Weekly Legislative Update–Indiana 04/06/2024

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The House had until Tuesday to vote bills out of committee, the Senate until Thursday. Bills that don’t make it out of committee are effectively dead, though language from “dead” bills could be amended into bills that do move forward, resurrecting them.
This session officially ends March 14, but both Republican caucus leaders indicated their intention to sine die, or adjourn the 2024 legislative session, by March 8, a week earlier than anticipated.  
Many bills will soon reach the desk of Governor Eric Holcomb. You can reach his office during business hours at 317-232-4567, or anytime via email at in.gov/gov/ask-eric to leave your comments. 

Passed both chambers, Governor next

Education & our kids
Senate Bill 146 Youth employment
This bill “would lower the minimum age of a teenager serving alcohol from 19 to 18, so long as they had a supervisor over the age of 21. Four Republicans joined the Democratic caucus to oppose the measure… 
Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, spoke against the proposal, noting the number of penalties the Department of Labor reported when it came to employer violations and the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment in places serving alcohol.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle) View the vote.

House Bill 1093 Employment of minors
This bill “repeals provisions restricting how long and when minors between 16 and 18 can work. It also specifies that a prohibition on kids aged 16 to 18 working in a hazardous occupation doesn’t apply to youth performing farm labor.
An amendment was added with language from House Bill 1062 that a child who is at least 14 and has completed eighth grade can work during traditional work hours with parent approval…
Shawn Christ, secretary treasurer for the Indiana State AFL-CIO, called the bill “an attempt to roll back child labor protections that have been fought for generations after generation.”
(Indiana Capital Chronicle) House concurred with Senate amendments. View the vote.

Senate Bill 1 Reading skills
This bill which seeks to remedy Indiana’s literacy “crisis” by requiring schools to administer the statewide IREAD test in second grade — a year earlier than current requirements — and directing new, targeted support to at-risk students and those struggling to pass the exam. 
But if, after three tries, a third grader can’t meet the IREAD standard, legislators want school districts to retain them.
That number could reach into the thousands according to recent data. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 202 State educational institution matters
This is “a sweeping bill that would require the state’s colleges and universities to consider “intellectual diversity” in campus policies.
Among its provisions, the bill forbids schools from granting a faculty member tenure if they’ve shared political opinions unrelated to their academic discipline with students. It also allows students and other employees to file complaints against faculty members who they believe have failed to keep these opinions to themselves — or have otherwise stifled a “culture of free inquiry” on campus.” (Chalkbeat Indiana

House Bill 1042 Transition to teaching scholarships
This bill “would fund additional scholarships for school employees with non-teaching degrees. Lawmakers hope the expansion will encourage more people to transition to teaching from other careers…The program provides scholarships of up to $10,000 to school employees who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields. Through the program, they can become teachers without earning an additional degree.

Senate Bill 2 Child care
“The measure, authored by Sen. Ed Charbboneau, would create pilot “microcenters,” mandate a study on child care worker salaries and decrease certain regulations on providers…a House committee opted to add after-school and out-of-school programs to the child care proposal.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle

Senate Bill 17 Age verification for material harmful to minors.
This bill “would require websites hosting pornographic content to verify the ages of users.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1264 Election security
This bill will make voting more difficult for many, especially first time voters. It requires more stringent proofs of residency and citizenship and requires the use of an online system, Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) online electronic program to check the “proof of citizenship” for naturalized citizens who register to vote. This database is dated and does not identify illegal immigrants. It likely violates both the Civil Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. (The Indiana Citizen)

House Bill 1133 Use of digitally altered media in elections
“The proposal requires disclaimers on political campaign communications including fabricated media depicting a candidate that a reasonable person wouldn’t know was fake. The panel amended the bill to add federal candidates alongside state candidates.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1235 Prohibited causes of action concerning firearms.
This bill aims “to circumvent an active lawsuit that has the potential to hold them [the gun industry] accountable for the harm they’ve done to the state of Indiana through legally wrongful conduct. Since 1999, Brady has represented the City of Gary in its fight against major gun manufacturers. The gun industry has tried to derail this pivotal case every step of the way…[This bill] could not only obliterate Gary’s lawsuit — the only of its kind in the country — but would also make it impossible for any locality in Indiana to hold the gun industry accountable for the consequences of the firearms they negligently manufacture, market, and sell.” (Brady)
Passed Senate version with amendments 64-27. View the vote

