Sunday, February 28, 2016


Last week a dangerous new payday loan product was defeated in Senate committee, a regressive tax combo was dropped, and several Institute agenda items moved closer to final passage. 

Victory! After several hours of testimony, the Senate  Insurance & Financial Institutions Committee voted down an amendment to HB 1340 that would have allowed payday lenders to offer high-interest installment loans to their borrowers. While the loans proposed under the Senate amendment offered relatively better terms than those originally proposed in the House, the APR of 180% and the low income threshold required to qualify raised alarm among consumer advocates and religious organizations. IIWF Program Manager Jessica Fraser testified that the product would likely trap more low-income borrowers in a cycle of debt. While the amendment failed, the bill proposing a summer study committee on the issue will have its second reading on Monday, and IIWF will watch vigilantly for further efforts to amend installment loans into the bill.  

While HB 1340 moves forward unaltered, committees did make changes to a number of  other bills that we've been tracking. The Senate Appropriations Committee amended HB 1001, a road funding bill, removing the regressive tax package that effectively raised the net amount of taxes most Hoosiers pay while reducing the net tax of the top quintile of earners. The House Public Health Committee stripped the provisions in SB 15, the fresh food initiative, that set up a grant program for entities providing fresh food in food deserts and transformed it into a summer study committee on the issue. 

Because this year's legislative session is planned to end on March 10th, many bills will receive their second and third readings this week. Check the schedule below to see which bills we will be watching as they make their way to the governor's desk.

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: Committee voted down an amendment allowing an installment product to low-income borrowers with an APR of 180%.
Next Action Time and Location: Second reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, Senate
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. 

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: Committee Report: amend do pass, adopted 
Next Action Time and Location: Second reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, Senate
Our Position: Support. One of the amendments 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 301Workforce 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: Second reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, House

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 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 bill was amended to propose a summer study committee on the topic of fresh food availability.

Next Action Time and Location: Second Reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, House 
Our Position: Support. Working families throughout the state have limited access to fresh produce; in fact, Walk Score ranked Indianapolis worst in the nation for easy access to grocery stores. Some research has linked food deserts - or locations where affordable, nutritious food is difficult to obtain - to health problems such as diabetes. 



SB 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan.  
Last Action Taken: 
Amended to include new data collection provisions, including number of individuals who are removed from the higher tier of service for missed payments.

Next Action Time Location: Third reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, 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. 

HB 1344:  Unemployment insurance
Description: The bill  abolishes the Indiana Unemployment Compensation Board, transferring the board's responsibilities to the Department of Workforce Development. It requires individuals receiving benefits to attend an orientation at a one stop center in order to maintain eligibility.
Last Action Taken: The bill was amended on second reading to require individuals to schedule their orientation within four weeks of receiving benefits and attend an orientation within six weeks.
Next Action Time and Location: Third reading, 2/29/2016, 1:30pm, Senate

 

Last Week

HB 1340:  Long term small installment loans
Description: Currently, the bill urges a summer study committee on the issue. The amendment in committee to introduce a new long-term payday lending product with high monthly finance charges was defeated.
Last Action Taken: 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. 

HB 1001:  Road funding
Description: The original bill would raise the state’s gasoline tax by 4 cents per gallon, the tax on diesel fuel by 7 cents, and the cigarette tax by $1 per pack. The package would increase road funding by an estimated $500 million a year, with the revenue from the cigarette tax increase offsetting general revenue funds that would be newly diverted for transportation. The House bill also includes a $294 million tax cut via a gradual reduction in the state’s personal income tax rate to 3.06 percent.
Last Action Taken: Committee hearing 2/25/2016, 9:00am, Room 130.
Our Position: Oppose. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed the regressive tax provisions in this bill. As our guest blogger, Lisa Christensen Gee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, noted, the provisions would have raised taxes on the bottom 80% of Hoosiers while giving a tax break to the top 20%.   

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 passed the bill 7-0.
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 301Workforce 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 passed the bill 12-1.
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 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: An amendment in the Public Health Committee removed all provisions from the bill and recommended a summer study committee.

Our Position: Support. Working families throughout the state have limited access to fresh produce; in fact, Walk Score ranked Indianapolis worst in the nation for easy access to grocery stores. Some research has linked food deserts - or locations where affordable, nutritious food is difficult to obtain - to health problems such as diabetes. 

SB 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan.  
Last Action Taken: 
Second 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.

HB 1344:  Unemployment insurance
Description: The bill  abolishes the Indiana Unemployment Compensation Board, transferring the board's responsibilities to the Department of Workforce Development. It requires individuals receiving benefits to attend an orientation at a one stop center in order to maintain eligibility.
Last Action Taken: The bill was amended on second reading to require individuals to schedule their orientation within four weeks of receiving benefits and attend an orientation within six weeks.


Subscribe here to receive these updates via email. From time to time, if an unfavorable or favorable bill is moving forward, we will also send Action Alerts For more frequent updates, you can like the Indiana Institute for Working Families on Facebook  and follow us on Twitter. The Institute also welcomes your donations to ensure that working families continue to have a voice at the Statehouse.


Please note that the schedule below is current as of February 25, 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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