Indiana lawmakers concluded their 2018 short legislative session a little after midnight on March 14, having completed most of their legislative agenda and a lot of important work. Despite the productive session, Governor Holcomb has called for a special session in May to address school safety and federal tax compliance issues that failed to pass in the final few hours of session. For the entire session, the House introduced 456 bills and the Senate introduced 438 bills. Of these 894 bills, 210 (23 percent) were ultimately signed into law by Governor Holcomb.
The report below provides an in-depth look at individual bills and how they contribute to the top priorities of the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Holcomb. The report also goes into more depth about the special session agenda as well as the retirement of 16 Indiana legislators.
Governor’s Bill Signing
Once a bill has passed through both chambers of the General Assembly, it is sent to the Governor’s desk. The Governor may choose to sign, not sign or veto an enrolled act. If he does not sign the enrolled act, it will become law on the eighth day. If he vetoes a bill, it is sent back to the General Assembly where they can vote to uphold or defeat the veto with a simple majority. For the first time since 2012, Governor Holcomb signed all of the bills making it to his desk
Governor Holcomb’s Next-Level Agenda
In January, Governor Holcomb outlined his top priorities for lawmakers in his second annual State of the State address. His focuses, also known as his “five pillars,” included cultivating a strong and diverse economy, maintaining and building the state’s infrastructure, developing a skilled and ready workforce, attacking the drug epidemic and delivering great government service to take Indiana to the “next level.” In his post session press conference, Governor Holcomb said the legislature successfully addressed all of these goals, with the exception of regulating autonomous vehicles.
Cultivate a Strong and Diverse Economy
House Enrolled Act 1402 urges the legislative council to create a study committee related to providing property tax incentives for rental property owners who partner with nonprofit organizations to reduce veteran homelessness.
Senate Enrolled Act 257 clears up a sales tax issue by specifying that technology companies that sell software as a service are no longer required to collect sales taxes.
Maintaining and Building Infrastructure
House Enrolled Act 1065 creates a grant program for qualifying broadband deployment projects in unserved areas of the state.
House Enrolled Act 1267 creates a water infrastructure task force. The task force will study drinking water systems, wastewater management systems, storm water management systems and other issues. It will also create an empirical decision-making tool that will allow policymakers to prioritize water infrastructure projects and develop a long term plan for addressing drinking water, wastewater and storm water management needs in Indiana.
Senate Enrolled Act 362 states that a public utility, conservancy district, or regional water or sewage district that is organized as a legal entity providing water or wastewater service to the public is subject to the jurisdiction of the Indiana utility regulatory commission for 10 years, beginning on the day on which it is organized as a legal entity. It also establishes new requirements for water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants applying to the department of environmental management for the issuance or amendment of a permit, including a cost-benefit analysis, a capital asset management plan and a cybersecurity program.
Developing a Skilled and Ready Workforce
House Enrolled Act 1002 sets up the framework for a larger workforce development measure to be brought during next year’s budget session by requiring information on workforce related programs as part of the biennial budget report that is submitted to the governor and budget committee for preparation of the governor's proposed budget bill. It also establishes the next level jobs employer training grant program.
Senate Enrolled Act 50 gives Governor Holcomb the ability to create a workforce cabinet. The cabinet will develop a comprehensive career navigation and coaching system for Indiana and will require all high schools to participate in the career coaching program. The cabinet will be led by Danny Lopez, Governor Holcomb’s former deputy chief of staff. Last week, Governor Holcomb announced the appointments to the cabinet.
Fighting the Drug Epidemic
To fight the opioid epidemic, House Enrolled Act 1359 makes manufacturing or dealing certain controlled substances resulting in the death of a user a level 1 felony if the controlled substance is cocaine, methamphetamine, or a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance.
Senate Enrolled Act 13 allows community corrections officers and probation officers to administer an overdose intervention drug. It requires community corrections officers and probation officers to report the use of an overdose intervention drug to the emergency ambulance service responsible for reporting the use to the Indiana emergency medical services commission.
Senate Enrolled Act 74 updates the definition of “synthetic drug” by adding the substance Mexedrone to it and adds additional controlled substances to the existing statutory list of depressants, hallucinogens, and opiates classified as schedule I.