House Bill 1426 Long acting reversible contraceptives.
This bill “would require Indiana hospitals offer women who give birth in the hospital, and are covered by, or eligible for, Indiana Medicaid, the option of having a subdermal contraceptive implanted after delivery and prior to discharge.” 
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 132 Professions and professional services
This bill adds “some additional regulations on insurers and…[allows] patients to assign benefits to dental providers whether or not their dentist is in-network…[It] includes requirements for the Family and Social Services Administration’s rollout of Managed Care for Long-Term Supports and Services, tweaks telehealth law, eases licensing for foreign-born nurses, eliminates certain requirements for health facility administrators and more.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1070 Mental health grants
Allows the division of mental health and addiction to award mental health grants to for-profit community mental health organizations if a nonprofit organization does not qualify for the grant.

Senate Bill 132 Professions and professional services
This bill adds “some additional regulations on insurers and…[allows] patients to assign benefits to dental providers whether or not their dentist is in-network…[It] includes requirements for the Family and Social Services Administration’s rollout of Managed Care for Long-Term Supports and Services, tweaks telehealth law, eases licensing for foreign-born nurses, eliminates certain requirements for health facility administrators and more.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle) Passed both chambers unanimously.

House Bill 1216 Medical services for certain detainees.
This bill requires “the state to foot the bill for Hoosiers involuntarily committed to mental health facilities. Additionally, the bill would allow doctors overseeing intake to consider the testimony of friends and family members before signing off on an involuntary commitment.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle

Senate Bill 188 Actions on deposit accounts
This bill “would shorten the amount of time that Hoosiers have to sue their financial institutions from six years down to two, and caps the amount of damages that can be awarded.” Passed the House 60-34. View the vote. 
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 181 Citizenship and immigration status
This bill empowers “the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to enforce a 13-year-old law banning sanctuary city ordinances…[This bill] “comes after Indiana’s two highest courts dismissed lawsuits aimed at a pair of Hoosier cities.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1338 Security of property and meeting decorum.
Indiana senators largely neutered the public access counselor position by inserting language in this unrelated bill with little warning or public testimony.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1284 Deposit account agreements.
This bill allows “financial institutions to change contract terms on customers without explicit acceptance…“The House must either vote to concur with the Senate changes or send it to a conference committee to negotiate a deal between the two chambers. The proposal previously encountered little opposition on the House floor — getting just four ‘no’ votes from three Democrats and one Republican.” The House concurred with Senate amendments 66-20. View the vote.

House Bill 1135 Cosmetology licensure and apprenticeships.
This bill “creates a second pathway for cosmetology licensing. The purpose is to serve students in rural areas — which may not have nearby beauty schools — and be more affordable for students.”  (Indiana Capital Chronicle

House Bill 1352 Inspection of residential onsite sewage systems.
This bill “contains another septic system provision, which further limits when local governments can inspect a system. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 246 Assessment of wetlands classified as wildlands
This bill would expand a voluntary incentive program for property owners to preserve wetlands.

