Thursday, January 14, 2016












With the General Assembly closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this week will be brief but intense with the Institute testifying on multiple important bills. The Institute's years'-long advocacy for Indiana to create a Work Sharing program will take its furthest step yet as HB 1014 will be voted on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. in the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee. IIWF Program Manager Jessica Fraser will testify in favor of the bill, authored by Rep. David Ober and also supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana AFL-CIO, among others.

Also this week, the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee will hear testimony Tuesday at 8:30 on several bills of interest to working families. IIWF Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley will testify in support of SB 212, which would require retailers to offer more notice of scheduling and number of shifts to part-time employees. IIWF will also support an amendment to HB 1248 that will better align work-based learning opportunities and adult learners' career goals. After Thursday's Senate session, the Family and Child Services Committee will hear SB 377, which would remove asset limits for SNAP recipients, and SB 325 which would allow Individual Development Accounts to be used for vehicles for work and adult education.

Last week, the General Assembly moved forward on a number of bills of interest, including legislation  that would require the state to assess workforce demands and align both higher education and high school offerings with these demands (SB 301). Other legislation that would create grants and loans to encourage businesses to offer healthy foods in underserved areas was amended to include non-profits as potential grant recipients and appears poised to move from the Senate to the House (SB 15).

Next door to the Statehouse, Dr. Diana Pearce presented the new Indiana Self-Sufficiency Standard and Economic Security Pathways reports in an IIWF-hosted event at the Indiana State Library. Data from the project revealed that wages have not increased at the same rate as living expenses. In fact, nine out of ten of the jobs employing the most Hoosiers do not pay adequate wages for a family comprised of one adult, one school age child, and one preschooler to meet basic needs. This information speaks to the importance of work supports and programs offering pathways to self-sufficiency. Read the new reports and keep an eye out this week for the new Indiana Self-Sufficiency Calculator for all 92 counties.

Please note that the schedule below highlights bills scheduled to be heard as of January 17, 2016. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly's website as these can and frequently do change.

This Week
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.    
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions 
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday, January 19, 8:30am, Room 156-A
Our Position: Support. This bill would mitigate the effects of reduced hours and wages on household budgets.   

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.
Last Action Taken: Referred to Committee on Family & Children Services
Hearing Location & Time: Thursday, January 21, Upon Adjournment, Senate Chamber
Our Position: Support. 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.

HB 1248: State financial aid
Description: While this bill amends a number of definitions and eligibility requirements related to state financial aid for higher education, IIWF is most interested in an amendment that would change the requirements of the EARN Indiana program.    
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Education 
Hearing Location & Time: Tuesday, January 19, 8:30am, Room 156-C
Our Position: Support. The amendment to this bill would pave the way for adult learners to access more meaningful, career-aligned work-based learning opportunities.  

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.  
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Pensions & Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday, January 20, 9:00am, Room 233
Our Position: Support. Part-time work with "just--time scheduling" - where an employer gives little to no advance notice of an employee's number of shifts or work schedule - makes it difficult for employees to budget, plan childcare and transportation, secure employment, and/or continue their education. This bill would offer employers and employees a greater sense of security and predictability.  

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. 
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Pensions & Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday, January 20, 9:00am, Room 233
Our Position: Oppose.

SB 400: Presumption of employee classification
Description: Establishes a presumption that the employer has accurately classified a worker as either an independent contractor or employee.
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Pensions & Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Wednesday, January 20, 9:00am, Room 233

SB  167: University ownership of certain entities
Description: Authorizes a state educational institution to acquire and retain shares or other ownership interests in a privately held entity.  
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Appropriations
Hearing Location & Time: Thursday, January 21, Upon Adjournment, Room 431

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. 
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Pensions & Labor
Hearing Location & Time: Thursday, January 21, 8:00am, Room 431
Our Position: Support.

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.
Last Action Taken: Referred to Committee on Family and Children Services
Hearing Location & Time: Thursday, January 21, Upon Adjournment, Senate Chamber
Our Position: Support. Allowing savers to use IDAs to purchase vehicles for work or adult education increases access to jobs and skills development, particularly for the great majority of Hoosiers without reliable access to public transportation.

Last Week
SB 15: Fresh food initiative
Description: Establishes the food desert grant and loan program to assist businesses and non-profits to offer fresh and unprocessed foods within a food desert, or underserved area where affordable, healthy foods are difficult to obtain.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed

SB 20: Restrictions on employer scheduling policies
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.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed
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 a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor.
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means 

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.
Last Action: Second reading: ordered engrossed

SB 301: Workforce education
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.
Last Action: Committee report: amend do pass, adopted
Our Position: Support. IIWF senior policy analyst Andrew Bradley testified in support of the bill, noting that it seemed likely to increase access to middle-skill jobs, which are a reliable ticket to economic self-sufficiency.

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.
Last Action: Committee report: amend do pass, adopted

Click here to view the full list of the bills we are tracking.



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