4/05/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Please contact your state representative about

Please contact your state senator about

HB 1001, the state budget, will transfer funds from public to private education through an increase in vouchers and the creation of Education Scholarship Accounts. The Indiana Coalition for Public Education urges you to contact your state senator now to demand that language about ESAs and an increase in vouchers be removed from the budget bill. To send an email, find your legislator and then follow this format: Senator.Niemeyer@iga.in.gov
Your message can be as simple as this: I am (name) from (area), I ask you to remove the voucher expansion and ESAs from the budget bill. Sending more money to private schools hurts my public school district. Public schools educate 94% of Hoosier children, and that’s where your priorities should be.
Read more at Indiana Coalition for Public Education

To date there are 361 restrictive voting bills circulating through state legislatures across the country. Contact your Senator to support the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and D.C. statehood.
Todd Young: (202) 224-5623; To email: https://www.young.senate.gov/contact/email-todd
Mike Braun: (202) 224-4814; To email: https://www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike

Let’s do our part to help alleviate food insecurity, which is especially dire during these times.

Donate to or volunteer at Food Bank of NWI

For a list of local food pantries: https://www.foodpantries.org/st/indiana

Meals on Wheels, NWI: https://mownwi.org/


The Truth Matters

Fact Checks

HR 1,  For the People Act, and S 1 are the companion bills that will bring sweeping elections reform. This legislation IS constitutional. Many republicans are saying the Constitution does not allow Congress to regulate state election law. That is a lie. “In the United States, states have primary responsibility for the administration of federal elections. The federal government, however, has significant authority to determine how these elections are run, and may direct states to implement such federal regulations as the federal government provides. This authority can extend to registration, voting, reporting of results, or even more fundamental aspects of the election process such as redistricting.” Read more at Every CRS Report
“The Framers of the Constitution were concerned that states might establish unfair election procedures or attempt to undermine the national government by refusing to hold elections for Congress. They empowered Congress to step in and regulate such elections as a self-defense mechanism.” (National Constitution Center)

Registering to own a rifle is faster than registering to vote in most states. Despite denials by Senator Cruz that this statement is “patently, laughably false,” it IS true. Read more at Politifact.

The January 6 insurrection was a violent attack on our democracy that continues to this day thanks to the lies perpetrated by the former president, his followers and right wing media. Read a personal story of the life threatening attack on one capital police officer at CNN Opinion.


Congress has been in recess and will be back in session next week.

Signed into law

H.R. 1651: COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To amend the CARES Act to extend the sunset for the definition of a small business debtor, and for other purposes.”

President Biden released his $2.2 trillion dollar American Jobs Plan. It includes replacing water lead pipes across the country, repairing bridges and roads, expand services provided under Medicaid, building new public schools better affordable and sustainable housing, and much more. Read details along with republican opposition at Causes. Polling shows some of the proposals overwhelmingly popular features include “new job training for coal miners, highway and bridge work, increasing affordable childcare, expanding broadband access, expanding family and medical leave, upgrading public transportation, and investing in clean energy.” (Axios) Read the White House fact sheet of the American Jobs Plan.

Biden released his first list of judicial nominees. He has 69 vacancies to fill. These nominees, if confirmed, will be groundbreaking in terms of diversity. Read more at Politico.

To find and contact your Members of Congress:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials 

In other news:

Three states enacted laws preventing transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports in elementary through college. Many say these laws a solution looking for a problem and they will likely be challenged in the courts as other similar laws have been. In addition, the NCAA does allow transgender athletes to play and so these states may also draw the ire of the NCAA. Read more at Causes.


