House Bill 1181 – Asbestos Litigation
Authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne)

This bill is a streamlined version of what was presented at the onset of session last year. Gone is the provision regarding the statute of repose for the Indiana Product Liability Statute. It now focuses solely on having individuals disclose during legal proceedings what trusts they have made a claim to and what trusts they believe they are entitled.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: No action was taken on the bill following testimony Monday. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Torr (R-Carmel), who is also the bill’s co-author, held it for possible amendments next week and further consultation with the Senate.

Chamber Action/Commentary: We testified that this is a priority bill for the Indiana Chamber and of particular concern for our members in the manufacturing sector. Asbestos lawsuits can cost a company millions in damages and legal expenses. A big reason is this trust information, which could stop these costs from ballooning, is not being disclosed at trial.

The Chamber hopes Rep. Torr’s approach of talking things through with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is where the bill met its demise last year after clearing full the House, will ultimately lead to greater buy-in from that group this time around.

House Bill 1062 – Unemployment Matters
Authored by Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington)

Contains the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) annual unemployment insurance (UI) corrections, plus seeks to permanently remove a cap on fund disbursement.

Chamber Position: Support in Part

The Latest: Testimony was given in the House Employment Pension and Labor Committee on Tuesday; the bill was held with possible amendments and full vote next week.

Chamber Action/Commentary: The technical aspects of this bill are needed and the Chamber has no issues with those. However, we expressed concern about permanently removing the cap on the Special Employment and Training Services Fund, commonly referred to as the Penalty and Interest Fund (P&I). These dollars come from employers’ penalties and interest from unemployment insurance. The Chamber believes any excess from P&I should go to support the Unemployment Trust Fund and keep it healthy for a potential economic downturn. However, the Chamber is meeting with DWD next week to see if there is valid rationale for removing the cap, such as the ability to secure more money for the UI Trust Fund. We are keeping an open mind and will be supportive of whatever keeps the UI Trust Fund more robust.

The cap was temporarily removed in 2017 and will be put back on June 30 if no action is taken in the interim.

Separately, an amendment expected to be offered next week would cap the timeframe at 10 years for DWD to investigate a possible fraud case for unemployment insurance. The Chamber believes this is an appropriate amount of time for the state to collect evidence of abuse.

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or e-mail: [email protected]