The 2020 Indiana legislative session is in the home stretch with an end date coming as early as Wednesday.

A collection of business-related bills crossed the finish line this week and are headed to the Governor’s desk. Others are bound for conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions. Meanwhile, we are pushing for language from two dead bills to be inserted into others during the conference committee process.

Passed the General Assembly and on to the Governor:

  • House Bill 1002 (Teacher Evaluations), authored by Rep. Anthony Cook (R-Cicero), passed the full Senate this week 49-1 and is now headed to the Governor for signature. Opposed by the Chamber and other education reform advocates, the measure removes a current state requirement that local school districts’ educator evaluation systems be based, in part, on “objective measures of student achievement,” including Indiana’s ILEARN assessments. This change would preclude schools from using student assessment results – both overall performance and learning growth – in gauging the effectiveness of their classroom teachers. The Chamber believes jettisoning objective data-driven measures altogether in favor of subjective measures like classroom observations by school principals sends the message that “results don’t matter” and sets a troubling precedent for future progress in Indiana education.
  • House Bill 1009 (Various Welfare Matters), authored by Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), passed both the House and Senate unanimously. The measure provides that money earned by a student participating in a paid internship or related work-based learning experience does not impact the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits received by the student’s family. The Chamber fully supports this measure and believes work-based learning is key strategy in strengthening Indiana’s talent pipeline and supports removing barriers that could prevent students from engaging in these meaningful experiences.
  • House Bill 1059 (Sales Tax on Recreational Vehicles), authored by Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart, removes the impediments that Indiana RV dealerships face in sales to residents of eight states with which Indiana does not have reciprocity agreements regarding the collection of sales tax. The Chamber has repeatedly championed this bill as Hoosier dealerships are disadvantaged in competing with out-of-state dealers. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday and a motion to concur was filed Thursday.
  • House Bill 1082 (Various Higher Education Matters), authored by Rep. Robert Heaton (R-Terre Haute), was returned to the House this week, which approved the amended version from the Senate 91-0 on Wednesday. Supported by the Chamber, the measure makes a number of technical changes to state financial aid programs, including increased flexibility that enables students eligible for the EARN Indiana work-study program to participate in full-time internship opportunities during the summer term.
  • House Bill 1111 (Unemployment), authored by Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington), provides a new schedule of rates for calendar years after December 31, 2020, as well as new contribution rates for calendar years after 2020. The bill also reduces the number of schedules from nine to five. It also locks in rates through 2025 – currently Schedule E that will become the new Schedule C.  After 2025, the bill sets trigger amounts that could move the rates up or down based upon the balance of the trust fund. This week, HB 1111 passed the Senate 48-2 and a concurrence was filed in the House.
  • Senate Bill 5 (Health Provider Contracts), authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), prohibits health provider contracts from including provisions that prohibit providers from disclosing health care service claims data to employers providing the coverage. This Chamber-backed measure passed the House 94-0 on Wednesday, and a motion to concur was filed Thursday.
  • Senate Bill 427 (Provisional Occupational License), authored by Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon, says that spouses of military members shall receive a provisional occupational license in their profession upon establishing residency. On Monday, the House passed the Chamber-supported bill 89-0 and on Wednesday the Senate concurred 49-0.

No Dissent Filed Yet; Concurrence Still Possible:

  • House Bill 1006 (Regulation of Tobacco Products), authored by Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove), changes the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and strengthens the federal law, including penalties for violation. The Chamber has been a longtime supporter of this policy. The bill cleared the Senate this week 39-11.
  • Senate Bill 1 (Tobacco and Vaping Smoking Age), authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), changes the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 and strengthens the federal law, including penalties for violation. The Chamber has been a longtime supporter of this policy. The bill cleared the House this week 78-16.
  • Senate Bill 408 (Various Tax Matters), authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R- Markle), is the annual Department of Revenue bill. It cleared the House on Tuesday 91-2. It appears the House amendments made to SB 408, including some help for certified technology parks, could be concurred on and a conference committee may not be necessary. If a concurrence is in fact filed, it would constitute a somewhat rare event when it comes to these voluminous, multi-provisioned tax bills. They are often held until the waning hours in case a home is needed for bills or provisions that fall victim to the process.

Headed to Conference Committee for Final Debate (After Author Dissented on Changes Made by Other Chamber)

