Friday, March 24, 2017

Paid leave and workforce development and fair chance hiring, oh my! The yellow brick road that bills travel can have twists and turns. Thankfully, the Institute was ready to address those issues this week by speaking with committee members and educating legislators. We also fought an amendment from payday lenders and found an exciting addition of reverse credit transfer language. Read on for more details on the bills this week.
SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian) passed the House 93-2! Thank you for the calls and emails to legislators supporting this bill. It moves on to Governor Holcomb for his signature.You can contact him here thanking him for his signature. (You can use Senate as the email topic.)
This is the farthest a bill on this issues has gotten in Indiana, so the excitement in progress is greater than the poor quality camera phone photo taken in haste before the vote left the screen. Thank you for joining our excitement!

Consider calling your legislator to thank them for their vote and encouraging their participation in future conversations.
UPDATE - Things to watch this half of the session:
Payday lending language to appear as an amendment –
This week the Institute defended against payday language being covertly inserted into SB 283, a bill protecting consumers from pyramid promotional schemes. On Tuesday, the Institute and other advocates responded to a last minute amendment that would alter the uniform consumer credit code instead of the separate small loans statute, including a possible 171% APR. Thankfully, discussion with the bill’s author and the presence of opponents kept the amendment at bay. We will continue to watch this bill as well as HB 1539 for payday lending language. 

SB 312, the ban ‘Ban the Box’ bill –
This bill was heard in House Courts and Criminal Code on Wednesday. A notable voice addressing the bill was Vop Osili, the City-County Councilor who wrote the Marion County “Ban the Box” statute that is in effect. His plea was that there be something in place so that more individuals have the opportunity to become employed. Section 4 of this bill includes protection for employers by not allowing background checks to be used as evidence in civil suits, which can remove some risk and encourage the hiring of ex-offenders. The Institute is disappointed it passed out of committee 11-0. 

Adult literacy –
We expect an amendment in HB 1384 asking for the state to report the need for job-driven adult literacy training.  

This Week:
On the Floor
Several bills the Institute supports passed this week. On Tuesday, HB 1268 Traffic amnesty program (Shackleford) passed the Senate 49-1. SB 307 Veteran preference for employment and training (Hershman) passed the House 95-0. 

SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman passed the House 96-0 and is returned to the Senate with amendments. It will most likely go to conference committee.*

SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) passed the House 82-13.

SB 42 Pro bono legal service fee (Grooms) remained on 2nd reading this week with three possible amendments. House Employment Labor and Pensions heard SB 59 Reciprocity in professional licensing (Head) on Tuesday, but it remains on 2nd reading. SB 515 Tax administration (Hershman) passed out of House Ways and Means, yet remained on 2nd reading all week. HB 1308 will be on 3rd reading in the Senate next week. SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms) and SB 507 Economic development (Head) will be on 3rd reading next week in the House.

*Speaking of conference committees, let’s take a second to talk about what that means. If a bill is passed by one chamber, but amended in the other, the originating chamber must approve the amendments. If they do not, the bill goes to conference committee! There, two members from each chamber are appointed to discuss the bill and get it to a version they all agree on. All four members must sign the committee report and then the report must be voted upon and pass both chambers. 

In Committee
HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston) was heard in Senate Appropriations with much discussion on the Workforce Development Grant, which was removed from the bill with a last minute Senate amendment. The Commissioner of Higher Education, Teresa Lubbers, stressed the importance of the Workforce Development Grant in helping Hoosiers get high value certificates or “upskill” in order to get high demand jobs. Jessica Fraser from the Institute spoke on the data that supports the demand for middle skill jobs and the necessity of this grant. The amended bill passed 11-0 with some legislators stating their yes vote was on the commitment that the workforce development grant would be added back in. 

HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan) was heard in Senate Education and Career Development where an amendment passed which requires the commission to: (1) study and make recommendations regarding the benefits of a reverse transfer policy for Indiana students and prepare a report regarding the recommendations; and (2) submit, not later than November 1, 2017, the report to the budget agency and legislative council. Reverse credit transfer would provide a mechanism for students who begin their education at community colleges before transferring to a four-year institution to automatically receive associate degrees when they hit the right credit threshold. Read the Institute’s report from 2013 on this issue here.

HB 1523 Search fee for public records requests (Richardson) was heard in Senate Local Government. Most people who testified on the bill were in support including the Hoosier State Press Association, a local treasurer, a local recorder, and a representative of Ball State University. The Institute is hopeful that this will not put an undue burden on researchers, though the intent of the bill seems to be solely to allow public entities to recoup costs of high volume search requests. 

HB1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) passed out of Senate Appropriations 9-0 with no discussion or amendments. It heads to the full Senate where it will be up for amendments, discussion, and vote. 

HB 1154 passed Senate Pensions and Labor with some amendments to the full Senate. If it passes the Senate, the author has said it will go to conference committee because the amendments are not in line with his intent for the bill. Much of the discussion was centered around the Unemployment Insurance fund, from how much was needed to bolster it back up, whether there should be a cap, how much is used for fraud and the return on investment for those funds, and how/when it should be reported to legislators. 

HB 1439 FSSA matters (Kirchhofer) heard in Senate Health and Provider Services where it passed 9-0 and was recommitted to Appropriations. 

HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunication (Negele) passed Senate Utilities 7-0.

Next week:
In committee
Monday 3/27
HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey) in Senate Elections at 10am in Rm. 431
SB 283 Pyramid promotional schemes (Messmer) in House Judiciary at 10:30am in Rm 156-D

Tuesday 3/28
HB 1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) and HB 1450 Property tax matters (Leonard) in Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy at 8:30am in Senate Chamber
SB 108 Education matters (Kruse) in House Education at 8:30am in House Chamber

Wednesday 3/29
HB 1394 Waiver of local occupational license fees (Frizzell) in Senate Pensions and Labor at 10am in Rm. 233
HB 1384 Various education matters (Behning) and HB 1386 Competency based education (Behning) in Senate Education and Career Development at 1:30pm in Senate Chamber. Look for the adult literacy amendment in HB 1384.

Thursday 3/30
HB 1001 State biennial budget (Brown) in Senate Appropriations at 10am in Rm. 431

On the Floor - Monday 3/27
Senate 1:30pm
2nd reading - HB 1308 Various professional licensing matters (Zent)

House 1:30pm
2nd reading - SB 42 Pro bono legal service fees (Grooms), SB 59 Reciprocity in professional licensing (Head), SB 312 Use of criminal history information in hiring (Boots), and SB 515 Various tax matters (Hershman)
3rd reading - SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to a foundation (Grooms) and SB 507 Economic development (Head)

The schedules above are current as of March 24, 2017. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly website as these can and do change.

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