Friday, March 31, 2017

We are nearing the end of session, but the work is far from over. This week the Institute worked on an adult literacy amendment, workforce readiness grants, SNAP asset limits, and affordable housing protections. Read on for details on these issues as well as a look at next week.

This Week:
Last week, the Institute helped stop an amendment to SB 283 Pyramid promotional schemes (Messmer) that would have allowed a .395% daily "customary fee" to be added to installment loans, bringing the potential cost of loans up close to 170% APR. Messmer held the bill so that the amendment could be discussed further. That same amendment did not make an appearance this week and the original bill moved on to third reading with no new amendments; however, we will keep tracking this bill for the rest of the session, prepared to take action if need be. HB 1539 is another bill we are watching for payday lending language. It remained on second reading Thursday, so we will continue to watch next week. 

A bill we’ve been working on all session, SB 154 Asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Merritt), was amended in committee – the asset limit was lowered from $10,000 to $5,000, it excludes the certificate of deposit, expands funeral and burial services covered, removes exemption for savings accounts in the name of a dependent child, and removes self-attestation. It passed 7-0 with that amendment and is on second reading. The Institute is disappointed with the removal of several desirable pieces, but thinks raising the asset limit will help more Hoosiers become eligible for SNAP while still saving for expected and unexpected situations. 

SB 312 Use of criminal history information in hiring (Boots) passed the House 80-11.The bill would "ban the Ban the Box" and preempt local fair chance hiring ordinances for people with prior criminal records. While the bill also allows protections designed to encourage private employers to hire ex-offenders, it provides no tools for communities to help ensure employment rights for this population. The Institute encourages Governor Holcomb to veto the bill unless it is paired with an executive order to "Ban the Box" for state employee hiring.
 
HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston) passed the full Senate 49-0. In Appropriations committee, the Workforce Ready Grant was deleted from the bill. However, Sen. Kenley amended the bill on second reading to include the language about grants to help Hoosiers have access workforce credentials for high demand, high wage jobs. This language is important for working families and we are pleased it is back in the bill. 

HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning) passed the Senate this week with an amendment requiring the Department of Education (DOE) and Family and Social Service Administration (FSSA) to do a survey to find the number of 4 year olds enrolled in Pre-K, determine what kind of Pre-K program, and how they qualified for the program they’re in. It will go to conference committee to determine its final form. 

Higher Education/Adult Education Bills:
HB 1281 Various higher education matters (Sullivan) passed 50-0 with the language that requires the commission to study and make recommendations regarding the benefits of a reverse credit transfer policy for Indiana students. It was on 3rd reading this week.

SB 108 Education matters (Kruse) was heard in committee this week where an amendment was added that would require the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to commission a group that specializes in improving access to adult literacy programs to submit a report on adult literacy opportunities. Andrew Bradley from the Institute has worked hard to get this language in a bill and was there to testify to its need. It will be on second reading next week.

HB 1384 Various education matters (Behning) passed 7-4 out of Senate Education, and was also amended to include a report on the need for adult literacy services.

SB 198 Career and technical education (Long) included an amendment in committee that would provide for a new career and technical education grant program for schools so students can begin training or apprenticeships for high wage, high demand jobs. It passed 18-0 out of Ways and Means.

Licensing Bills:
HB 1308 Various professional licensing matters (Zent) passed 49-0 and was returned to the House with no amendments. SB 59 Reciprocity in professional licensing (Head) had an amendment tightening the language in regards to licensed addiction counselor associates and licensed clinical addiction counselor associates. It will be on third reading next week. SB 114 Professional licensing (Kruse) passed the House 83-13 amended, sending it back to the Senate where a motion to concur was filed.

HB 1394 Waiver of local occupational license fees (Frizzell) passed out of committee 9-0 with an amendment including veteran spouses in fee waivers among other things. While the Institute supports the idea of increasing access to middle-skill licensed jobs for low-income families, we are concerned about efforts to deregulate licensed professions by starving their budgets.
 
Other bills:
HB 1001 State biennial budget (Brown) passed out of Senate Appropriations 11-0.

HB 1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) passed 11-2 with a couple amendments. 

HB 1074 Homeowners association proxies (Macer) was on third reading Thursday and passed 49-0.

HB 1154 Unemployment insurance (Leonard) passed the Senate 50-0. 

HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey) passed out of Senate Elections 5-0 and remained on second reading on the Senate floor Thursday.

HB 1337 Telemedicine matters (Kirchhofer) passed out of Senate Health and Provider Services 9-0.

HB 1386 Competency based education (Behning) was not taken for a vote.

HB 1439 FSSA matters (Kirchhofer) passed out of Senate Appropriations 11-0.

HB 1450 Property tax matters (Leonard) passed 10-1 out of Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy. 

HB 1470 Government information (Ober) had an amendment in committee that stripped the bill and sends the issue to summer study. That version passed 9-0. Much of the concern was about privacy of sensitive information and a lack of knowledge of the Management Performance Hub (MPH). It did not have the same level of skepticism in the House. 

HB 1523 Search fee for public records requests (Richardson) was on second reading Thursday with an amendment to exclude title searches from this fee, as discussed in committee this week. It was on second reading Thursday. 

HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunications (Negele) was on second reading Thursday. 

SB 42 Pro bono legal service fee (Grooms) postpones the current sunset provision for the pro bono legal services fee and passed 91-0.

SB 63 Community mental health center telemedicine pilot (Head) was in House Public Health, but was not taken for a vote this week.

SB 242 Indiana Housing First program (Merritt) passed 8-0 out of committee and is on second reading next week. 

SB 346 Donation of certain local funds to foundation (Grooms) passed 98-0 and was returned to the Senate with amendments. 

SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman) passed 96-0 with a few failed amendments proposed by Democrats. It is now back in the Senate as a concurrence ready for action. 

SB 507 Economic development (Head) deals with Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and passed 96-0. 

SB 515 Various tax matters (Hershman) passed 93-1 with two failed amendments proposed by Democrats.

Next Week: 

SB 558 will be heard in House Judiciary on Monday, April 3, 2017 at 10am in Rm. 156-D. This bill includes language limiting local governments' ability to require a percentage of housing to be designated as affordable housing. It also allows landlords to refuse to rent based on "reasonable occupancy standards" which limit each room to 2 people instead of basing occupancy on square footage. This can greatly increase the cost of housing for families with more than 4 members. Below is a Marion County example of how dramatically housing costs increase when a third (or forth) bedroom is required. It also reveals the increasing costs of housing in general. Check out our self-sufficiency calculator to see the data for your county and family size. 
Data from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/FY2017_code/select_Geography.odn

On the Floor - Monday 4/3
Senate 1:30pm
Concurrences Eligible for Action -
SB 114 Professional Licensing (Kruse)
SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman) 
Second reading -
HB 1178 Voter registration opportunity for all motor vehicle transactions (Kersey)
HB 1523 Search fee for public records requests (Richardson)
HB 1539 Financial institutions and consumer credit (Burton)
HB 1626 Study of universal service for telecommunications (Negele)
Third Reading -
HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behning)
HB 1008 Workforce development (Huston)
HB 1074 Homeowners association proxies (Macer)

House 1:30pm
Second reading -
SB 108 Education matters (Kruse)
SB 154 Asset limitation for SNAP eligibility (Merritt)
SB 198 Career and technical education (Long)
SB 242 Indiana Housing First program (Merritt)
Third reading -
SB 59 Professional licensing (Head)
SB 283 Pyramid promotional schemes (Messmer)

The schedules above are current as of March 31, 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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