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3/13 Hendricks County Chambers Weekly Statehouse Update

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

The 2024 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly ended last Friday night, almost a week earlier than required. After significant discussion that this was to be a “do nothing/emergency issues only” session, there were plenty of major pieces of policy debated and passed with lots of fireworks up until the very end. All in all, nearly 175 pieces of legislation were passed through both chambers and are headed to the Governor’s desk. What made the cut and heads to the Governor? Let’s dive in….




SEA 1 was a Senate Republican priority from the start. A bill to address literacy and grade retention in elementary school, it received plenty of opposition throughout the process from groups such as the Indianapolis Urban League, teachers unions, clergy, and the NAACP based on its potential impact to black and brown students. The bill that would have students take the IREAD test beginning in second grade to allow time for remediation and other interventions before requiring grade retention for those who fail the test in third grade received a number of amendments in the House. New language was added to create a virtual ILEARN assessment offering, set requirements for summer school intervention teachers and tutors, and carve out exceptions for the retention of certain students. However, it was the House’s removal of dyslexia-specific supports that led to a vote of just 29-16 in the Senate to approve the concurrence. That vote was enough to get the bill across the finish line, and the Governor signed it into law on March 11th.


Technical Education

The House Republican education/workforce priority bill, HEA 1001, was debated and negotiated up until the last day of Session. The bill expands career opportunities for students by providing options for students to pursue internships and apprenticeships with local industries through career scholarship accounts (CSAs). The bill also allows students to use funds from CSA grants to pay for training for a driver’s license, within limits, addressing transportation barriers. Siblings of students with disabilities would also gain eligibility for Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), an expansion of the current program which is only available for students eligible for special education services. Language originally included that would allow for 21st Century/O’Bannon scholarship dollars to be used for CSAs was dropped from the final version of the bill. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.



The bill to define antisemitism and ban it as a form a discrimination at educational institutions, HEA 1002, gained new life in the final hours of session on Friday. A key point of contention was the inclusion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, used by 35 states, the U.S. federal government, and 45 countries. It was included in the original House version of the bill, but the Senate’s version removed it. At the end of the conference committee process, a conference committee report (CCR) emerged that retained the IHRA definition but removed the “contemporary examples” found in the original bill, including a provision that said “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country’ is not antisemitism. The compromise version passed Friday night with a single no vote across both chambers.



Despite widespread opposition from Indiana’s public colleges and universities, their professors, and students, SEA 202, a bill amending the duties of state educational institutions' diversity committees and affecting tenure for university employees, passed in both chambers before the end of February. Specifically, the bill prohibits colleges from offering tenure to or promoting faculty who have failed to expose students to a variety of political or ideological frameworks, and create complaint procedures aimed at professors who have shared political opinions unrelated to their academic discipline. It would also compel colleges to consider “intellectual diversity” in policies alongside cultural diversity. Language was originally included that made changes to the makeup of university trustee boards - that was removed upon further deliberation. The bill’s author, Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) said the bill “will improve the quality of education [Hoosier students] receive, because we all benefit – no matter your political beliefs – from being challenged and exposed to new scholarly ideas.” Detractors said the diversity reform bill would “severely damage the ability…to recruit and retain outstanding faculty.” The bill hit the Governor’s desk on March 11th, so he has until March 18th to decide whether to sign into law.



The back-and-forth about the chronic absenteeism bill, SEA 282, came to an end Friday as a final version passed in both chambers. The bill, which went to conference committee, found consensus around two key issues – when an intervention would take place and when truancy would be elevated to the juvenile justice system. In the compromise version, students with five absences within 10 weeks would require school administrators and their parents to meet. Students meeting the state’s previously-decided definition of truancy would also be reported to the local prosecuting attorney.


Child Labor

HEA 1093, a bill extending the hours minors can work and removing certain provisions about the type of work they’re allowed to perform, passed when the House concurred with the Senate’s version of the measure in a vote of 62-31. The bill met controversy throughout the process with opponents challenging how more time at work would affect children’s education. Republican supporters nevertheless emphasized the importance of learning life skills and saving money.



