Friday, February 10, 2017

The Institute has been in committee hearings, watching floor debate, and meeting in legislators' offices this week discussing childcare tax credits, the gap in middle-skill jobs, paid family and medical leave, the removal of SNAP asset limits, and payday lending. And that's just at the State level!

The Institute also had two staff members in DC sharing self-sufficiency data with Indiana Congressional delegates tailored to the districts they represent as well as updated information on the gap in middle skill jobs in Indiana. (You can find your county's self-sufficiency standard here.) We stressed the importance of removing barriers so small businesses can get the skilled workforce they need, how investing in career & technical education and apprenticeships can open doors to middle-skill jobs, and how Congress can ensure that investing in infrastructure means good jobs for working Hoosiers. Representatives from the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition met with Reps. Walorski, Messer, and Hollingsworth, as well as staff from Rep. Banks, Sen. Young, and Sen. Donnelly's offices. 

L-R: Tom Orr of LISC, Peggy Frame of SECS, Congresswoman Walorski, Jessica Fraser of IIWF, Olga Volokhova of DWD, and Andrew Bradley of IIWF
L-R: Tom Orr, Peggy Frame, Congressman Messer, Jessica Fraser, Andrew Bradley, and Olga Volokhova
L-R: Peggy Frame, Congressman Hollingsworth, and Andrew Bradley
Congressman Banks keeps boots from his services in Afghanistan in his office as a pledge to "never forget our veterans".
This visit to DC addressing workingforce skill development coincided with the hearing on HB 1008 in House Ways and Means. This bill establishes conditions for workforce readiness grants as well as tax credits for workforce development. The Institute testified on the importance of workforce readiness grants and workforce tax credits which help adult or non-traditional students who often have work and family obligations in addition to their attempts to upgrade their skills. 

In his State of the State address, Governor Holcomb said, "Right now there are 30,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana, and some 2 million Hoosiers do not have the education and skills needed for today’s jobs. So we’ll invest some 2 million dollars in this budget to create regional “Jobs Ready Grants” to help current workers complete credentials or certificates in high-demand, high-wage fields, so they can enter the workforce in more skilled and highly-paid positions." The Institute hopes the conversations at the federal and state levels as well as within the Governor's office result in more Hoosiers in jobs that allow them to reach economic self-sufficiency.

This Week:
On Tuesday, policy analyst Erin Macey testified on the benefits of childcare tax credits which SB 364 would give to families making under $37,000/year, noting that quality childcare in Indiana is increasingly less affordable

As a research institution who needs access to data and public records, the Institute listened to testimony on HB 1470 and HB 1523 which address management of government data and a search fee for public records. Those bills passed out of committee 8-0 and 7-1 respectively.

Wednesday was a day of committee meetings with HB 1002 Transportation Infrastructure Funding, HB 1410 Property tax deductions, HB 1405 Public defense reimbursements, and HB 1450 Property tax matters getting hearings. These bills address the Institute's interest in an equitable budget and tax structure in the state.

HB 1001, the state's biennial budget, was discussed in House Ways and Means on Thursday. Many different organizations came to make their case for funding in Indiana's budget. Appropriations that the INstitute would like to see either remain constant or be increased include: the Adult Student Grant, the Work INdiana program, the allocation to Indiana's Food Banks, among others.

House Floor
HB 1004 Prekindergarten education (Behining) passed 61-34
HB 1154 unemployment insurance (Leonard) passed 95-0
Senate Floor
SB 9 Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions (Merritt) and SB 253 Study of paid family and medical leave (Tallian) were on 3rd reading all week, but were not called for a vote. If you haven't already called your state Senator about these bills, please call and ask them to support these measures. Find your legislator here.
SB 34 Background checks for school employees (Merritt) and SB 440 Various tax matters (Holdman) were on 3rd reading, but were also not called for a vote.  

Next week:
Senate Family and Children Services will meet at 9:30am on Monday February 13, 2017 in the Senate Chamber. Two big issue bills for the Institute will be heard in this committee. SB 154, which deals with the removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility, will have a vote only hearing.  SB 527, a bill that would set the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) income eligibility requirement to 50% of the federal poverty level and remove the dollar amount set in statute for each payment, will have a hearing with public testimony. SB 485, a bill establishing a pilot program allowing zero or low interest loans to be made to low and moderate income Hoosier with a family member with a disability to make modifications to their homes. The Institute will be there to support and speak on these bills.

SB 245, a bill unnecessarily expanding payday loan products to include a 24-month loan of up to $2,500 with an APR of 240%, will be heard in Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 10am in Rm. 130. The Institute and partners have been trying to stop this harmful legislation with face-to-face meetings, constituent calls to legislators, blog posts, and newspaper articles (that you can find here and here). Please join our mailing list if you would like action alerts on this bill and others this session. 

The Institute is also preparing for a hearing for SB 312 'banning Ban the Box' the box on job applications that asks about criminal history, from local ordinances. This legislation would expressly prohibit 'fair chance' hiring ordinances for people with records, like the one Marion County has, and would preempt political subdivisions from prohibiting employers from using criminal history in the hiring process. This bill is assigned to the Senate committee on Pensions and Labor and will be heard Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10am in Rm. 233.

Other bills up for discussion include HB 1308 in House Employment Labor and Pensions, which deals with different licensing matters specifically expediting the issuance or renewal of licenses, certificates, registrations, or permits to military spouses. This bill will be heard by the House committee Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 8:30am in Rm. 156-A

Please note that the schedules above are current as of February 11, 2017. It is always important to verify the scheduling of bills and sessions on the General Assembly's website as these can and frequently do change. 

**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)

  • 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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