House Bill 1406 (Water Infrastructure Funding), authored by Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), cleared the House Ways and Means Committee 22-0 on Thursday and now is ready for the full House. This Chamber priority bill annual appropriates $20 million to the Water Infrastructure Fund from the general fund, beginning next July. The bill also promotes sustainability of water resources and attempts to keep costs as low as possible.
House Bill 1182 (Worker’s Compensation), authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), is now on third reading with a floor vote in the House expected next week. This Chamber-supported measure clarifies who is responsible for worker’s compensation for volunteer firefighters, as well as includes a provision increasing on-the-job death benefits to $12,500. The Chamber does not anticipate any problems with the passage of the bill.
Senate Bill 629 (Cause of Action for Employer Retaliation), authored by Sen Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne), had been scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday in Senate Judiciary. However, the Chamber and others discussed with Sen. Busch the problems concerning his bill; most particularly, the cause of action for an employee against an employer. After several discussions, we were unable to come to an agreement on something that was workable. As a result, Sen. Busch asked committee chairman Randy Head (R-Logansport) to pull the bill from the committee agenda. We expect the bill to be dead for the remainder of the session. The Chamber spoke with Sen Busch after his decision and he was very gracious and indicated, “My intent was never to hurt employers.”
Senate Bill 460 (Broadband Development), authored by Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), was amended and then passed unanimously by the Senate Utility Commission. The Chamber testified in support of the amended version. The bill now no longer contains many of the provisions contained in the introduced version that may have subjected telecommunication stakeholders, which are exempt under federal regulations, to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission regulations.