In order for the state to better regulate the prescription of opioids, Senate Enrolled Act 221 requires all prescribers of controlled substances to register with the INSPECT program prior to prescribing an opioid.
Deliver Great Government Service
In an effort to streamline government efficiency, House Enrolled Act 1003 repeals the requirement that the office of management and budget perform a cost-benefit analysis of certain rules for the three year period following the rules' effective dates and eliminates or consolidates various state agency reporting requirements.
House Enrolled Act 1004 allows the journals, enrolled acts, session laws and Indiana Code to be distributed in paper or electronic format. It also stipulates that copies of the journals, session laws and Indiana Code must be provided to public libraries located in Indiana that participate in the federal depository library program.
House Enrolled Act 1383 makes changes to election law.It requires the election commission to adopt an order consolidating precincts in Lake County having fewer than 600 active voters. It also makes changes to election operations in Marion County.
Bills of Significance From the 2017 Legislative Session
Thought to be one of the premier bills for the 2018 legislative session, Senate Enrolled Act 1 allows for the sale of alcohol at grocery, drug, convenience and liquor stores in Indiana on Sundays between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. March 4, 2018, marked the first time since prohibition that Indiana residents could purchase alcohol from these places on a Sunday.
Senate Enrolled Act 52 allows for the sale and use of cannabis-derived CBD oil across the state as long as it has a THC level that is .3 percent or lower. This bill solves the matter of the legality of CBD oil which has been a hot button issue, with even Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill getting involved.
Senate Enrolled Act 236 names Pyractomena angulata, also known as "Say's Firefly", as the official state insect of Indiana. Students from Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette have lobbied for several years to have the bug recognized. This year, Governor Eric Holcomb recognized their efforts and made it part of his legislative agenda.
House Enrolled Act 1017 adds spinal muscular atrophy and severe combined immunodeficiency to the list of disorders in the newborn screening requirements.
Known as the physician order for scope of treatment or “POST” bill, House Enrolled Act 1119 creates a hierarchy in cases where patients can’t make decisions for themselves. The hierarchy is as follows: spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling, grandparent and adult grandchild.
House Enrolled Act 1130 makes changes to professional licenses. The bill includes architects, dietitians, hearing aid dealers, massage therapists, medical students, podiatrists and third party logistic providers.
House Enrolled Act 1317 provides that a pharmacy or pharmacist has a right to provide individuals with information concerning the individual's cost share for a prescription drug. The bill also states that a pharmacy or pharmacist cannot be proscribed by a third-party administrator, a health insurer, or a health maintenance organization from discussing the information or from selling to the individual a more affordable alternative.
Senate Enrolled Act 142 requires the state department of health to establish a statewide maternal mortality review committee.
Senate Enrolled Act 360 requires the state department of health to establish a program to certify perinatal levels of care designations for licensed hospitals and birthing centers that provide birthing services and specifies requirements that must be met in order to operate as a perinatal center.
House Enrolled Act 1023 permits a municipal works board to waive the requirement in a sewage works contract and that a property owner releases the property owner's right to remonstrate against pending or future annexations by the municipality of the area served by the sewage works.
Senate Enrolled Act 411 amends a provision in the statute concerning the acquisition of distressed water or wastewater utilities to require that, upon filing a petition with the utility regulatory commission to include the cost differentials of the transaction as part of the acquiring utility company's rate base, the acquiring utility company must provide notice to its customers that the petition has been filed.
In the Governor’s post session press conference, he named House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Chairman David Ober as the next Commissioner of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The Indiana Republican Party announced the caucus to fill the remainder of Rep. Dave Ober's term will be April 26.
House Enrolled Act 1001 solves the school funding problem caused by increased enrollment by requiring the budget agency to transfer from the K-12 state tuition reserve account to the state general fund the amount necessary to cover the K-12 state tuition distribution amount if it exceeds the appropriated amount. That transfer will be limited to $25,000,000 in state fiscal year 2017-2018 and $75,000,000 for state fiscal year 2018-2019.
Senate Enrolled Act 65 requires each school corporation to allow parents to inspect student instructional materials related to human sexuality.
