2015 Legislative Session Final Report

015 Legislative Session Report

The 2015 session of the General Assembly ended seconds before the required midnight deadline on April 29th.  Although the budget bill was a primary focus, there were a number of other bills introduced with an effect upon the university.  Indiana University reviewed all bills introduced, which totaled 1,226.  Of those bills, the Government Relations team tracked 294 bills, of which 56 were enacted.  Overall, IU’s Government Relations team was very pleased with the outcome of the session. 

Bills That Were Enacted

The following is a listing of several of the bills that we tracked which were ultimately enacted.  Legislation passed by the General Assembly must be signed by the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro-Tem within 7 days of passage and then forwarded to the Governor for consideration within another 7 days.  Upon receipt of the bill, the Governor also has 7 days to sign, veto, or permit the legislation to be enacted without his signature (the latter option is rarely exercised).

HB 1001STATE 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. 

Further details concerning the biennial budget can be found here:


HB 1002 ETHICS – This bill updates the laws governing legislative ethics, lobbyist and legislative liaison reporting, and executive agency ethics. The bill does not affect how Indiana University reports expenses for legislative persons.

HB 1019 COMMON CONSTRUCTION WAGE AND PUBLIC WORKS - The bill repeals the state’s common construction wage statute, establishes new requirements for contractors awarded for public construction work, and increases the dollar threshold for which universities can use their own staff for small construction projects (from $150,000 to $300,000). 

HB 1042EDUCATION 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. IU testified in support of this bill during session.

HB 1045 RECREATIONAL FACILITY IMMUNITY - The bill provides 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.

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 provided expert testimony on 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. Indiana University worked with the bill’s author to develop language that would support current practices of IU Schools of Education.

HB 1188 STUDENT TEACHING - The bill requires a student teaching agreement to include a provision requiring a student who is required to complete a student teaching requirement to be supervised by a certificated employee that has been rated as either highly effective or effective on their latest annual performance evaluation. 

HB 1323 MEDICAL RESIDENCY 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 HIGHER EDUCATION FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE - The bill, sought by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, makes general revisions to state student financial assistance statute. 

This bill establishes the Indiana regional city fund to provide grants and loans to regional development authorities, with the intent of attracting people or business. It also updated the conditions under which a county or municipality may join a regional development authority.

HB 1466 VARIOUS PENSION MATTERS - 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 ISSUES - 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 101/SB 50 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION and ANTIDISCRIMINATION SAFEGUARDS – SB 50 was passed in response to concerns raised relative to SB 101, the Religious Restoration and Freedom Act.  SB 50 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. President McRobbie and Indiana University supported SB 50 as a clarification of the intent of SB 101.

SB 123 HIGHER 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. During the legislative session, IU provided testimony in support of this bill.

SB 293 MEDICAL PEER REVIEW - The bill, sought by IU, provides for use of a peer review committee by the IU School of Medicine and permits sharing of peer review information between a medical school peer review committee and another peer review committee. IU provided testimony in support of this bill during the legislative session.

SB 434 FINANCIAL AID AND 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.

SB 500 EDUCATION DEREGULATION - The bill contains numerous provisions related to deregulation of K-12 education.

SB 509 SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS - 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.

Bills That Died

A large number of the bills that were tracked by Indiana University did not make it through the legislative process and will not become law.  Below are a few of the bills that died this legislative session.

HB 1054 HIGHER EDUCATION CO-OP AND INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS - The bill would have established an Indiana Cooperative Education Pilot Program and made an appropriation. 

HB 1143 POSSESSION OF FIREARMS ON STATE PROPERTY - The bill would have prohibited 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 voided previously enacted rules or policy.

HB 1207/HB 1407 MERGER OF PUBLIC BENEFIT CORPORATIONS - The bills, which mirrored each other and were sought by IU, would have allowed a public benefit corporation to merge with a state educational institution.

HB 1222 STEM PATHWAY NETWORK - The bill would have established 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 established the STEM pathways fund to carry out the purposes of the STEM pathways programs and made an appropriation. 

HB 1231 ACCELERATED DEGREE PROGRAMS - The bill would have established a new program to provide funds to college programs that, along with specified requirements, permits a student to graduate at least 1 year ahead of schedule. 

