Monday, February 22, 2016


Predatory lending is back on the table! Even though the House Financial Institutions Committee transformed a bill allowing a dangerous new payday loan product into a bill requesting a summer study committee on the issue of installment loans, we understand that a Senator is reinserting language allowing an installment product with high monthly fees. This product has the potential to saddle low-income consumers with long-term debt. As soon as we have more information, we will urge you to contact your legislator to kill the bill. A representative from IIWF will also speak on behalf of families who have suffered as a result of Payday lending's predatory practices. If you have a story you would like to share, please email us.

Last week, Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley also voiced IIWF's objections to SB 20, which will restrict localities' ability to place more employee-friendly scheduling requirements on employers. The bill was amended to allow individuals who are filing for unemployment insurance wider access to individuals who can assist them with this process. It was ordered engrossed and is likely to receive a vote on Monday. It's not too late to contact your legislator to express concerns about the bill's preemption of localities rights to push more worker-friendly scheduling policies.

In more positive news, the House Family, Children, and Human Affairs Committee passed SB 325, which will expand eligibility for Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to 200% of the federal poverty level and will allow vehicles to be purchased with the funds. As Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley noted, reliable transportation is often a significant barrier to employment and education for low-income individuals. Individuals who save funds in IDAs receive a match from the state. The Committee also passed SB 11, which allows individuals to set up tax-free ABLE savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, Chairman Frizzell suggested that there would be no further action on SB 132, which would allow individuals who served time for drug felonies to access SNAP benefits. He cited a fiscal cost associated with the changes to the SNAP program.

The House also passed SB 217, which would allow townships to provide assistance to qualified customers using prepaid meters, and ordered SB 251, the out of school learning fund, engrossed without amendments. SB 251 is likely to receive its final reading next week. We are still monitoring HB 1001, a road funding bill that currently includes a regressive tax package that will effectively raise the net amount of taxes most Hoosiers pay while reducing the net tax of the the top quintile of earners. The Institute on Tax and Economic Policy has modeled the impact of the bill; look for their analysis in a guest blog on our site this week.

This Week

HB 1340:  Long term small installment loans
Description: Currently, the bill urges a summer study committee on the issue. However, it may be amended in committee to introduce a new long-term payday lending product with high monthly finance charges.
Last Action Taken: Referred to the Senate.
Next Action Time and Location: Committee hearing 2/25/2016, 9:00am, Room 130.
Our Position: Oppose. Payday loans often become debt traps for low-income borrowers. With annual percentage rates (APR) up to 391%, borrowers pay a tremendously high cost for access to funds. 

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. This is part of our 2016 working families agenda.
Last Action Taken: Committee report: do pass, adopted.
Next Action Time and Location: Expected to have a second reading Monday.
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.

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: The Education Committee heard testimony this week. Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley noted that the provision opening the EARN Indiana Program would assist the estimated 1.3 million Hoosiers that will need to increase their skills and credentials in order to access higher-paying jobs. 
Next Action Time and Location: The Education Committee is likely to vote on the bill on Wednesday, 1:30pm, Senate Chamber.
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, fulfilling another piece of our working families policy agenda

SB 20Workforce 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: amended, ordered engrossed 
Next Action Time and Location: Passed 69-22 
Our Position. Oppose. Just-in-time scheduling, where employers give little to no notice of work schedules and number of shifts, creates many challenges for working families. It can make it difficult to budget, secure childcare, or take on other employment. We support local units of government maintaining the right to require that employers to give employees more notice and/or compensating the employee if they change the schedule without sufficient notice.   
 


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: The Education Committee heard testimony on the bill on Thursday, 2/18/2016. Andrew Bradley testified in support, noting that credentials and degrees can help Hoosiers secure higher-wage jobs.
Next Action Time and Location: Committee vote likely to be held Thursday

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 251 Indiana out of school time learning fund
Description: Creates the Indiana out of school time learning fund to fund before and after school programs operated through schools.
Last Action Taken: Second reading: ordered engrossed 
Next Action Time and Location: Passed 90-4
Our Position. Support. Afterschool and summer programs keep youth safe during high crime hours, inspire learning, and support working families. According to a 2014 Afterschool Alliance report, 83% of respondents with a child in an afterschool program agreed that the afterschool program helped them keep their job and 85% said that the program gave them peace of mind while at work.  
 


SB 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan. 
Last Action Taken: Committee report: do pass, adopted

Next Action Time Location: Third reading, House Chamber.
Our Position: Oppose. While we support the Healthy Indiana Plan, we do not support codifying it in statute at this time because we are concerned it could jeopardize waiver renewal negotiations between the state and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and would hamper the ability of consumer advocates to pursue changes to the program outside of the legislative session.


Last Week

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. This is part of our 2016 working families agenda.
Last Action Taken: Passed out of the Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs.
Next Action Time and Location: Second reading expected this week. 
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.

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: Passed unanimously and referred to the Senate
Next Action Time and Location: Committee vote expected Wednesday afternoon.
Our Position: Support. Andrew Bradley testified that many adults who return to school can only do so on a part-time basis; opening up the EARN Indiana program would be  he amendment to this bill would pave the way for adult learners to access more meaningful, career-aligned work-based learning opportunities, fulfilling another piece of our working families policy agenda

SB 251 Indiana out of school time learning fund
Description: Creates the Indiana out of school time learning fund to fund before and after school programs operated through schools.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate and referred to the House.
Next Action Time and Location: Education Committee hearing, 2/16/2016, 8:30am, Room 156-C
Our Position. Support. Afterschool and summer programs keep youth safe during high crime hours, inspire learning, and support working families. According to a 2014 Afterschool Alliance report, 83% of respondents with a child in an afterschool program agreed that the afterschool program helped them keep their job and 85% said that the program gave them peace of mind while at work. 


SB 217 Township assistance payment of electric bills
DescriptionAllows 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 : Third reading: passed 89-6.

Next Action Time and Location: Third Reading, 2/16/2016, 1:30pm, House
Our Position: Support. This bill enables township trustees to assist low-income customers with prepaid utility accounts.  

SB 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan. 
Next Action Time & Location: Committee hearing, 2/15/2016, 10:00am, House Chamber.
Our Position: Oppose. While we support the Healthy Indiana Plan, we do not support codifying it in statute at this time because we are concerned it could jeopardize waiver renewal negotiations between the state and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and would hamper the ability of consumer advocates to pursue changes to the program outside of the legislative session.



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Please note that the schedule below is current as of February 18, 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. 

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