Senate Bill 5 Lead water line replacement and lead remediation
This bill would “make it easier for utilities to replace lead service lines

Senate Bill 253 Lake Michigan rescue equipment
This bill requires “each municipality located adjacent to Lake Michigan to make available for public use high-quality, easily visible water safety and rescue devices no later than July 1.” Senator Rodney Pol (D-Chesterton) has been working for years to get this legislation passed.  (NWI Times)

Senate Bill 190 State disaster relief fund
This bill “tweaks the existing state disaster relief fund to allow higher payments to Hoosiers for certain emergencies while expanding the uses of those dollars to include mitigation efforts.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1329 Local government matters
This bill “blocks local health departments from requiring inspections of residential septic systems upon the sale of the property. The House can either accept the changes or dissent and negotiate a compromise.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Bills still under consideration:

(The status of these bills is likely to change quickly. Click on the link for the bill. If the bill is ‘engrossed’, it is still being reconciled and needs a final vote. Contact your representative and senator: https://iga.in.gov/information/find-legislators
If the bill is ‘enrolled’, it has passed both chambers and the governor is next. Express your opinions about enrolled bills with the governor:  317-232-4567 or via email at in.gov/gov/ask-eric.

Passed both chambers; differences need to be reconciled for final passage

House Bill 1002 Enforcement of equal educational opportunity
This bill aims to “ban antisemitism in public educational institutions — although critics of the proposal maintain it limits free speech and conflates anti-Jewish rhetoric with criticism of a foreign government.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle) In committee to reconcile chamber differences.

House Bill 1243 Various education matters
This bill “guarantees that school counselors will have more time to provide services for students that are increasingly in demand…The latest draft requires that for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 academic years, schools must ensure that at least 60% of a school counselor’s aggregate time on the clock is devoted to providing direct services to students. That increases to 85% beginning with the 2026-2027 school year.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 8
This “broad higher education measure requiring the state education department to offer an online option for all Indiana College Core courses by 2027…[It]  would further require colleges and universities to offer three-year degree programs.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1137 Religious instruction and school chaplains.
“The bill originally required schools to release students for up to two hours of weekly religious instruction at their parents’ request. The Senate education committee added a provision from a separate bill to also allow chaplains to serve as school counselors. Under the latest draft, they can only provide secular guidance, except for emancipated minors or with a parent’s permission, however.”

(Indiana Capital Chronicle) Passed 34-14 in the Senate. View the vote.

Senate Bill 282
This bill “focused on chronic absenteeism…The proposal requires school districts to prohibit habitually truant students — those who have 10 or more unexcused absences — from participating in extracurricular activities. Under the bill, school officials must additionally report habitually truant students to the prosecutors’ office. Prosecutors would then have to notify parents that they’ve filed affidavits related to their students’ absenteeism.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Passed in the House 66-31. View the vote.

House Bill 1001 Education and higher education matters
This bill opens Educational Scholarship Accounts to more students. ESAs were originally intended to help meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. ESAs are different from vouchers, which provide students funding for private schools. An ESA can be used for other educational expenses, including homeschooling. But both vouchers and ESAs siphon away public school funds. ESAs are available to families making as much as 400% of the Federal Free or Reduced School Meals limit.
This bill  also “seeks to allow money from the 21st Century Scholars program and Frank O’Bannon grants to be used by high school graduates for training by an approved intermediary, employer or labor organization — rather than for education costs at a college or university.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1084 Privacy of firearms financial transactions
Prohibits a governmental entity or any other person from knowingly or willfully keeping any list, record, or registry of: (1) privately owned firearms; or (2) the owners of firearms; with respect to Indiana consumers. Passed the Senate 41-8. View the vote.

Senate Bill 256 Fiscal matters
“House lawmakers used Senate Bill 256, a state funds bill, as a jumping off point for a slew of  bipartisan amendments related to FSSA and attendant care. 
After announcing the $1 billion “variance” in the Medicaid budget, FSSA proposed several program changes — the largest of which would transition 1,622 disabled children from attendant care to Structured Family Caregiving (SFC). For families, who have rallied at the Statehouse repeatedly in protest, that would mean a significant cut in payments.”
This bill goes into committee conference to reconcile differences between the two chambers so some of the crucial amendments that would continue payments to family caregivers may be stripped from the bill. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1385 Payment for ambulance services
The legislation “would require health plan operators to pay out-of-network ambulance service providers at a rate set by the county or municipality in which the transport started. If there’s no local rate, plan operators would have to pay 400% of the published Medicare base rate or the ambulance provider’s billed charges — whichever is less.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1259 Professions and occupations
This bill “seeks to continue expanding the nursing workforce by addressing foreign-educated nursing licensure requirements and on-the-ground training. While most of the bill received glowing support in testimony, one issue was a bit of a sticking point for nurses working in clinical settings: language striking minimums for preceptors, or licensed nurses supervising students during rotation.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1120 Property taxes
Increases the assessed value limit for the disabled veteran property tax deduction from $200,000 to $240,000.
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1183 Foreign ownership of land
This bill “would prohibit entities or people from six “adversarial countries” — a list that the U.S. Department of Commerce defines as Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela — from owning or leasing Hoosier farmland along with mineral, riparian or water rights.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