HB 1262 RETURN AND COMPLETE GRANT - The bill would have established a grant fund to provide awards for Indiana residents who were previously enrolled in an Indiana postsecondary institution and earned some college credit, but had not yet earned an associate or baccalaureate degree.  The student would receive the grant upon completion of an associate or baccalaureate degree program. Although HB 1262 did not ultimately pass, an alternate version of "Return and Complete" language was added to HB 1001, the budget bill. This new language aimed to meet the intent of encouraging previous students to return to school, but did not allocate funding to support a grant fund as mentioned in HB 1262.

HB 1273 FINANCING OF IMPROVEMENTS FOR CARROLL STADIUM - The bill, as passed by the Senate, would have authorized 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. 

HB 1457 HIGHER EDUCATION - The bill, supported by IU and Purdue, would have permitted IU, Purdue, as well as Ball State, to hold equity in a private entity whose purpose is related to the benefit of students.  The bill also provided these institutions with the ability to merge or discontinue certain university based centers without court intervention.  Finally, the bill permitted the same institutions to establish university innovation districts, which would have been very similar to Certified Technology Parks, to generate funds for investing in research and technology transfer activities. 

HB 1467 PERFORMANCE FUNDING - The bill would have required the state’s performance funding formula to include a metric for rewarding 4-year institutions for graduating students in six years.

HB 1492 RESIDENT TUITION RATE FOR CHILDREN OF VETERANS – This bill would have allowed non-Indiana resident dependents to pay in-state tuition if their parents were veterans and Indiana residents.

HB 1627 INDIANA UNIVERSITY - PURDUE UNIVERSITY FORT WAYNE AS A METROPOLITAN CAMPUS - The bill would have designated Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne as a “metropolitan university” and, with such designation, authorize the campus to offer doctoral degrees and be eligible for “high impact degree” funding under the state’s performance funding formula, similar to the research intensive campuses.

HB 1641 PRINCIPAL ENDORSEMENT PROGRAM - The bill would have required Western Governors University Indiana to establish and maintain a program of study to provide principal endorsements to individuals who successfully complete the program. 

SB 259 STEM EDUCATION - The bill would have established the Dual Credit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Associate Degree Pilot Program, which would have led 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. 

SB 271 COLLEGE AND CAREER COUNSELING GRANT – The bill would have established the college and career readiness certificate grant to assist school counselors in obtaining a college and career readiness certificate from an approved postsecondary educational institution. The bill also required a postsecondary educational institution that accepted applicants to conduct research into the impact of certification on student outcomes.

SB 277 SCHOOL COUNSELORS - The bill would have required a school corporation to employ at least one school counselor at each elementary school, not including private or charter schools, maintained by the school corporation. 

SB 288 LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET NOTICES; PUBLIC RECORDS - The bill contained provisions concerning local government budget notices.  It included 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, expanded the list of items for which a state agency may not impose a fee under the public records law, and further regulated the public records fees that state agencies may charge.

SB 345 RESIDENT TUITION RATE – This bill would have allowed non-U.S. resident students who attended high school in Indiana for at least 3 years and graduated from a high school in Indiana to be eligible for resident tuition rate at state post-secondary institutions.

SB 356 WORK ETHIC CERTIFICATION AND GRANTS – This bill would have provided that a school corporation may establish a work ethic certification program under which a student who developed skills necessary for success in higher education or employment receives a work ethic certificate upon graduation. Would have required the State Board of Education to adopt rules concerning the certificate model in consultation with the workforce innovation council.

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. Although this bill was passed by the General Assembly, it was vetoed by the Governor.

SB 469 RURAL BROADBAND – This bill would have urged the legislative council to assign to the interim study committee on energy, utilities, and telecommunications the topic of the provision of affordable broadband services in unserved areas in Indiana.

SB 472 VARIOUS VETERANS' MATTERS - The bill would have extended 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 have established an open-ended appropriation for the program, meaning that the state would have met whatever level of funding was required. 

SB 492 VARIOUS PENSION MATTERS – This bill was essentially the same as HB 1466 described above, which was chosen to address the PERF matter, rather than this bill.

SB 496 PRIMARY CARE LOAN FORGIVENESS - The bill provided an enhanced loan forgiveness grant to primary care physicians serving in rural areas of Indiana. 

SB 533 VARIOUS VETERANS MATTERS - The bill would have made 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.