2015 Legislative Session
Indiana University Office of State Relations
State House Report 1
Welcome to the first of many weekly reports produced by Indiana University’s Office of State Relations to provide updates on the 2015 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly. Through these reports, we attempt to provide concise information on the major events that occurred during the past week and key information about the progress of legislation monitored by the State Relations Team.
The 119th session of the Indiana General Assembly began on Tuesday, January 6. The 2015 legislative session is the “long” session during which the biennial budget is the most critical bill to be considered by the legislature. By statute the session must be completed by April 29.
Most long sessions begin slowly but the first week of the 2015 legislative session was intense. In addition to approximately 450 bills being introduced in both the House and Senate, the Governor’s biennial budget recommendations were presented to the State Budget Committee.
Governor’s Budget Recommendations
Indiana statute requires the Governor to present biennial budget recommendations to the State Budget Committee at the beginning of the long legislative session. Typically these recommendations are incorporated into the introduced version of HB 1001, the biennial budget bill, beginning the process of legislative deliberation on a new state budget. Here’s how IU fared under the recommendations.
- The Governor’s budget would increase the level of performance funding to 7% of total university operating appropriations, as recommended by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE).
- The amount of new state dollars above the FY 2015 appropriation base is increased by 1% in FY 2016 and 2% in FY 2017.
- For the IU system, operating funds would increase over the FY 2015 appropriation level by 3.0% in FY 2016 and 4.3% in FY 2017.
- Cash funding was recommended for the following two projects:
- IUB Old Crescent Renovation-Phase II $48.5 million
- Evansville Academic Health Science (IU’s portion) $19.2 million
- State R&R funding is recommended at a level of $22.1 million for the biennium, about $2.6 million less than the ICHE recommendation.
The budget recommendations mark the first step in a long process of deliberation by the General Assembly leading to final passage of a biennial budget in late April. The House will first pass its version of a budget in February and the Senate will pass its version in late March or early April. The state revenue forecast will be updated in mid-April preceding conference committee negotiations on a final budget, which involve negotiations to resolve differences between the House and Senate passed budgets. Thus, the budget has a long legislative road to travel before reaching its final destination.
The IU State Relations team reviews every bill that is introduced and makes a determination as to whether the bill could impact the university. The team also uses nearly 100 IU expert bill reviewers to assist in reviewing bills.
Here’s a summary of some of the bills that were introduced during the first week of the legislative session that IU will be tracking:
1042 Education Loan Information: The bill requires a postsecondary educational institution that enrolls students who receive certain types of state financial aid to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student’s educational loans.
1054 Higher Education Co-Op and Internship Programs: The bill establishes the Indiana Cooperative Education Pilot Program as well as a fund for the program and an appropriation to this fund.
1143 Possession of Handguns on State-Owned Property: The bill prohibits a state agency, including a state supported college or university, from regulating the possession or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories on land or buildings that are owned or leased by the state, with certain exemptions and voids previously enacted rules or policy.
259 Dual Credit STEM Education: The bill establishes the Dual Credit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Associate Degree Pilot Program, which would lead to secondary school students receiving an associate degree in a STEM related field from a state educational institution before the student graduates from high school.
345 Resident Tuition Rate: The bill provides that an individual who attend an Indiana high school for at least three years, registers as an entering student or is currently enrolled in a state educational institution not earlier than the fall semester of the 2015-16 academic year, and has graduated from an Indiana high school is eligible for the resident tuition rate upon verification that the individual meeting otherwise meets criteria to receive the resident tuition rate.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
A signature event next week will be the Governor’s annual State of the State Address Tuesday evening. In his address, the Governor is likely to report on the progress he feels the state is making as well as discuss his legislative priorities.
The deadline for filing introduced bills also occurs next week and we expect many more bills to be introduced prior to that deadline. As more bills are filed, committee hearings on bills will ramp up. And speaking of committee hearings, President McRobbie is scheduled to present IU’s biennial budget request to the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.