Senate Enrolled Act 172 establishes the next level computer science grant program and the next level computer science fund to award grants to eligible entities to implement teacher professional development programs for training in teaching computer science.
Bills That Failed to Pass
Not all of the bills debated and discussed in conference committees at the end of session advanced due to the statutory deadline. The following bills were not successful:
House Bill 1015 deals with unlawful indemnity agreements.
House Bill 1104 is a large department of local government (DLGF) bill that also included annexation language and alcoholic beverage matters.
House Bill 1125 is a fire department contract bill which creates minimum requirements for the negotiation of a contract between a municipality and an employee organization for fire department employees.
House Bill 1137 is a summer study committee bill urging the legislative council to assign to an appropriate interim study committee the task of studying the regulation of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products.
House Bill 1214 was originally a low THC hemp extract bill, but became the vehicle for gun legislation provision, including the repeal of the lifetime carry permit fee.
House Bill 1230 is a schools safety measure which requires DOE to maintain a link on the department's Internet web site providing parents and school officials with resources or best practices regarding the prevention and reporting of bullying and cyberbullying.
House Bill 1315 is a school financial management bill designed to help the struggling Muncie and Gary school corporations.
House Bill 1316 addresses IRS conformance, income tax issues, sales tax issues, economic development tax credits and 529 plan provisions.
House Bill 1341 is an attempt to put regulations on autonomous vehicles (AVs) in Indiana. It put forth a framework for AV regulations that would have established a statewide task group of state and local officials who could grant permits to companies that applied for AV testing in Indiana.
House Bill 1419 made changes to alcoholic beverage laws.
Senate Bill 164 is a motor vehicles bill that prohibits certain activities by an adjuster, insurer, insurance producer or other representative of an insurer in connection with a motor vehicle repair.
Senate Bill 242 is another large tax matters bill.
Senate Bill 243 establishes a task force to review state regulations regarding the licensure of acute care hospitals, sub-acute care hospitals and recovery centers in Indiana.
Governor Announces Special Session
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb called a special session for May 14, 2018, and is asking the legislature to address five issues:
Schools and School Safety
- Increase funding for the Indiana Secured School Fund by $5 million now and in FY19.
- Allow school corps to obtain funding advances for school security equipment and capital purchase.
- Provide Muncie Community School Corporation with one-time $12 million loan from the Common School Fund.
Federal Compliance Issues
- Conform with federal tax reform changes by updating state’s conformity date to Feb. 11, 2018
- Comply with IRS rules to protect federal taxpayer information and assure access to federal tax data
On April 2, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma released a statement regarding the special session. He said the 150-member legislature accomplished a lot, citing their ability to pass measures that funded public schools, expanded mental health initiatives and much more. Although the speaker isn’t happy about the calling of a special session, he admitted there is still work to be done.
On Friday, April 20, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long held a press conference about the special session. They specified the five bills that will be heard during the session:
- HB 1230- School safety measures
- HB 1315- School financial management
- HB 1316- Tax matters
- SB 242- Tax matters. Will be renamed 1242
- Technical correction bill with 23 corrections
They also announced that there will be a special legislative council meeting on May 7, 2018, to hear public testimony about the issues. Advanced copies of the bills will be released for public view on April 30 online.
Sixteen current legislators have announced their retirement from the Indiana General Assembly. Eight House Republicans (Baird, Beumer, Culver, Friend, Ober, Richardson, Smith, Washburne), five House Democrats (C. Brown, Kersey, Lawson, Pelath, Stemler) and three Senate Republicans (Eckerty, Long, Smith) are retiring.
Among these legislators is Senate President Pro Tempore David Long. In February, Senator Long announced his plans to retire in November. Long has served in the Senate for 22 years, the past 12 as the Senate leader, and his 30 years of public service include eight as a Fort Wayne city councilman prior to his service in the Senate.
The Legislative Council will meet in the coming months to decide what will be studied this summer, and then the General Assembly will turn their focus toward the 2019 session. Among their top priorities will be crafting the biennial budget, developing a more dynamic workforce development plan and furthering the fight against the opioid epidemic.
If you have any questions about the 2018 session, special session or the 2019 session do not hesitate to contact us.