  • House Bill 1004 (Balance Billing for Medical Care), authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn), focuses on price transparency, including providing good faith estimates to patients for non-emergency services; an all-payer claims database; and efforts to remove employees/patients from surprise billing disputes. These are all items the Chamber has championed throughout the session and have garnered widespread support. The “site of service” language impacting hospitals (which the Chamber was neutral on and conveyed to legislators) was removed this week before the final Senate vote. The amended measure then passed the Senate 49-1 on Tuesday.
  • House Bill 1008 (Occupational Licensure Endorsement), authored by Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne), is a Chamber priority measure that unanimously cleared the Senate this week 50-0. Narrowed in focus, the bill now recognizes professional licenses obtained outside Indiana that are issued by 14 industry boards, including the medical licensing board, as well as cosmetology and barber examiners. While it’s a small first step, we are pleased that HB 1008 gives Indiana residents more opportunities to work in the jobs they are trained to perform and consumers of our state better access to professional services.
  • House Bill 1065 (Various Tax Matters), authored by Jeff Thompson (R- Lizton), became the go-to bill for a wide range of other miscellaneous tax issues that didn’t end up in the Department of Revenue or Department of Local Government Finance bills. Because of that, it sets the stage for the conferees to do a lot of sorting through, one section at a time. The bill passed the Senate 31-19 on Tuesday.
  • House Bill 1113 (Department of Local Government), authored by Rep. Dan Leonard (R- Huntington), is a lengthy conglomeration of local tax matters that passed the Senate 45-5 this week. Unlike the Department of Revenue bill, there are considerable differences between the House and Senate versions. It has been loaded up with numerous provisions that will require much conference committee discussion.
  • House Bill 1332 (Ambulatory Outpatient Surgical Centers), authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), provides that ambulatory outpatient surgical centers (ASCs) may be reimbursed in an amount not to exceed 275% of the ASCs Medicare reimbursement rate. Additionally, it provides that the payment to an ASC for a medical device under worker’s compensation may not exceed the invoice amount plus 3%. The amended bill also changed the hospital reimbursement to a “not to exceed” 200%. The Chamber testified in favor of the bill but specifically said that we were neutral on the part of the amendment that referred to hospital reimbursement. On Tuesday, HB 1332 cleared the Senate 48-0.
  • House Bill 1414 (Retirement of Electric Generation Facilities), authored by Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), was amended last week to allow for the results of the Chamber’s forthcoming energy study and the recommendations of the 21st Century Energy Task Force to be taken into consideration before any significant energy legislation can be rolled out in 2021. The biggest thing that the legislation now does is help train/retrain displaced workers for other jobs due to the shutdown of a large generation facility. The potential for increased rates due to large amounts of fuel being stockpiled was eliminated. The potential to interfere with the utilities’ ability to make sound utility business decisions is also gone. The Chamber is supportive of the bill in this form.
  • House Bill 1419 (Governor’s Workforce Cabinet), authored by Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), adds members to the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, including additional representatives from K-12 and higher education. While we are awaiting final language in a conference committee report, we anticipate that the Chamber also will have a seat on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet along with the Indiana Manufacturers Association. That language was originally included in the House version of the bill but was later removed by the Senate. Regardless, the Chamber remains supportive of the bill’s intent to better align Indiana’s education and workforce systems by giving more key stakeholders – particularly the state’s business community – a voice on these critical workforce issues.
  • Senate Bill 241 (Pharmacy Benefit Managers), authored by Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), addresses concerns with the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The Chamber has consistently said that less regulation on PBMs is the best route because employers use PBMs to negotiate drug prices and assist employees in drug adherence. The House made it clear last week that it was seeking transparency regarding PBMs. The Chamber believes SB 241 is the best version of PBM legislation this session. The House unanimously passed the bill 96-0 on Tuesday.
  • Senate Bill 319 (Practitioner or Accomplished Practitioner License), authored by Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), passed the House chamber this week with amendments on a 96-0 vote. Now headed to conference committee, it reverses a legislative mandate from last year recommended by the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet. The legislation makes it optional, not required, that Indiana teachers earn a portion (15 hours) of their professional growth points for license renewal through a range of activities aimed at increasing career awareness. The Chamber would support providing teachers with greater flexibility and additional options to help but making it optional altogether all but ensures that it will be underutilized. Thus, our current position on the measure is opposed. Equipping teachers to help bridge this knowledge gap through intentional professional development is both reasonable and relevant to student success in a 21st century economy.
  • Senate Bill 438 (Regulation of Pesticide Use and Application), authored by Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), creates the civil penalty advisory panel to study and recommend a system for use in determining the civil penalties that may be imposed for a violation of the laws governing pesticide use and application. An amendment establishes a new schedule of civil penalties in statute, which are significantly higher and requires the state chemist to impose the penalties. The Chamber’s overriding concerns are for unintended impacts on lawn care companies as well as other businesses that use/apply pesticides. We are currently working with the Senate author and the author of the House amendment to resolve the Chamber’s concerns.
  • Senate Bill 350 (Central Indiana Development Authority), authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), is a Chamber priority bill that establishes a central Indiana development authority to be managed by a codified Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization. The Chamber supports SB 350 and believes it’s a model that other state regions can use to gain access to capital and establish a pipeline of investable, quality-of-place projects and programs. The measure passed the House 94-0 on Tuesday.

Dead Bills, But Language Still Looking for Home:

  • Senate Bill 223 (Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA), authored by Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), would require Indiana high school seniors to file for student financial aid with an opt-out option that allows the requirement to be waived by the student’s parent or principal. The goal is to increase student awareness and access to grants and scholarships that can help Hoosiers earn industry-recognized credentials and degrees with reduced or no debt. This is a priority measure for the Chamber and has support on both sides of the aisle, but it died last week in the committee process due to unrelated matters. We are strongly encouraging legislators to find a home for the FAFSA language during next week’s conference committee negotiations.
  • Senate Bill 264 (Certified Technology Parks), authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), would increase the financial award distributed to high performing certified technology parks (CTPs) and offers a friendlier “new base year” for the CTP’s incentive calculation. The Chamber testified in support of the measure and is actively advocating for its inclusion in another bill before session ends. A portion of this bill has been incorporated into SB 408.

 Dead Bill Likely Not Coming Back:

  • Senate Bill 262 (Film and Media Production Incentives), authored by Sen. Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne) passed the full Senate 47-2 on February 4 but died last week during the House committee process. There was a prevailing sentiment that the bill’s intent – to establish framework for a future financial incentive to be issued by the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) as a means to attract film, TV and media production to Indiana – could be implemented by the IDDC itself without legislative involvement. However, the concept was inserted as a study committee into HB 1065.