Friday, February 24, 2017

Last week, the Assembly forwarded a bill to increase financial aid for adults pursuing workforce certifications, but also enabled a bill that would outlaw local fair chance hiring ordinances for people with records. Before the first half of the session closes out, the Institute hopes the legislature acts on bills to lift SNAP asset tests and the lifetime SNAP ban for individuals with drug felonies. 

The Indiana General Assembly will finish up the first half of the session next week. Thursday was the last day for bills on 2nd reading in the House and they will have until Monday to address bills on 3rd reading and pass them to the Senate. The Senate's 2nd reading deadline is Monday and they will have until Tuesday to send bills to the House. The Senate will convene on Wednesday morning to introduce House bills only. When both Chambers adjourn next week, they will not reconvene until Monday, March 6, 2017.

This Week:

SB 8 Forfeiture (Boots) passed 8-1 out of Senate Corrections and Criminal Law. SB 198 Career and technical education (Eckerty) passed Senate Appropriation 10-3 with an amendment moving CTE from under DOE's purview to DWD's control.  SB 242 Indiana Housing First Program (Merritt) passed out of Senate Local Government 7-1. SB 276 was amended in committee to include a provision that priority may be given to an eligible child if their parent is involved in job training or involved in activities that improve their own education. This is an exciting addition as it allows families to have positive learning experiences for their children during the day while they work to improve their employment or educational situations. This could help families as they work towards self-sufficiency. The bill also included language providing funds for reimbursement for technology based, in-home early education services. It passed 12-1. SB 559 Property tax exemption for affordable housing (Eckerty) passed out of Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy 11-0 with the condition that the author would work with advocates and the Association of Indiana Counties on the language.

On the Senate and House floor this week:
The Institute has several bills we hope to see move off of 3rd reading before the deadline next week. SB 9 Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions (Merritt) was moved back to 2nd reading along with SB 154 Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Merritt) where they are again eligible for amendments. Have no fear! This is a normal occurrence in order to amend bills so they can move forward. The Institute has been helping with common sense compromises that will still allow for important reform and increased access to SNAP. The goal is to keep the intent of the bills intact, while also satisfying those who have concerns about misuse of benefits. Look for these to be on 3rd reading next Tuesday, February 28, 2017 and call your state Senator if those issues are important to you. Join our mailing list here if you would like action alerts on these and other bills.

The following bills also saw action on the floor this week:
  • SB 63 Community mental health center telemedicine pilot (Head) passed out of House Ways and Means 22-1 with one amendment that changes the term physician to provider and excludes opioids except when used to treat opioid dependence. It passed 49-0. 
  • SB 277 Healthy food initiative program (Head) passed Senate Public Policy this week 9-0 and passed the full Senate 42-7. 
  • SB 312 Use of criminal history information in hiring (Boots) passed out of the Senate on Tuesday, 38-10. We are disappointed that this is moving on and welcome community support in stopping it in the House.
  • SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman) had a committee amendment that included increasing military pay deduction from $5000 to $7500 among several other things. On the floor, Sen. Tallian proposed an amendment that would give a tax deduction to all who send their kids to school, private or public, and that those deductions are means tested at 400% of federal poverty level, but it failed.
  • HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston) passed out of House Ways and Means on Monday 22-1. On the Floor, several amendments were proposed. The Institute prefers the language addressing post-secondary credentials that are stackable (add up one on the next) and portable (travel with the worker and are meaningful across industries). 
  • HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey) passed the House 94-0.The bill originally stated that an application for a driver's license, permit, or ID would serve as voter registration unless the individual expressly declined to register. The bill that passed to the Senate says that a license branch employee shall ask individuals in any transaction if they want to register or change registration and then help them with that process. Previously, they only gave voter registration if the person was applying for a license, permit, or ID.
  • HB1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackleford) passed the House 96-0. This bill would create a study committee to look at an amnesty program allowing some individuals to have traffic fines and fees reduced. 
  • HB1308 Various professional licensing matters (Zent) passed the House 95-0. This bill includes expedited license renewal for military spouses.
  • HB 1394 Waiver of local occupational license fees (Frizzell) waives fees for veterans or active duty military as they seek to obtain or renew a professional license. An amendment was proposed that would have 50% of the renewal or issuance fees waived for households that are more than 120%, but less than 185% of the federal poverty level. It will be on 3rd reading next week.
  • HB1450 Property tax matters (Leonard) passed out of committee 21-1, then had two slight amendments on the floor. It will be on 3rd reading next week. 
  • HB1470 Government information (Ober) had an amendment added that defines government data and states that government agencies are not required to offer Legislative Services Agency (LSA) free access, but that LSA may enter into an agreement for free services.This passed the House 93-0. As a research institution, we want to ensure future policy is based on data analysis, so we want to see available and affordable public data. The Indiana Law Blog posted an article this week on the topic.
  • HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunications (Negele) passed the House 93-0.

Next week:

Monday is the last day for 3rd reading in the House, and Tuesday is the last day for 3rd reading in the Senate. The legislature will take the rest of the week off to recoup as we finish the first half of the legislative session. The Institute will listen to floor discussion on
  • HB 1001 State biennial budget (Brown)
  • HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston)
  • HB 1394 Waiver of local occupational fees (Frizzell)
  • HB 1450 Property tax matters (Leonard)
  • SB 9 Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions (Merritt)
  • SB 154 Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Merritt)
  • SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman)
and give you a Session-So-Far summary including the missed opportunities and the fights still left to be fought. 
**If you're not already a follower, the Institute's Twitter feed is a particularly good resource for daily information on issues affecting working Hoosier families. You can also check out our Facebook page or sign up for our mailing list

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)
    • SB 364 Child care tax credit (Stoops) Support

  • 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 1281: Various higher education matters (Sullivan) 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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