Hospital Mergers

SEA 9’s 42-6 concurrence vote in the Senate on March 4th was the final step in sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. The measure requires that hospitals give the Indiana Attorney General’s Office advanced notice of mergers and acquisitions to allow time for state regulators to review the deal and its impact on the community, and was proposed as a way to reduce healthcare costs and improve access to care. However, some argued that federal oversight would be sufficient without hindering those deals.


Attendant Care Program

FSSA’s proposed cuts to the attendant care program as a means to address their $1 billion deficit led to protests at the Statehouse by family caregivers and ultimately the downfall of the Family and Social Services Agency’s (FSSA) agency bill earlier this session. The House eventually added amendments to SB 256 that would require more of the stipend for caregivers to end up with the family rather than the service provider passthrough and increased reporting by FSSA. However, on the final day of session these provisions were removed from SB 256 and a weakened version inserted in HEA 1120 instead. Instead of specifying a percentage of funds to go to families, the bill states that FSSA “shall'' set a required minimum reimbursement percentage.


Ambulance Costs

HEA 1385 started as a way to address rising emergency service rates by requiring greater reimbursement for ambulance services by health insurance plans. The final version of the bill requires the plans to pay rates set by local units, or, in the absence of such a rate, the lesser of either the billed charges or 400% of Medicare’s base rate. In the conference committee process, the conference committee report (CCR) also picked up the contents of SB 10, establishing the Community Cares Initiative Grant pilot program to help fund local health care programs and mobile crisis teams. That bill failed to make it through the House Ways and Means Committee, but the unfunded program had the support necessary to move forward. The CCR passed with just two no votes across both Chambers.



13th Check

The battle over how to fund pension benefit bonuses for state employees continued until the last minute of session. The House proposed a 13th check cost of living adjustment in HB 1004 and the Senate proposed a long-term approach in SB 275. SB 275 passed in the Senate but died in the House Ways and Means Committee for lack of a hearing. The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1004, but when they did, they amended it to remove its original contents and insert the language of SB 275 in its place. When the bill returned to the House, a dissent was filed and the conference committee process began. The eventual CCR included a 2024 13th check and a hybrid plan for 13th checks and COLAs moving forward. The Indiana Public Retirement System’s board will have the power to raise payroll surcharge rates to help pay for the plan. The compromise language gained House and Senate approval, so HEA 1004 is on its way to the Governor’s desk.


Indianapolis’ Economic Enhancement District

The economic enhancement district for the mile square area of Indianapolis that was established in the budget just before the deadline of last year’s legislative session was a source of controversy again this year as HEA 1199, an effort to undo the measure, made its way through the process. After hours of testimony, the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee amended the House’s version of the bill to revamp tax rates for houses, commercial properties, and apartments while adding opt-in provisions, creating an additional seat on an advisory board, and setting restrictions on the boundaries of the taxing district. After those changes, the bill appeared to sail through the remainder of session. There were no Senate floor amendments, Senators approved the passage 42-7, and the House approved the Senate’s version 89-4. That is why an addition to the CCR for HEA 1120 adding an exemption for single-unit residential housing to the district came as a surprise to many in the final hours of session Friday night. Despite HEA 1199 already having passed the previous day, the CCR language will still impact the underlying policy assuming Governor Holcomb’s signature.



Deregulations and Improving Access

As introduced, supporters of HEA 1102 said that the bill would address the high costs and lack of availability of childcare by easing regulations on home-based providers. Opponents, meanwhile, said the measure would compromise child safety. The final compromise version passed on Friday would increase the maximum number of children allowed in an unlicensed home setting from five to seven and increase the time between license renewals for some child care centers from two to three years. School-based programs would be exempt from licensure if health and safety regulations are met. In addition, the final version amends the definition of school property for the purposes of schools providing daycare to the school property that must have been both owned by the school and used for childcare on or before January 1, 2024. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans prioritized childcare in SB 2 which specifically addresses regulations that are hindering accessibility. Most of what is in the bill comes from recommendations from last year’s interim study committee of the Public Health Committee, establishing pilot “micro-facilities” which may increase access to care in previously underserved areas and provides a new format for child care settings. The bill also lowers the minimum age of childcare workers from 21 to 18 and also seeks to allow childcare workers access to childcare credits for their own children (a significant perk to employment) if they make 85% of the state’s median income. Finally the bill also includes a regulatory review and compensation study. There was very little opposition to the bill, as it now awaits a signature from Governor Holcomb.



