2015 Legislative Session
Indiana University Office of State Relations
State House Report 15
With the completion of committee hearings last week, all attention was focused on the floors of the House and Senate for 2nd and 3rd readings, the latter which had to be completed by Wednesday. Thus, both bodies spent many hours in their respective chamber finalizing work on remaining bills.
Another major event during the week was the release of the state’s updated revenue forecast. This forecast will guide budget negotiators during the conference committee process as they seek to reconcile differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the biennial budget and enact a budget that is balanced. Reflecting lagging tax collections during the first nine months of FY 2015, the forecast was decreased by the amount projected in December, 2014. A detailed report on the updated revenue forecast can be found at:
Bills that Moved Last Week
HB 1001 State Biennial Budget: The budget was amended on 2nd reading and passed on 3rd reading. The House author dissented and an initial conference committee was conducted on Friday.
HB 1019 Common Construction Wage: The bill would repeal the state’s common construction wage statute, establish new requirements for contractors awarded public construction work, and would increase the dollar threshold for which universities can use their own staff for small construction projects (from $150,000 to $300,000). The bill was amended on 2nd reading and passed the Senate.
HB 1042 Education Loan Information: The bill requires colleges and universities that enroll students who receive state financial aid to annually provide each student with certain information concerning the student’s educational loans. As previously reported, the provisions of this bill are largely based on IU’s highly successful student loan awareness program. The bill has been signed by the Governor and has become law.
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. The House concurred with the changes from the Senate. The bill will now head to the Governor for his signature or veto.
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’s author filed a dissent, and the bill will now move to conference committee.
HB 1333 State Student Financial Assistance: The bill, sought by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, makes general revisions to state student financial assistance statute. The bill passed 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 on 2nd reading and passed the Senate.
SB 123 Centers for Medical Education: The bill, sought by IU, as passed the Senate would update statute for references to the locations of the Indiana University School of Medicine Centers for Medical Education and a provision sought by IU to permit it to hold equity in a private entity. The bill’s author dissented on the changes to the bill made by the House and will be subject to the conference committee process.
SB 434 National Guard and Veterans Tuition: The bill requires higher education institutions to charge resident tuition for both undergraduate and graduate coursework to non-resident students serving in the Indiana National Guard. The bill would also extend resident tuition for graduate studies to certain veterans and persons serving on active duty (statute currently requires resident tuition on undergraduate coursework). The bill was signed by the Governor.
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.
SJR 19 Balanced Budget Amendment: The bill would amend the Indiana constitution to require state budgets to be balanced. The bill passed the House. In order for the amendment to be enacted, the same provision must pass a second General Assembly (in 2017 or later) and be approved by the electorate.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
For the remaining two weeks of the legislative session, the focus will be on considering concurrences, dissents, and the conference committee process. A bill that passes the second chamber without amendment is eligible for consideration by the Governor. A bill that is amended in the second chamber is subject to a decision by the bill author as to whether to concur (agree) with the changes to the bill or dissent (disagree). In the first case, a concurrence motion is filed and voted on by the original chamber. In the second case a dissent motion is filed and voted on and the conference committee process is initiated. Four conferees are appointed (as well as advisors) to work out differences between the House and Senate versions and when accomplished, a conference committee report is prepared and voted on by both chambers.