Sunday, January 24, 2016



This past week, the Institute saw many of the bills from our Working Families Agenda move forward, including bills to remove SNAP asset limits and strengthen Individual Development Accounts, with only one at a seeming standstill so far. Here's a look at the current status of the Institute's 2016 policy agenda:
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. As Jessica Fraser, Program Manager of the Indiana Institute for Working Families, pointed out, the asset limit prohibits families from building a bridge to self-sufficiency. It is likely that this bill will be heard in the Appropriations Committee this week.  

ALLOW INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE VEHICLES FOR WORK OR EDUCATION: SB 325, which would expand the potential uses of Individual Development Accounts to include vehicles for work and adult education, passed through committee and is eligible for its second reading in the Senate this week. 

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. The bill passed committee and had its second reading. It is scheduled to receive a vote Monday at 1:30pm in the House.  

REDUCE DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS FOR VIOLATIONS NOT RELATED TO SAFETY:While a bill overhauling the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is currently making its way through the House, it does not include provisions to reduce these suspensions. The Institute for Working Families will continue its efforts to amend a bill germane to the issue and find ways to continue legislative study of the potential solutions.

PROTECT PAYDAY LOAN BORROWERS FROM FALLING INTO DEBT TRAPS: SB 99, which would require Payday lenders to provide additional information to borrowers, has been referred to the Committee on Insurance and Financial Institutions. We are also monitoring HB 1340, which would create a new long-term small loan that charges consumers up to 20% of the principal at origination per month.   

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 appear to have stalled its progress. It is likely that this bill will not receive a vote this session. 

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Check below to see what else is coming up this week and what happened last week to the other bills we have been tracking.

Please note that the schedule below is current as of January 22, 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 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.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed
Next Action Time & Location: Second reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, House
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.  
HB 1344:  Unemployment insurance
Description: Abolishes the Indiana unemployment compensation board and transfers the board's duties to the Department of Workforce Development. 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.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed
Next Action Time & Location: Third reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, House

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: Second reading: ordered engrossed
Next Action Time & Location: Third reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, Senate

SB 206:  FSSA matters
Description: Makes a number of changes to the Family and Social Services Agency.
Last Action: Committee report: amend do pass, adopted
Next Action Time & Location: Second reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, Senate

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: This bill was amended to exclude investor-owned utilities at their request. It passed.
Next Action Time & Location: Second reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, Senate
Our Position: Support. This bill enables township trustees to assist low-income customers with prepaid utility accounts.

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.
Last Action Taken: Amended on second reading to allow the president of Ivy Tech to make recommendations regarding candidates for the role of vice president and ordered to engrossment.
Next Action Time & Location: Third reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, Senate
Our Position: Support. This bill will help low-income Hoosiers learn about and prepare for middle-skill jobs, a pathway to economic self-sufficiency.

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.
Next Action Location & Time: Second reading, Monday, January 25, 1:30pm, Senate

SB 210:  Family leave insurance program
Description: Requires the Department of Workforce Development to establish a voluntary family leave insurance plan.
Last Action: First reading: referred to Committee on Pensions & Labor
Next Action Time & Location: Committee hearing, Wednesday, January 27, 9:00AM, RM 233
Our Position: Support. Jessica Fraser, Program Manager at Indiana Institute for Working Families, will testify in support of the bill on Wednesday.

SB 285:  Employment of unauthorized aliens
Description: Prohibits an employer from knowingly employing an unauthorized alien and authorizes the attorney general to investigate complaints, verify work authorization of employees, and, under certain conditions, notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Last Action: First reading: referred to Committee on Pensions & Labor
Next Action Time & Location:  Committee hearing, Wednesday, January 27, 9:00AM, RM 233

Last Week
SB 15:  Fresh food initiative
Description: Establishes the food desert grant and loan program within the state department of health's division of nutrition and physical activity (division) to assist new businesses, existing businesses, and other legal entities to offer fresh and unprocessed foods within a food desert.
Last Action Taken: The appropriation was removed from the bill and it passed the Senate 37-11. Curious to know how your senator voted? Check here

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: Passed the Senate and referred to the House. See how your senator voted here.

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: Passed the Senate unanimously and referred to the House.

SB 99 Small loans
Description: Adds 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.
Last Action: Language inserted into vehicle bill, assigned to the Committee on Insurance & Financial Institutions.

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: Second reading: ordered engrossed

SB 206:  FSSA matters
Description: Makes a number of changes to the Family and Social Services Agency.
Last Action: Committee report: amend do pass, adopted

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: 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. 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. 
Last Action Taken: This bill was amended to exclude investor-owned utilities at their request. It passed.
Our Position: Support. This bill enables township trustees to assist low-income customers with prepaid utility accounts.

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: The Committee on Pensions & 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.
Our Position: Oppose.

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.
Last Action Taken: Amended on second reading to allow the president of Ivy Tech to make recommendations regarding candidates for the role of vice president and ordered to engrossment.
Our Position: Support. This bill will help low-income Hoosiers learn about and prepare for middle-skill jobs, a pathway to economic self-sufficiency.


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: Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst at IIWF, was among several testifying in support of the bill. It passed the Committee on Family and Children Services
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.


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: Jessica Fraser, Program Manager for IIWF, testified in support of the bill. It passed the Committee on Family & Children Services and will be heard by the Appropriations Committee.
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.
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.

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: The Committee on Employment, Labor, and Pensions heard testimony on the bill, but declined to vote.   
Our Position: Support. This bill would mitigate the effects of reduced hours and wages on household budgets.    

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

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.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed
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.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed



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