Enacted, signed into law by the governor

HB 1006 Law enforcement officers
Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed into law a police reform and training bill lauded by Indiana Democrats and Republicans as “historic.”  (South Bend Tribune)

Passed both chambers, now before the governor to sign or veto

SB 28 Tax sales
“The measure explicitly prohibits individuals who owe tax debts from bidding on properties at county tax sales. It also bars ineligible bidders from hiding behind a business or corporate entity to acquire tax sale properties.” (PD Clarion)

SB 303 Motor vehicle fuel matters
Passed by strong majorities in both chambers.
Legislation that opponents say would limit consumers’ access to a promising blend of ethanol fuel is on its way to becoming law. (Herald Bulletin)

SB 386 Cost securitization for electric utility assets
Pilot program to deal with stranded assets, utilities no longer being used but for which money is owed. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1127 Mental health and addiction forensic treatments
The bill removes a provision in statute that terminates a delinquent child or incarcerated person from Medicaid participation following a two-year suspension due to certain adjudications or incarceration.  It further adds competency restoration services to the list of treatment and wraparound recovery services made available to persons in the criminal justice system. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1220 21st century energy policy development task force
This bill reauthorizes the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1520  Electric utility reliability adequacy metrics
This bill establishes metrics to ensure that utilities are providing Hoosiers reliable, adequate service.

Still under consideration in the House

SB 389 Repeals state regulated wetlands law
“The state regulates 80% of Indiana’s remaining wetlands, said William Blomquist, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis professor and member of the White River Alliance board of directors. The federal government regulates the remaining 20% of the wetlands because the habitats are so closely connected to the federal clean water act, he said.
An Indiana law requires people or companies to apply for and obtain a permit from the department of environmental management for wetland activity in a state-regulated wetland. SB 389 would repeal this law.
The increased development on these areas that could result from this bill passing would disrupt an important habitat for migratory birds and amphibians. The disturbing of these habitats would get rid of plants and soils that filter out contaminants from waterways and ground water, Blomquist said.“The  more contaminants our ground water collects, the more expensive it is to treat it up to drinking water quality,” he said. Real estate developers are in support of this bill as it would allow for them to build more properties, he said.” (Indiana Daily Student) Let your legislator know your opinion: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/.

SB 5 Local health emergencies
This bill would curb restrictions during any health crisis, including removing the local health commissioner for “good cause.” It would allow businesses to ignore restrictions during an appeals process, among other measures that limit or forbid the imposition of restrictions during a health emergency. It has passed through committee in amended form with democrats arguing that it allows politics and not science to dictate responses to health emergencies. Passed out of committee in amended form. (AP News)

SB 383 Various tax matters
This bill has been amended to conform to federal law and not impose Indiana income tax on unemployment benefits up to $10,200. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB5  Local health departments; public health emergencies
This bill prohibits local health officials from implementing more stringent restrictions than the state during an emergency order without the approval of local elected officials.  Further, the bill requires approval of local health board’s appointment of health officers.  By contrast, during last week’s announcement, Governor Holcomb said, “As always, local govt may impose more stringent guidelines, whether that is a bank branch lobby, factory floor, or county courthouse, they retain the authority to make decisions about restrictions for their operations and should be afforded respect, compliance and understanding of all who visit them.”  The bill passed out of Rules Committee 7-3. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB352SB359 and SB377 Broadband
The House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee heard and amended the trio of Senate bills dealing with BroadbandThese bills complement HB1449 updating procedures for OCRA regarding the administration of the Next Level Broadband grants, establishing a “dig once” program within INDOT to create broadband corridors, and creating the 21st Century Connected county designation for counties with broadband connectivity for at least 90% of the county’s residents before January 1, 2026. All 3 bills passed out of Committee on Monday and are moving through the process on the House floor. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB3  Telehealth
This bill was heard before the House for final consideration, “SB3 deals with the issue of telehealth.  We passed a similar bill, HB1286 which passed 93-0.  The goal is to bring a wider range of care actions across the state that have been particularly useful during the lockdown.  There are a few major provisions – such as prohibiting Medicaid from specifying originating sites and distance sites for purposes of Medicaid reimbursement, telehealth may not be utilized for abortion services, specifies that a patient waives confidentiality of medical information concerning individuals in the vicinity when the patient is using telehealth, requires that telehealth records must be maintained under the same standard as in-person setting appointments, and that providers may not be forced to use specific technology applications to use telehealth.”  The bill passed 91-1. The Senate will soon consider whether to Concur or Dissent with the amendments made in the House. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 54 FAFSA completion incentive awards (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 271 Environmental matters
This bill provides for a property owner claiming an industrial waste control facility property tax exemption (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 133 Sentencing
The bill does the following: Enhances the penalty for child exploitation and child pornography if the person has a previous conviction. Provides that a court may suspend only that part of a sentence that is in excess of the minimum sentence for a person convicted of a Level 2 or Level 3 felony who has a prior unrelated felony conviction, other than a conviction for a felony involving marijuana, hashish, hash oil, or salvia divinorum. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