Election Security

The controversial election security bill, HEA 1264, has gone to the Governor’s desk. The bill will require new voters to provide proof of residency when registering in person unless they submit an Indiana driver’s license or social security number that matches an Indiana record, which opponents say will be a challenge for college students, the homeless, and the elderly. The bill’s proponents, meanwhile, say that it will protect against voter fraud. The Governor signed the bill into law on March 11th.




HEA 1383 won the award for crossing the finish line first this year. The controversial measure rolling back wetland protections was sent to the Governor’s desk following a 32-17 vote in the Senate and received his signature on February 12th. Its passage was a win for builders and developers, but environmental groups opposed the bill throughout the process. The language will go into effect July 1, 2024.



Happy Hour

It looks like happy hour is coming back to Indiana. HEA 1086 was sent to conference committee back in late February after the Senate removed the carry-out cocktails provision. That language was restored, alongside the repeal of the ban on social hour drink discounts, gaining the approval of both chambers. If Governor Holcomb signs the bill, the measure will go into effect on July 1, 2024.


Foreign Land Transactions

A bill proposed to prohibit the sale or renting of certain Indiana property including agricultural land and that close to military installations is on its way to the Governor. Under HEA 1183 Chinese, Cuban, Iranian, North Korean, Russian, and Venezuelan entities—those deemed foreign adversary countries—would be barred from acquiring land, despite some concern about its potential effect on economic development opportunities. This measure builds on legislation from 2022, but also includes exceptions for dual citizens, lawful permanent residents, residential property rental, and lease renewals made before July 1, 2024 – a move to accommodate an existing property held by Syngenta, which was acquired by a Chinese company in 2017.


Dog Breeders

After a similar measure failed last year, HEA 1412 was introduced to set standards for canine breeders and the retail sale of dogs. Despite taking the controversial step of overturning 21 existing local ordinances that banned pet stores from selling dogs from breeding operations, the Governor signed the bill into law on Monday, March 4th.



SB 14 sought to give statewide office holders and their staff members permission to carry guns at the Statehouse, but failed to get a hearing in House Public Policy back in February following a 40-9 Senate vote. However, legislators found a new home for part of the measure in HEA 1084. In the final week of session, language to permit the attorney general, secretary of state, state comptroller, and treasurer of state to carry handguns was added to a CCR for an otherwise unrelated firearms bill. The final version only applies to the office-holders, not their staff members. The CCR ultimately passed with votes of 66-26 in the House and 39-9 in the Senate

In a move motivated by Governor Holcomb’s COVID-19 response, Senators took steps to limit executive emergency powers in SEA 234. The original version limited the Governor to a 30-day state of disaster emergency declaration with just one potential 30-day renewal if linked to federal funding, but the House Public Health Committee doubled those limits to 60 days each and removed the federal funding requirement. The House committee also limited these provisions to statewide emergencies where the Senate’s version had also applied at the county level. As session drew to a close, the Senate approved a motion to concur with the House changes along party lines. It is now up to Governor Holcomb to decide next steps.

In another controversial move, HEA 1338, a bill about security of property and meeting decorum, became the home for language that would limit the role of the state’s Public Access Counselor. The amendment was added in the Senate committee, meaning the public had no chance to testify on language that would change the role from having a fixed term that can only be ended early for cause, and limit what can be considered when issuing an advisory opinion. The bill passed in the Senate and the House concurred on the amended language, so the language will go into effect July 1, 2024 barring a veto.


Notable Bills That Died This Session

Despite being one of the most high-profile bills of the 2024 session, the Blue Line opposition language of SB 52 died after late-in-the-game negotiations took place between IndyGo and House leadership. SB 52’s demise leveraged promises from IndyGo to maintain two lanes of traffic flow in the Blue Line plan, but the Blue Line, which had appeared doomed days before, managed to escape a legislative death knell.