House Bill 1004 Pension matters (previously Thirteenth check)
The Senate stripped this bill 13th check language and inserted their own language from a bill that died in the House. That bill seeks a long term solution, but wouldn’t be enacted this year.
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Senate Bill 4 Fiscal and administrative matters
This bill “sets up an ongoing review process of unused state government funds and allow agencies to cut their fines or fees through an internal process… the bill could recoup roughly $40 million in its first review cycle, with over half of that money earmarked for the Medicaid reserve account to make up for a $1 billion budget shortfall and the remainder going into the General Fund for spending in 2025.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle) Passed unanimously out of committee to the House floor.

Senate Bill 234 Disaster emergency
This bill limits the governor’s emergency powers. “House Republicans…weakened their Senate counterparts’ latest attempt to limit the governor’s emergency powers following a slew of pandemic-era executive orders by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
The Senate version of the legislation would’ve removed a Hoosier governor’s ability to extend a state of disaster emergency after 30 days. It included an exception: one 30-day renewal for the exclusive purpose of receiving federal relief funds. And it applied to all disaster declarations, not just statewide…
[House changes allow] the governor to make statewide disaster emergency declarations lasting 60 days with one 60-day renewal. There is no tie to funding. The General Assembly would have to convene to continue any statewide declaration.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

 In other news

“The State Central Committee (SCC) of the Indiana Democratic Party (IDP) announced they unanimously endorsed Jennifer McCormick to be Indiana’s next governor in the 2024 election during its February meeting.”  (ABC 57)

“Incumbent Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is seeking re-election this year after first being elected in November 2020. Rokita confirmed he was seeking re-election on X
Election forecast organization, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, placed Rokita’s race as leans Republican, a shift from safe Republican. According to Sabato’s Crystal Ball, this is the only attorney general race to prompt a rating shift so far this year.” (Indiana Daily Student)

“Democrat Beth White, an attorney with more than 30 years of experience, is running for her party’s nomination in Indiana’s attorney general race.  
As one of two Democrats in the race, White hopes to unseat incumbent Attorney General Todd Rokita, who has held the position since 2021… White will face the former Deputy Attorney General, Destiny Wells, for the democratic nomination in the race. The Indiana Democratic Party will select its nominee for attorney general during its primary convention in July 2024. Whoever the party selects as its candidate will run as the Democratic party’s nominee in the general election in November.” (Indiana Daily Student

“Donald Rainwater, Tonya Hudson and Andrew Horning will be at the top of the Libertarian Party’s ballot in the 2024 November general election.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Hoosier homeowners face an uphill battle when considering investing in rooftop solar. Indiana ranks as the worst state in the country for going solar, according to a new report.  (Indy Star)

Armed with $868 million in federal funding, the Indiana Broadband Office is embarking on an ambitious project to finally bring broadband to all corners of the state.  (IBJ)

“In a unanimous vote Friday, the IU Board of Trustees approved a recommendation from IU President Pamela Whitten to forgo the establishment of a nonprofit entity for the Kinsey Institute, according to a press release.
Following the Indiana House’s February 2023 vote which prohibited state appropriations from funding the Kinsey Institute, IU administration submitted plans to establish a nonprofit entity to manage the institute’s operational functions supported by the university’s general fund.” (Indiana Daily Student

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