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1/14 Hendricks County Chambers Weekly Statehouse Update

  • General Statehouse Update
  • Hendricks County Chambers Update
  • Action Items
  • Important Dates
  • Closing

General Statehouse Update


A Week Of Priorities:

The 2024 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly began on Monday in Indianapolis, kicking off a week of legislative agenda announcements.

Governor Eric Holcomb outlined his final legislative priorities this week in his final State of the State address on Tuesday, focusing his priorities on improving child care, addressing falling literacy levels, and raising awareness of job-related training programs. Specific priorities include:

  • IREAD-3 testing to be offered in the 2nd grade to allow for earlier interventions
  • Clarifying Indiana’s existing 3rd grade retention policy
  • Increasing the number of childcare and early education providers
  • Improving access to disaster funding

There was an obvious emphasis on workforce development and education- issues that seem to be addressed every year.

Speaker of the House Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said the House Republican caucus would focus on:

  • Retirement benefits for public employees through a 13th check
  • Banning antisemitism in public educational institutions
  • Job training
  • Administrative law review and changes

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne), House Minority Leader, alsoannounced his caucus’ priorities which focused on economic freedom:

  • Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour
  • Help homeowners with property taxes
  • Implement universal Pre-K
  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates

Read more on House caucus priorities.

In the Senate Chamber, Republicans announced their priorities for 2024, which include improving literacy, childcare access and affordability, healthcare prior authorization, setting up an ongoing process to review and return unused state government funds, and upgrading lead pipes.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, outlined their session priorities to include increasing access to affordable and high-quality childcare, property tax relief, capping certain prescription drug costs, literacy interventions without punitive consequences, and citizen-led ballot referendums.

House and Senate Republican leadership have both outlined that they expect this to be a quick and non-controversial session - will this be the case? Time will tell.


Tax Policy

Lawmakers and experts discussed tax reform and the impact on Hoosiers at the State and Local Tax Review Task Force on Wednesday. The group is studying and scrutinizing the state’s tax structure in advance of next year’s budget session. Among the key topics on the agenda were the possible elimination of the state’s income tax, the impact on low-income residents and small businesses, and the 7% tax on menstrual products. This meeting provided the opportunity for testimony on a number of topics. The task force will meet again in April.


Education Legislation

HB 1001 came before the House Education Committee on Wednesday where attention focused on the state’s Career Scholarship Accounts program, established last year. A House Republican priority bill, the number of applicants and anticipated allocation falling short of estimates, lawmakers are considering amendments to the existing program. One proposal—allowing funding to be used for students to obtain a driver’s license to be used for commuting to job training— was met with some support. The bill also proposes to allow scholarships for college attendance to be used instead for job training. The bill passed in committee and will next be heard on the House floor.

HB 1002 was also heard before the House Education Committee on Wednesday which seeks to protect Hoosier Jewish students fromantisemitism. Also priority legislation, there were over 3 hours of testimony at the hearing with Jewish students, clergy, and college professors asking for the bill’s definition of antisemitism. There were also a significant number of those at the hearing opposed to the bill, claiming that it could chill free speech. The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 12-0 and will be eligible for second reading amendments as early as Tuesday.


Lead Mitigation

Meanwhile, the Senate Utilities Committee heard a Senate Republican priority bill on customer-owned lead service lines. Chairman Eric Koch (R-Bedford) began the hearing by stating that this important issue was an intersection between utility and public health policies. Surprisingly, there are still over 265,000 lead pipelines in use in Indiana currently. With the significant health issues that come with lead pipelines, SB 5 would allow utilities to replace these pipelines more quickly and cost-effectively. Despite a few concerns regarding increased costs, the bill passed the committee 10-0.


What’s Next

Next week is a condensed week with the legislature off on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With a shortened timeframe during an extraordinarily short session (statutorily we must finish by March 14th), this leaves committees with only a few weeks to hear bills before the deadlines. Next week, expect hearings on the administrative law bill, transit, childcare, alcohol, and lots more. Torchbearer Public Affairs will be following all of the committees and keeping you up to date as things happen at the statehouse.

Hendricks County Chambers Update

We wasted no time this week with the 123rd session of the Indiana General Assembly started on Monday. Bills have dropped, committees are holding hearings, and priorities have been outlined.

The Hendricks County Chambers of Commerce priorities of workforce development and childcare - align with many priorities of the House and Senate caucuses this year. HB 1001 is the House Republican’s priority bill dealing with workforce issues this year and the bill was heard in House Education Committee on Wednesday. HB 1001 is the follow-up legislation to HEA 1002 from last year. This legislation seeks to “reinvent high school” and allowed students access to state funding for Career Scholarship Accounts (CSAs) for workforce training in high school to provide students with real-world job experience prior to graduation. Legislators expected 1000 students in grades 10-12 to participate, but the Treasurer’s office informed the committee that only 200 students are currently participating. Because of this, legislators are considering expanding the use of the existing funds to allow for getting a driver’s license and allow for existing scholarships targeted for attending college after high school to be used for job training instead. The bill passed out of committee, 9-4 along party lines and was recommitted to House Ways and Means Committee.

Next week, the Senate Health Committee will take up SB 2 on Wednesday, January 17th. This will be this year’s primary childcare bill- and specifically addresses regulations that are hindering accessibility. A Senate Republican priority bill, I have been told by the Speaker of the House that this is also a priority for the House Republicans. House and Senate Democrats are likely also on board - but the devil is always in the details. The bill contains recommendations from last year’s interim study committee of the Public Health Committee - including establishing pilot “micro-facilities, ” lowering the minimum age of childcare workers, and allowing childcare workers access to childcare credits for their own children. Chambers across the state are planning on testifying in support of this bill as a group - if you would like your Chamber to be included please let me know ASAP!

Another bill that may be of interest to you being heard next week is HB 1165 - legislation by Rep. Jake Teshka (R-South Bend) that creates two new programs for new Indiana businesses - a regulatory sandbox and a Right to Start program. The bill requires the state to encourage 5% of the total number of state contracts to be awarded to Indiana-based businesses that have been in operation for fewer than five years and also requires the state to encourage 5% of workforce development funding, including funding allocated by workforce development boards across Indiana, to be used to support organizations or programs for individuals starting new businesses in Indiana The bill also requires the Secretary of State to eliminate the fees for filing the articles of incorporation of a domestic business corporation by July 1, 2025. It will be heard Tuesday in House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee.

Here is the live link to your bill track for 2023.

Action Items

  • Please let me know if you would like to join other chambers in support of SB 2 next week.
  • Please review your bill track and let me know of any bills of interest to you.

Important Dates:

Screenshot 2023-05-03 at 9.35.52 AM

Tuesday, January 16th - Senate Deadline to Assign Bills to Committee

Tuesday, January 16th - Statements of Economic Interest Due in House and Senate

Tuesday, January 30th - House Committee Report Deadline

Thursday, February 1st - House 2nd Reading Deadline

Thursday, February 1st - Senate Committee Report Deadline

Monday, February 5th - House 3rd Reading Deadline

Monday, February 5th - Senate 2nd Reading Deadline

Tuesday, February 6th - Senate 3rd Reading Deadline

Tuesday, February 27th - House Committee Report Deadline

Thursday, February 29th - House 2nd Reading Deadline

Thursday, February 29th - Senate Committee Report Deadline

Monday, March 4th - House 3rd Reading Deadline

Monday, March 4th - Senate 2nd Reading Deadline

Tuesday, March 5th - Senate 3rd Reading Deadline

Thursday, March 14 - Last Day to Adjourn Sine Die