2015 Legislative Session
Indiana University Office of State Relations
State House Report 13
While the General Assembly dedicated much energy to developing and passing legislation to clarify the intent of SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, work continued on bills in committee and on the floors of both the Senate and House. Two more of IU’s regional campuses – Kokomo and East – hosted luncheon meetings with their legislative delegation, providing an opportunity for the Chancellors to update legislators on initiatives and successes on their campuses.
Bills that Moved Last Week
HB 1045 Recreational Facility Immunity: The bill would provide immunity for universities and K-12 schools for injuries occurring in recreational facilities if operators of such facilities fulfill duties and procedures specified in the bill. There bill was amended in committee and is now eligible for 2nd and 3rd reading on the floor of the Senate.
HB 1102 Patent Protection: The bill makes the practice of sending frivolous demand letters that claim patent infringement illegal in Indiana. Following the example of other states, most notably Vermont, this bill would provide protection to Indiana businesses from so-called “patent trolls.” The bill passed out of committee with an amendment exempting universities, university affiliated technology transfer organizations, and licensees of university patents. This exemption protects the good faith patent protection efforts of universities from any unnecessary legal defense costs. The bill is now eligible for 2nd and 3rd reading on the Senate floor.
HB 1273 Financing Improvements to Carroll Stadium: The bill, as amended in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, authorizes Indiana University to issue bonds for up to $20 million to make improvements to the existing Carroll Stadium in connection with a lease agreement for use of the stadium by the Indy Eleven professional soccer team. Vice President for Facilities, Tom Morrison, testified in support of the bill. The bill is awaiting 2nd and 3rd reading.
HB 1323 Graduate Medical Education: The bill would establish the medical residency fund to increase the number of funded residencies slots throughout Indiana. With the 30% increase in the size of each cohort at the IU School of Medicine, and with the impending graduation of students at the new Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, additional residency slots are essential to provide opportunities for graduates from both schools to remain in Indiana. The bill passed 2nd reading and is awaiting 3rd reading on the floor of the Senate.
HB 1466 Public Employee Pension System: The bill applies to entities, including IU, which established a new pension plan for new hires of certain employees while freezing participation in the state’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERF). The bill would require IU to make additional payments to the state to cover any increases in unfunded liability that results from freezing enrollment in PERF. The bill was amended in committee to essentially duplicate SB 492 (described below), and was referred (recommitted) to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
HB 1637 Various Education Issues: The bill makes changes to guidelines established by the State Board of Education to identify students who are likely to require remedial work at a postsecondary educational institution or workforce training program. The bill also removes the requirement that PSAT assessment scores be included in a student’s transcript. The bill is awaiting 2nd and 3rd reading on the floor of the Senate.
SB 50 Anti-Discrimination Guidelines: The bill was passed in response to concerns raised relative to SB 101, the Religious Restoration and Freedom Act. The bill provides that the law related to adjudicating a claim or defense that a state or local law, ordinance, or other action substantially burdens the exercise of religion of a person: (1) does not authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public; (2) does not establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public; and (3) does not negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana. The bill, included in a conference committee report, passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor. President McRobbie and Indiana University supported this legislation as a clarification of the intent of SB 101, and appreciate Statehouse leaders coming together to pass this important legislation.
SB 123 Centers for Medical Education: The bill, sought by IU, as passed by the Senate, would update statute for references to the locations of the Indiana University School of Medicine Centers for Medical Education. The bill was amended in committee to include a provision sought by IU to permit it to hold equity in a private entity. The bill passed the House and is awaiting a decision by the Senate author on whether to concur or dissent with the changes to the bill made by the House.
SB 288 Local Government Public Notices: The bill contains provisions concerning local government budget notices. The bill was amended in the House Local Government to include language that would authorize public agencies to charge a search and detection fee of up to $20 per hour for certain public information request efforts, expands the list of items for which an state agency may not impose a fee under the public records law, and further regulates the public records fees that state agencies may charge. Due to its fiscal impact, the bill was recommitted to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
SB 293 Medical Peer Review: The bill, sought by IU, would provide for use of a peer review committee by the IU School of Medicine and would permit sharing of peer review information between a medical school peer review committee and another peer review committee. This bill passed out of committee with no amendments and is now eligible for 2nd and 3rd reading in the House.
SB 492 PERF: The bill is essentially the same as HB 1466 described above. It was passed out of House committee without amendment and is now pending 2nd reading on the floor of the House.
SB 509 Adult Grant: The bill, sought by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, would replace the state’s current part time student grant program with a new adult learner grant program. It would also establish a new “economic priority sector” one-time grant for graduates of programs preparing students for employment in certain employment sectors. The bill is awaiting 2nd and 3rd reading on the floor of the House.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
The legislative session is winding down with just four weeks remaining before the statutory ending date of April 29. Next week is the last week for committee hearings on bills, so we expect a number of bills to be heard in advance of the deadline. An important event for IU will be HB 1001, the biennial budget, which will be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.