On the federal front – On February 11, the Indiana Chamber’s Greg Ellis and Jeff Brantley met with U.S. Sen. Mike Braun in his Indianapolis office. The Chamber highlighted key issues that its membership has identified. Some of those issues include the continued concern over tariffs/trade, the negative impacts of a medical device tax and general tax issues. Senator Braun also highlighted areas of interests that he is looking into – health care, infrastructure, tax issues and the federal budget, among others. The senator said that he looks forward to working with the Chamber and its members. We conveyed our appreciation for the meeting and establishing good lines of communication on matters most important to the Hoosier business community.
House Bill 1404 (School Accountability), authored by Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero), passed committee this week 8-4. The Chamber-backed measure aims to align the state’s A-F school accountability system, which is currently based on standardized test scores and graduation rates, with metrics more closely linked to students’ long-term success.
House Bill 1410 (Wage Assignments for Uniform Rentals), authored by Rep. Jack Jordan (R-Bremen), was removed from the House calendar on Thursday. The Chamber-supported bill provides that a wage assignment may be made to pay for the rental or use of uniforms as well as the purchase of equipment needed for a job. The reason for the bill being pulled: House Republicans are waiting on a similar measure, SB 99 (which passed the Senate 49-0). Look for SB 99 to be heard in the House Labor Committee and amended to be retroactive to 2015 as HB 1410 was. This is an important bill to companies that may rent clothing for their employees. The Chamber will be working to secure a hearing in the House Labor Committee; Chairman Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) is the main House sponsor.
House Bill 1182 (Worker’s Compensation), authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), was unanimously passed by the House 91-0. This Chamber-supported bill clarifies who is responsible for worker’s compensation for volunteer firefighters (it wouldn’t be employers). The Senate sponsor is Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville), who is also chairman of the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee. The Chamber anticipates this bill will be moving in the Senate and will be pushing to ensure that happens.
Environmental Rules Board Rulemaking Concerns Addressed – The Indiana Environmental Rules Board (ERB) convened on February 13 to vote on pending rules and deal with other matters. Prior to the meeting, the Chamber contacted the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) with concerns over Draft Rule #18-481. This rulemaking proposes amendments to 329 IAC 3.1 that would update the hazardous waste rules to be consistent and equivalent with recently promulgated federal hazardous waste rules; it also proposes technical amendments, clarifications and corrections to existing hazardous waste rules. Essentially, it adopts sections of the Code of Federal Regulations. What was unclear is whether they were the most up-to-date standards and were, therefore, no more stringent that current federal law. IDEM pulled the rulemaking from the ERB agenda for further review. The proposed rule will be heard at the ERB’s May 2019 meeting.
House Bill 1580 (Coverage for Ectodermal Dysplasia Treatment), authored by Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster), died in committee 5-6. Originally the bill was not to be voted on. This health mandate would have required a state employee health plan, a policy of accident and sickness insurance, and a contract with a health maintenance organization to provide coverage for treatment of ectodermal dysplasia. The Chamber opposed the bill due to the mandate; we were the only organization to testify on the bill.