Sunday, March 6, 2016


Sine die, the day the legislature adjourns without plans to meet again, is currently scheduled for March 10th, and the General Assembly has been working feverishly to pass legislation before this date. Late last week, conference committees began meeting to reconcile bills that were changed as they went through their second chambers.  Conference committees are created when the original chamber dissents to the amendments put in place by the second chamber and are comprised of representatives from both chambers. The committee meets to agree on a compromise bill and then returns the bill to both the House and the Senate for a final vote. Both chambers must pass the bill in order for it to proceed to the governor's desk. Last Wednesday, the conference committee for SB 20 met and added the classification of what Senator Tallian described as dependent workers, such as those who drive for on-call car services, to the list of items for summer study. The rest of the bill, which preempts local control of employer scheduling policies, remained in place despite Representative Moseley's protests that this constitute an "overreach" of state control.

As committees wrapped up their work, another of Indiana Institute for Working Families' policy agenda items received attention for the first time this session. The Roads and Transportation Committee heard HR 40, a resolution urging the Legislative Council to assign the topic of the suspension and reinstatement of driver's licenses for low-income motorists. IWF Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley testified in support of the resolution, noting that reinstatement fees for licenses have increased significantly while wages for low-income workers have remained stagnant, making the ability of low-income Hoosiers to reinstate their licenses in order to continue employment or education an issue worth studying. It was adopted in the House unanimously on Friday.

This coming week, we anticipate that the bills below will be negotiated in conference committees before joining the many other bills on their way to the governor's desk.     

This Week

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: Conference committee hearing will be held this week

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 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan.  
Last Action Taken: 
Passed the House 61-33.

Next Action Time Location: Conference committee, 10:00am, Room 431
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 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.
Next Action Time Location: Conference committee hearing, 3/7/2016, 9:00am, House Chamber 
Our Position: Oppose. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed the regressive tax provisions in this bill, but members of the House may fight to keep them. As our guest blogger, Lisa Christensen Gee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, noted, the provisions would raise taxes on the bottom 80% of Hoosiers while giving a tax break to the top 20%.  

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: Conference committee hearing, 3/7/2016, 9:30am, 156-C

 

Last Week

HB 1340:  Long term small installment loans
Description: The bill urges a summer study committee on the topic of authorizing lenders to make long term small loans.
Last Action Taken: Passed the Senate 49-1.
Our Position: Support. While many low-income families need credit and cannot access traditional avenues, payday loans often become debt traps for low-income borrowers. It will be useful to study and implement ways to extend low-cost credit to families in need.

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 the Senate 50-0; the House consented to the amendments.
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 House passed the bill 92-1. The Senate dissented to the amendments to the bill.
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: Urges the Legislative Council to designate a summer study on the topic of establishing a food desert grant and loan program.
Last Action Taken: The bill passed the House 90-4.
 
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 20:  Workforce policies
Description: Provides that a local unit of government may not require an employer to have a scheduling policy that exceeds federal or state requirements.
Last Action Taken: Conference Committee removed provisions in the bill relating to marketplace contractors and added the issue to the list of items for summer study. 
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 165 Healthy Indiana Plan
DescriptionCodifies the Healthy Indiana Plan and requires legislative action to change essential components of the plan.  
Last Action Taken: 
Third reading on 3/3/2016.

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. The House dissented to the amendments.

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Please note that the schedule below is current as of March 4, 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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