State House Report 17 - 2015

2015 Legislative Session

Indiana University Office of State Relations

State House Report 17



After an intense four months, the General Assembly completed the legislative session at the stroke of midnight on April 29, as required by statute.  The biennial budget, the only legislation that absolutely must be enacted, was the last bill considered. 

It was an interesting final three days of the legislative session as legislators worked hard to finalize conference committee reports and final votes were taken on the floor of each chamber. In addition to the biennial budget, many other bills tracked by IU were also passed in the last few days of the session, as described below.

Bills that Passed Last Week

HB 1001 State Biennial Budget:  The bill includes appropriations for all state agencies and related entities, including the public universities for the two year period beginning July 1, 2015.  IU is very pleased with the appropriation levels for its campuses as well as capital projects authorization and funding included in the bill.  Our campuses generally do well on the performance funding formula, reflecting improved persistence and graduation rates by our students. 

A detailed description of the biennial budget can be found at: State Report Summary of Enacted Biennial Budget 2015.html

A listing of the appropriations for each public institution can also be found at:

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, this bill provides protection to Indiana businesses from so-called “patent trolls.”  IU testified in support of the bill during the session.

HB 1108 Dyslexia: The bill requires an individual seeking an initial elementary school teacher practitioner’s license to demonstrate proficiency in recognizing a student that is not progressing in reading at a normal rate may need to be referred to the school’s multidisciplinary team to determine the student’s special learning needs, including learning related to dyslexia. 

HB 1323 Graduate Medical Education:  The bill establishes the medical residency fund to increase the number of funded residencies slots throughout Indiana.  Due to the 30% increase in the size of each cohort at the IU School of Medicine, and 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.  IU testified in support of the bill during the session.

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. 

HB 1466 Public Employee Pension System:  Among other provisions, 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 requires IU to make additional payments to the state to cover any increases in unfunded liability that results from freezing enrollment in PERF.  IU was engaged in the development of the bill throughout the session.

HB 1637 Various Education Matters: The bill, which relates to K-12 education, 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 and also removes the requirement that PSAT assessment scores be included in a student’s transcript.  In addition, the bill requires the state superintendent to include higher education representatives with subject matter expertise in academic committees appointed to assist in the review of K-12 academic standards.

SB 123 Centers for Medical Education:  The bill, sought by IU, updates statute for references to the locations of the Indiana University School of Medicine Centers for Medical Education throughout the state. 

SB 369 Publication and Internet Posting of Information: The bill, which relates to public access, contains a provision that would authorize public agencies to charge a search and detection fee of $20 per hour for certain public information requests, expands the list of items for which a state agency may not impose a fee under the public records law, and further regulates the public records fees that state agencies may charge.

SB 509 Adult Grant: The bill, sought by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, replaces the state’s current part time student grant program with a new adult learner grant program.

SB 566 Education: The bill, which contains numerous provisions related to K-12 education, contains a provision that requires the Department of Education to establish a program to permit an individual with a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and a minor in education to obtain a teaching license.  The bill also provides that the State Board of Education may not adopt Common Core standards or an assessment or test that is produced solely by the US government or a consortium of states and contains a provision urging the Legislative Council to assign to an interim study committee the task of studying whether the ISTEP testing program should be replaced with an alternative statewide K-12 assessment.

SJR 19 Balanced Budget Amendment:  The bill would amend the Indiana constitution to require state budgets to be balanced.  In order for the amendment to be adopted, the same provision must pass a second General Assembly (in 2017 or later) and be approved by the electorate.

Final Thoughts

Of the approximately 1,200 bills introduced during the session, IU tracked 289 bills and 56 of the tracked bills passed. The State Relations Team believes we had a very successful year and many of the bills in which we actively supported were passed.

As always, we wish to thank the over 100 expert bill reviewers who assisted us in the initial review of introduced bills as well as additional assistance throughout the legislative session.  IU’s legislative success is in part due to the vast experience and expertise that exists throughout the IU system.

This will be the final legislative report for 2015.  We look forward to reporting to you again when the 2016 short legislative session begins next January.