SB 336 Business personal property tax exemption
This bill increases, from $40,000 to $60,000, the acquisition cost threshold for the business personal property tax exemption. Passed out of committee. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 373 Carbon credit programs
This bill amends the law concerning the Benjamin Harrison conservation trust program giving the program additional powers relating to the reduction of carbon footprints. However, upon referral to the House, it was discovered there are already carbon credit programs in place in the State and this bill seemed to merely burden the Ag Dept with a new program.  With that in mind, all language in the Senate version of the bill was stripped and replaced with an amendment to create a “working group…” The intent of the group is to create a “one-stop shop” program that is “common sense and bipartisan” for Hoosiers to demonstrate supply and demand for offset credits in Indiana. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 143 Pharmacy benefit managers
Increases oversight to provide tighter regulation of pharmacy benefits managers (or PBMs), holding them accountable and giving more protection to consumers and pharmacists. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 175 Alcoholic beverages
This bill creates flexibility for alcohol sales in food halls along with other provisions. Passed out of committee and has cleared 2nd reading on the House floor. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 187 Protection of monuments, memorials, and statues
The bill does the following: States the policy of the state of Indiana regarding the protection of monuments, memorials, and statues. Requires the state police department to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of persons who destroy, damage, vandalize, or desecrate a monument, memorial, or statue. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

SB 141 Central Indiana public transportation projects
This bill would “would harm transit service in Marion County by reducing funding needed to fully build out IndyGo’s two new rapid transit corridors and provide expanded local bus service to neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.” (Hoosier Environmental Council)

SB 197 Criminal law issues
Deals with a variety of sentencing and charging changes. Passed through committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

SB 368 Juvenile justice
Provides for the automatic expungement of certain juvenile offenses when a child reaches nineteen (19) years of age, or one (1) year after the date on which the juvenile court discharges the child, whichever is later. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

Still under consideration in the Senate

HB 1001 Budget
“Indiana legislators are developing the state’s budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, which is outlined in House Bill 1001. This bill will determine how much money will be set aside for areas such as capital expenditures, K-12 and higher education and state operations. Both the Senate and House introduced their versions of the bill, which are subject to change. Now, both versions have about a $22 billion budget for both 2022 and 2023, with slight differences in how much money was allocated to each area. Since the beginning of the legislative session, the budget bill has adopted some language from other bills expected to pass, such as House Bill 1005, which would create an educational savings account program and extend eligibility to receive private school vouchers to families who have a household income of up to $145,000. The budget bill also includes sections that would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for certain services and impose an excise tax on the retail sale of vapor products.” (Indiana Daily Student) Let your legislator know your opinion: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/.
Blocking of Indiana cigarette tax hike frustrates advocates Fox 59 Advocates for the tax hike hoped it would help reduce the number of Hoosier smokers and thus improve the overall health of the state.

HB 1123 Legislative oversight of certain fiscal and emergency matters
“The bill would establish a new process for the General Assembly to call itself into a 40-day emergency session to consider legislative action in response to a gubernatorial declaration of a statewide emergency. That limits a governor’s authority to impose long-lasting emergency restrictions such as mask rules and business closures… The proposal would additionally give lawmakers more control over federal economic stimulus funds Indiana receives…” (AP News) The governor announced he would veto this bill. (Southwest Indiana Chamber) The leaders of the Indiana House and Senate say they believe the courts will eventually decide the constitutionality of this legislation. (Indy Politics)  

