State House Report 5 - 2015

2015 Legislative Session

Indiana University Office of State Relations

State House Report 5

 

Introduction

Once again, it was a very busy week at the State House with numerous committee hearings and a growing list of bills handled on the floors of the Senate and the House.

Bills that Moved Last Week

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. The provisions of this bill are largely based on IU’s highly successful student loan awareness program.  The bill was called for a 2nd reading on the House floor and was engrossed without amendments.  The bill is now eligible for a 3rd reading on the floor of the House.

HB 1045 Recreational Facilities Immunity:  The bill lists the duties and responsibilities of both the users and the operator of a recreational facility (K-12 school or postsecondary educational institution) and provides that the operator of a facility who fulfills the operator's duties and responsibilities has a complete defense to a civil action. IU supported the bill and has been working with the author.  The bill passed the House.

HB 1222 STEM Pathway Network: The bill establishes the STEM pathways program to provide education support and provide curricular to support schools and provide professional development and evaluation tools for schools and teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  The bill also establishes the STEM pathways fund to carry out the purposes of the STEM pathways programs and makes an appropriation.  The bill passed the House Education Committee and is now eligible for a 2nd reading on the House floor.

HB 1231 Accelerated Degree Program: The bill provides for a higher education award for students who participate in an accelerated degree program.  The bill appropriates $1,000,000 in state fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to the Commission for Higher Education to award grants to state educational institutions for implementing 36 month baccalaureate degree programs approved by the Commission.  The bill passed out of the House Education Committee and was, because of the amount of new spending proposed, recommitted to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

HB 1333 State Financial Assistance Programs:  The bill would make technical corrections to state student financial assistance programs administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  IU has conferred with the Commission on the bill and supports the revisions.

HB 1349 Various Tax Matters:  The bill includes numerous revisions to Indiana tax statute, including the termination of the college donation tax credit.  The bill was heard in committee and IU testified against terminating the credit and provided evidence on how the credit helps encourage a lifelong habit of giving by graduates.  The bill was held for further committee action.

SB 434 Veterans Tuition and Financial Assistance:  In addition to other provisions, the bill would require institutions to extend resident tuition to graduate programs for certain veterans, persons serving on active military duty, Indiana National Guard members, and Purple Heart recipients.  The bill passed the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Committee but was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

SB 472 National Guard Supplemental Grant Program:  The bill would extend the state’s National Guard Supplemental Grant to the Indiana Reserve Component of the armed forces, increasing the amount of state funding required.  The bill also would establish an open-ended appropriation for the program, meaning that the state would meet whatever level of funding required. 

SB 492 Various Pension Matters:  The bill applies to entities which established a new pension plan for certain new employees while freezing participation in the state’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERF).  The bill would such entities, including IU, to make additional payments to the state to cover any increases in unfunded liability that results from freezing enrollment in PERF.  After being heard in the Senate Pension and Labor Committee last week, the bill was heard in Senate Appropriations Committee and IU testified.  The bill was amended during the committee hearing and is now eligible for 2nd reading on the Senate floor.

SB 533 Various Veterans Matters:  The bill would make several revisions to the state’s Children of Disabled Veterans program, which provides a state funded tuition benefit to children of disabled veterans, as well as police and firefighters. The bill passed the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Committee but was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

SB 500 Education Deregulation: The bill, which contains numerous provisions related to deregulation of K-12 education, contains a provision that would authorize public agencies to charge a search and detection fee of $20 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.  The bill was amended in the Senate Education Committee.

Looking Ahead to Next Week

The legislative session is proceeding rapidly with 5 of 17 weeks completed.   Next week will be full of committee hearings on introduced bills, so we expect to spend many hours in hearings as authors and Chairman attempt to move as many bills as possible.  We will spend much of that time attending House Ways and Means, Senate Appropriations, and both the House and Senate Education Committee meetings, as well as a select number of other committee hearings, depending on whether certain bills are being heard. Additionally, as the House and Senate floor calendars swell with more and more bills, we are increasingly turning our attention to reviewing 2nd reading amendments on bills that we are tracking.