly related to the individual's filing of a petition for a protective order; and (2) 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: Amended bill passed the Pension and Labor committee 7-4.

SB 356: Work Ethic Certification and Grants
Description: Work ethic certification and grants. 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.
Last Action Taken: The committee considered amendment #3 which deletes the part of the bill that gives grants to schools for each student who receives the work ethic certificate. The amendment passed by consent. The amended bill passed the appropriations 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. Provides that certain: (1) veterans; (2) Purple Heart recipients; and (3) persons who serve on active military duty; are eligible to pay the resident tuition rate for graduate courses.
Last Action Taken: Bill passes Veterans Affairs & The Military committee 10-0







Sunday, February 8, 2015

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