Sunday, February 24, 2019

As the legislature prepares to send over bills to the opposite chamber and the 2019 General Assembly session reaches its halfway point, the Indiana Institute for Working Families has seen significant progress on a host of issues that affect the economic well-being of working families in Indiana. However, there is still work to be done and ways that you can support key issues like TANF modernization and a 36% payday rate cap, and MOST IMPORTANTLY THIS WEEK: help stop an aggressive predatory loan product expansion. The fate of several bills will be decided Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, the House goes into its session at 10 AM and the Senate goes in at 1:30 PM. 

We are going to start with the most pressing news that needs your advocacy urgently! The Institute is shocked by the passage of SB613 out of the Senate Commerce and Technology committee on Thursday, February 21, 2019 with a vote of 8-2. Lawmakers stripped the bill and inserted a 69-page amendment that was only made public at 4pm the night before the committee hearing. It has disastrous consequences for Hoosier consumers. Senior Policy Analyst Erin Macey described for lawmakers what was in the bill, addressing the many issues and answering questions from the committee with the knowledge base we have developed over years of research. Many coalition members testified in opposition to the bill as well. IIWF posted a blog earlier this weekend with a summary of the details of SB 613 as it passed out of committee.  The bill could receive its final Senate vote and move on to the House on TUESDAY, February 26, 2019.  CALL YOUR SENATORS and BEG THEM TO VOTE NO ON HIGHER COST BORROWING!

Going back to the beginning of the week, we started the week with some great news! On Monday, February 18th, the Senate Family and Children Services committee unanimously voted to move SB440 (TANF Eligibility) to the Senate floor for debate as a statewide coalition comprised of healthcare experts, workforce development advocates, and a representative from the faith community stood together in support of the bill. SB440 will be heard on Monday by the Senate.

The State of Indiana currently has the fourth lowest TANF eligibility in the nation and has not experienced a TANF increase since 1988. TANF was created to serve as a lifeline to Hoosiers, and it has not been able to do so as Executive Director Jessica Fraser stated in committee, “We set them to set dollar amounts and did not include an indexing mechanism, meaning that value has eroded significantly.” Over the past 30 years, the minimum wage has increased four dollars, the cost of fair market rent in cities throughout Indiana has more than doubled, and the average median sale price of a new house has nearly tripled yet TANF has remained stagnant. The time to pass TANF eligibility and benefit reform is long overdue, and we need your support to ensure that SB440 moves over to the House next week.  If you would like to see TANF reform for the first time in over 30 years, please CALL YOUR SENATOR and voice your support for SB440!

On Tuesday, February 19th, the House Financial Institutions committee unanimously voted to move HB1495 (Rent-to-own contract protections) to the House floor for the debate. HB1495 could be voted on in the house and will have the opportunity to move on to the Senate.  If passed, the bill would ensure that when Hoosiers engage in rent-to-own land contracts that there will be a higher standard of accountability, transparency, and consumer protection measures in place to prevent unnecessary forfeiture and make the path to home ownership easier to navigate for working families. If you would like to see this bill move on to the Senate, please CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE!

On Wednesday, February 20th, the Senate Insurance and Financial committee voted to move SB104 to the Senate floor, which represents a major victory in coalition efforts to cap payday loans at 36% and put an end to predatory lending in the state of Indiana. Unfortunately, with the passage of SB613 out of committee as well, two bills that are moving in two different directions in terms of consumer credit policy for Indiana are heading for a showdown on the Senate floor.  

Next week will mark the third reading deadlines in both chambers, a few days off from session and then we start right back up on Monday, March 4th with Senate bills in the House and vice versa. 

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