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Halfway Through The 2017 Legislative Session
Updated March 13, 2017 7:32 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The 2017 legislative session is now more than half over. All bills that are moving forward have advanced to their opposite chambers so the committee and floor process can begin again.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families takes this as an opportunity to review the slate of proposed working-family friendly bills, noting both the bills that are successfully moving forward (potential victories) and the bills that have died (missed opportunities).

If your legislator authored one of the "missed opportunities" bills, you might consider thanking that member for proposing the legislation and encouraging that legislator to bring the issue forward again in the 2018 session.

SNAP & TANF
(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program & Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
Ensuring families have the ability to rebound after difficult times is a priority for the Institute. Two bills are moving forward that will provide the assistance families need.

We look forward to working with the House to get these to the governor's desk:

SB 9 will make SNAP benefits available to those who have certain drug convictions (similar to how those benefits are open to other former offenders), as long as they are in compliance with parole or probation.

SB 154 will raise the asset limits in determining SNAP eligibility to $10,000, allowing families to save while still receiving the assistance they need.

While it is encouraging to see these bills move on, there were several missed opportunities in this area, including:

  • HB 1151 SNAP Benefits (authored by Rep. Joe Taylor, III)
  • HB 1399 Low-cost Food Plan (authored by Rep. Linda Lawson and Rep. Robin Shackleford)
  • SB 527 TANF Eligibility (authored by Sen. Mark Stoops)
  • SB 528 Removal of Asset Limits for SNAP Eligibility (authored by Sen. Stoops)

Paid Leave

The following bills are missed opportunities relating to paid leave:

  • HB 1183 Employee Paid Sick Leave (authored by Rep. Lawson)
  • HB 1442 Paid Sick and Safe Leave (authored by Rep. Gregory Porter)
  • HB 1528 Personal Leave for Employees (authored by Rep. Ryan Dvorak)
  • SB 3 Paid Personal Leave (authored by Sen. Lonnie Randolph)
These bills would have required a method for granting sick or personal time or, at the least, a study committee. Thankfully, SB 253, which urges a study committee on paid family and medical leave, has moved forward and will hopefully start a meaningful conversation among legislators about how Indiana can support employees and their careers during challenging personal times.

Payday Lending

SB 245, a bill that would have expanded dangerous, high-interest payday products, was defeated in committee, thanks to the work of the Institute and 18 others who came to testify against the bill. Unfortunately, the language from SB 474, which would have provided increased disclosures and a low-amount, extended-payment plan for payday loans, was amended into that bill and died with it.

Child Care Tax Credit

SB 364 Child Care Tax Credit (Stoops) would have provided a non-refundable credit, while the SB 526 Child Care Tax Credit (Stoops) would have provided a refundable tax credit. The former saw some movement and had the support of the Institute, but it did not make it out of committee. We hope this issue can be addressed in future sessions as child care is increasingly expensive in Indiana.

Workforce Development

HB 1267 Former Offenders (Shackleford) is legislation on a statewide "Ban the Box." Instead, the state is going the opposite direction as SB 312 moves forward, banning local fair-hiring ordinances.

Some other missed opportunities include several bills that would have provided grants or tax credits for workforce development, making portable credentials more attainable for high-wage, high-demand jobs:

  • HB 1322 Employee-training tax credits (authored by Rep. Edward Clere & Rep. Todd Huston)
  • HB 1397 Work-opportunity grant program (authored by Rep. Wendy Mcnamara & Rep. Porter)
  • SB 141 Tax credit for hiring certain individuals (authored by Sen. Randolph)
  • SB 330 Career-readiness improvement committee (authored by Sen. John Ruckelshaus)
  • SB 560 Work-opportunity grant program (authored by Sen. Douglas Eckerty)
  • However, HB 1008, which includes some workforce-development grants, is advancing.

Pre-Kindergarten

Two pre-kindergarten bills are moving forward - HB 1004 Pre-kindergarten Education (authored by Rep. Robert Behning) and SB 276 Pre-kindergarten Education (authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, Sen. Eric Bassler and Sen. Randall Head). These bills expand upon the Pre-K pilot that is currently running in Indiana. As these move forward, the Institute will keep the importance of Head Start funds and services in the conversation.

One missed opportunity is SB 325 Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Program (authored by Sen. Stoops), which would have repealed the pilot and invested millions in Pre-K for the state.

Wrapping it Up

To see what the rest of the 2017 Legislative Session holds, join our mailing list. You'll receive weekly updates, including a link to our weekly Inside the Statehouse blog post where these issues are covered in detail. You'll also receive action alerts to help potential victories become true victories!



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