Language from SB 50, the bill to put chaplains in schools, had been inserted in HEA 1137 when the House committee refused to hear the measure, but a dissent was filed in the House when it returned for approval. That triggered a conference committee, and that body removed the chaplain language. Without the chaplain language, HEA 1137 was approved in both chambers.

In the final days of session, it looked like PFAS language from HB 1399 that had passed 64-30 in the House before “dying” in Senate committee might be revived. The first draft of HEA 1329’s CCR included the language, but it was ultimately removed in the second version that both chambers voted to approve. With the abandonment of that first CCR, the PFAS language officially died.


All Eyes On The Governor’s Bill Watch

Now that the 2024 legislative session has adjourned for the year, Torchbearer Public Affairs will be monitoring further action taken by the Governor on the hundreds of enrolled acts making their way to his desk. Once the bills hit the Governor’s desk, he has seven days to sign or veto the bill. If he does not sign the bill, it automatically becomes law on the eighth day after receipt. A reminder, a veto override consists of a simple majority—51 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate. You can view the Governor’s Bill Watch here.

This legislative session has been one for the record books, with many highs and lows, but one in which good public policy was made. A special thank you from us at Torchbearer Public Affairs for trusting us with your advocacy needs this year. We look forward to working with you in the interim (after we catch up on much needed sleep!)

Hendricks County Chambers Update

It was a productive session for the Hendricks County Chambers, with significant progress made on our two priorities - Workforce and Childcare. Let’s dig in …



HEA 1001 was the House Republican priority bill that was trailer legislation to last year’s HEA 1002 seeking to reinvent high school and creating career scholarship accounts (CSAs). Throughout the process, this legislation underwent many changes including:

  • Allowing for scholarship dollars to be used for driver’s education training (which stayed in)
  • Sharing of 21st Century Scholarship and O’Bannon Scholarship dollars with Career Scholarship Accounts (which was taken out)
  • Allows siblings of students who have Education Scholarship Accounts — a type of school choice program for students with disabilities — to qualify for their own ESA.

We anticipate that there may be more tweaks to the bill made in future sessions as the rollout fully takes place. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature, but we anticipate that it will be signed.



SEA 2, the bipartisan child care omnibus Senate Republican priority bill was the legislature’s attempt this year to address regulations that are hindering accessibility. Much of the bill comes from recommendations from last year’s interim study committee of the Public Health Committee:

  • Establishing pilot “micro-facilities” to hopefully increase access to care in previously underserved areas and provides a new format for child care settings
  • Lowers the minimum age of childcare workers from 21 to 18
  • Allows childcare workers access to childcare credits for their own children (a significant perk to employment) if they make 85% of the state’s median income.
  • Regulatory review and compensation study

The bill has not yet hit the Governor’s desk, but with very little opposition, we anticipate that this bill will be signed.

HEA 1102 authored by Rep. Dave Heine is legislation that makes modest regulatory changes and prohibits zoning ordinances being used specifically to prohibit home child care. However, when it was first introduced, it would have allowed providers to operate class 1 childcare homes with or without a license with corresponding regulatory oversight - which gave us heartburn. When the bill was presented to the Committee in the House, the Chairman offered a substantial amendment that would remove this problematic language and replaced it with more modest licensing changes and some limitations on the ability of local governments to use zoning ordinances to prohibit the operation of home-based childcare. The bill hit the Governor’s desk on March 12th, and he has until March 19th to sign, veto it, or let it go into law without his signature.

SB 147, a bill dealing with child care property tax exemptions not given a hearing before the committee report deadline, therefore this bill is dead for the session. Despite it still being eligible for conference committee, the language did not go into any bills. I am hopeful that the language will be reintroduced again in 2025.

We anticipate that the Legislative Council will meet on May 14th (also technical corrections day) in which we will learn topics for interim study committees. We will keep you posted on any issues that would be important to you. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.


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

Action Items

  • Happy interim!

Important Dates:


Tuesday, May 14th - Technical Corrections Day