HB1002 Civil immunity related to COVID-19
This bill was the original the House bill granting broad-based civil immunity related to COVID issues, but after SB1 was passed and signed by the Governor, 1002 was no longer needed for that purpose. The Senate Judiciary Committee has amended the bill to focus only on immunity for actions of healthcare providers and to prohibit class action suits against governmental entities, including higher education institutions (whether they are public or private). After multiple Committee hearings and several different amendments, the bill passed out of Committee Wednesday and moves to the Senate floor next week. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1449 Broadband development
This bill is the House comprehensive broadband bill. Among several provisions, it prioritizes funding to ensure health clinics and K-12 schools and students have broadband access. It establishes a reverse auction system for individuals and businesses to request a bid for service and opportunity for state subsidy. The bill modifies the Next Level Grant program to serve unserved addresses and prohibits state grants where federal grants have already been awarded. It requires the Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA) to establish and publish specific goals and submit to state board of account audits annually. The bill passed the Senate 50-0 and is awaiting a decision from the House about whether to concur or dissent from Senate amendments. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1190 Overweight truck permits
This bill has been held over in committee for another week amid many opposing viewpoints. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1577 Abortion matters
This bill puts more restrictions on physicians and women, including requiring parents approving of an abortion for their child to get such approval notarized; physicians note that no other medical procedure requires notarization. The bill also requires physicians to inform their patients that that a drug induced abortion can be reversed, although there is no medical evidence that that is true. Other limitations on abortions are included in the bill. (WFYU Indiana Public Media)

HB 1002 Civil immunity related to COVID-19
The bill protects health care providers from professional discipline for certain acts or omissions related to health care services provided during a state disaster emergency. The provider is not protected from discipline if the action, omission, or decision constitutes gross negligence or willful misconduct. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

House Bill 1200 Human trafficking
This bill has been passed and adopted by the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. This bill creates stronger protections for victims of human trafficking, especially for underage victims. HB 1200 has already passed through the House but has yet to be voted on by the Senate. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

House Bill 1365 Various election matters
This bill has been returned to the House with Senate amendments. HB 1365 outlines several new voting and voting place regulations. This bill has already been passed through the House once. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

House Bill 1384 Civics education
This bill has been signed by the Speaker after the House agreed to Senate amendments. HB 1384 outlines a plan for creating standardized civics education in Indiana, and it has a strong chance of becoming law. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

HB 1309 Pregnancy accommodation
Pregnant worker protections short of Indiana governor’s goal The Ridgefield PressINDIA
NAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana legislators are turning aside — for the second straight year — an appeal from Gov. Eric Holcomb for a law requiring more businesses to provide workplace accommodations for pregnant women.
Pregnant worker protections short of Indiana governor’s goal – Fort Wayne’s NBC

HB 1381 Commercial wind and solar standards and siting
A new amendment allows counties that have restrictive wind farm ordinances to keep them, but also encourages them to allow wind farms in special districts. (NPR WFYI)
Indiana Senate passes major renewable energy bill amendment Fox 59
The Indiana Senate is drastically changing a controversial renewable energy bill. The House version of HB 1381 set state standards ..

HB 1030 Removal of a county elected officer
This bill has been amended in the Senate Local Government Committee, which changed one of the biggest aspects of the bill. A motion to dissent, or not to accept the Senate amendment, has been filed in the House, meaning the bill could go to a conference committee to resolve the difference. (Statehouse File)

HB 1293 Criminal appeals
Provides that an order granting a motion to discharge a defendant before trial may be appealed to the supreme court or the court of appeals. (Indiana Courts)

HB 1383 Judicial officers.
The bill provides that a person commits battery on a public safety official if the offense is committed against a current or former public safety official: (1) while the official is engaged in the official’s official duty; or (2) in retaliation for the official having engaged in the official’s official duty. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

HB 1448 Adoption
The bill removes certain residency requirements for individuals seeking to adopt a child. Passed out of committee in amended form. (Indiana Courts)

To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

In other news

State of Indiana dropping mask mandate; some cities keeping masks KPVI News 6
(The Center Square) – Indiana’s statewide mask mandate is being lifted April 6, but in some places in the state, people will continue to be required to wear masks. These include Muncie, Indianapolis, Monroe County, Elkhart County, St Joseph County, and Hamilton County so far.

In response to President Biden’s plea to governors and local officials to maintain or reinstate mask mandates to combat a surge of infection across the country, Holcomb said the “The state continues to move ahead.” Read more at Fox 59.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Indiana’s Lake Michigan beaches Associated Press
PORTER, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed the latest attempt by property owners in a northwestern Indiana town to deny public access to Lake Michigan beaches.