Friday, February 3, 2017

Exciting news, friends and followers! SB 253, a bill asking for a study committee on voluntary paid family and medical leave, passed out of committee this week 9-0! Thank you for your calls and e-mails to legislators. YOU made a difference. Next up, getting it passed in the Senate. Stay tuned!
SB 9, a bill to eliminate Indiana's ban prohibiting individuals convicted on certain drug offenses from receiving  SNAP benefits, is on 3rd reading next week where it is likely to be called for a vote. Please contact your Senator and ask that he or she vote YES on this bill.  

Next week may hold more opportunities to call your legislators as we expect two high priority bills to be scheduled for hearings. SB 245 would introduce a new long-term payday lending product with significantly higher interest rates than other installment loans offered in Indiana (as high as 240%). SB 312 would ban local Ban the Box and 'fair chance' hiring ordinances, which remove the box on employment applications asking about criminal history in an effort to allow ex-offenders to show their qualifications instead of being instantly filtered out of the application process.

Sign up here for action alerts on these issues. We will need your help!

This Week:

Monday saw discussion on HB 558 which addressed rental property, including occupancy limits and whether or not local governments can require developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in their developments. It passed out of committee 5-2 after the author, Sen. Holdman, removed a provision that would have limited rental occupancy to two persons per bedroom.
 
On Tuesday, HB 1004 was heard in the House Education committee which lead to a robust discussion of Pre-K in Indiana.  The Institute's resident education policy specialist, Erin Macey, testified on how Head Start fits into the equation. There were also many business leaders extolling the benefits of early childhood education. (Education committees are not for the lighthearted. This committee meeting was over 4 hours long!) It passed out of committee 9-4.

 
Amy Carter, the legislative and communications intern for the session and writer of Inside the Statehouse, testified on SB 307, a bill giving veterans and their spouses preference for employment and training programs. (As a military spouse, I was especially happy to speak in support of this bill.) It was voted out of committee 7-0. Senators Delph, Mrvan, Melton, and Niezgodski were added as authors or co-authors, making it a bipartisan bill.

On Wednesday, Senate Pensions and Labor heard SB 253 on paid family and medical leave, which was amended to make it a study committee using the results of an upcoming study done by Indiana the Commission on Women, as well as SB 463 on worker misclassification issues. Erin testified on paid family and medical leave, noting:


·    Paid family and medical leave not only benefits a person who has an accident and needs to recover, but allows family members to care for new babies, critically ill children, dying spouses, aging parents, and returning veterans

·    Studies in the US and abroad show that workers who take paid leave are more likely to return to their employers than those who take unpaid leave.  

·    Estimates suggest that only 38% of workers are both covered under FMLA and able to afford unpaid leave. These workers are likely to deplete savings designated for things like retirement or education or rely on public assistance to make ends meet.

This bill, due in part to YOUR calls to legislators and conversations with friends, passed out of committee 9-0! Thank you! The fight is not over, however, and we will need your help again this session as we continue to educate legislators on the importance of a study committee on paid family and medical leave.

SB 276, a bill about expanding the Pre-K pilot program in Indiana, was pushed back two weeks to allow for amendments; however, it is technically on the schedule for Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 1:30pm.  SB 34 was passed out of Senate Appropriations. This bill discusses expanded background checks for school employees, and the Institute is watching to see who will pay for this. Right now it is the employee's responsibility unless a school corporation decides to pay for it; however, the checks can only be done once in a 5 year period unless the employee is charged with specific crimes or has a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.  SB 277, a bill about the healthy food initiative pilot program passed out of committee 5-1. Jessica Fraser testified on SB 227, supporting the removal of the time limit on the foreclosure counseling and education fee.

On the Senate and House Floor this week...
SB 9 Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions
SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation passed the Senate 49-0
HB 1281 Various higher education matters passed the House, 99-0
HB 1439 FSSA matters passed the House, 98-0
HB 1459 Financial institutions and consumer credit passed the House, 97-0

Next Week:**
Committee Action
SB 378 Tax credit for bridge toll expenses (Grooms)
Floor Action
House
2nd reading - HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning)
3rd reading - HB 1154 Unemployment insurance (Leonard)
Senate 
2nd reading - SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian)
3rd reading - SB 9 Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions (Merritt)
**We expect more, but this is the schedule as of 2/2/17

Bills relating to our legislative policy agenda can be found below. You can find a complete and regularly updated list here

  • A PATH TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Put families on a path to self-sufficiency by protecting them from high-cost payday loans and predatory lending products. Support asset-building and financial literacy training by increasing funding for individual development accounts (IDAs). 
    • SB 245: Long term small loans (Holdman) Oppose
    • SB 474: Small loans (Melton) Support

  • INVESTMENT IN TWO-GENERATION SOLUTIONS: Investments in Head Start, preschool and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) ensure that young children continue to learn and grow while their parents work or seek further education. 
    • SB 276: Early childhood grant pilot program (Holdman)
    • SB 325: Voluntary prekindergarten program (Stoops)

  • REMOVE BARRIERS TO ADULT EDUCATION & WORKFORCE TRAINING: Allow for better coordination of skills training, higher education and necessary support services. Increase support for the Indiana Adult Student Grant and the WorkINdiana training program, and create Indiana’s first fund for job-driven adult literacy.
    • HB 1008: Workforce development (Huston) Support
    • HB 1464: Work sharing unemployment benefits (Carbaugh) Support

  • ASSISTS &REBOUNDS: Help Hoosiers rebound more quickly from tough times by removing the asset test from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility requirements and raising Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility to 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
    • SB 9: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and drug convictions (Merritt) Support
    • SB 154: Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Merritt) Support
    • SB 527: TANF eligibility (Stoops) Support
    • SB 528: Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Stoops) Support

  • QUALITY OF LIFE & QUALITY OF WORK: Ensure that all working Hoosiers can balance work, family and household budgets through policies that promote fair scheduling, paid leave and high-quality, well-paying jobs. 
    • HB 1183: Employee paid sick leave (Lawson) Support
    • HB 1442: Paid sick and safe leave (Porter) Support
    • SB 3: Paid personal leave (Randolph) Support
    • SB 253: Paid family and medical leave program (Tallian) Support
    • SB 318: Minimum wage (Mrvan) Support

  • BUILD A MORE JUST HOOSIER ECONOMY, STARTING WITH EQUITABLE BUDGET CHOICES: Make equitable budget choices that remedy Indiana’s regressive tax structure, increase economic mobility for working families and promote a more just economy for all Hoosiers.
    • HB 1001: Biennial budget (Brown) Monitor
    • HB 1002: Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) Monitor


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