Senate Bill 162 (Chronic Pain Management), authored by Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), was amended on second reading this week to better define chronic pain. While it’s not what we would call a good bill, it has been changed to where it is about as good as we are going to get it (it’s still a mandate, however, which we oppose). Subsequently, the legislation passed the House 94-2.  The most likely scenario is Sen. Messmer now concurring on the bill and the Senate holding a concurrence vote.

House Bill 1444 (Taxation of Electronic Cigarettes), authored by Rep Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee this week 12-1, but not before significant amendment. Language was added that imposes an excise tax on e-cigarettes in the amount of 20% of the gross retail income. It also deposits any new revenue into the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bill’s lone no vote came from Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville). The Chamber previously testified in favor of e-cigarettes being taxed on par with tobacco products and is supportive of the revised measure.

House Bill 1341 (Occupational Safety and Health), authored by Rep. Martin, Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne), was concurred on unanimously by the House and now heads to the Governor to sign. This Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration bill stemmed from the 2018 horrific death of a woman in a plastic press machine. The legislation assesses a penalty on an employer who knowingly violates any standard, rule or order where the violation can reasonably be determined to have contributed to the death of an employee. The assessed civil penalties could range from $9,472 to $132,598 for each violation. In looking at the last two years, the number of penalties assessed would probably be very small, with one “knowing violation” fatality in 2017 and two in 2018. The Chamber worked to keep the bill narrowly focused and in a manner in which we could be supportive, because accidents like the one in Fort Wayne should never occur.

House Bill 1180 (Pharmacy Benefit Managers), authored by Rep. Martin, Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne), has been moved by the Senate Insurance Committee 6-2, but not without change that the Chamber views as negative. The bill left the House as a summer study committee on pharmacy benefit managers, but Senate sponsor Travis Holdman (R-Markle) supported an amendment offered in committee to take the bill back to a full-blown regulatory scheme as originally introduced. Ironically, the Republicans voted for more regulation and the Democrats voted against it. The Chamber believes the bill, as it stands, amounts to overregulation with no attempt to reduce costs, which is imperative, and will be communicating that to senators before any floor vote.

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