SCEDC Legislative Watch - February 2024

SCEDC Legislative Watch - February 2024 Main Photo

4 Feb 2024


At the closing of the fourth week of the session, the final push of the first half of the 2024 Legislative Session is well underway. At this point, any House bills that have not passed a second reading and any Senate bills that have not passed through committee are considered dead.


SB 1, Reading skills (Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger), the Senate’s attempt to tackle Indiana’s mounting literacy crisis and further the science of reading, passed the third reading passage on Thursday. During the second reading, the bill saw bipartisan amendments that seek to increase parental rights and create an appeals process for students who were retained:

Amendment 1 (Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis) would require schools to create a process to give parents an opportunity to appeal third-grade retention

Amendment 8 (Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington) requires schools to provide early notification of the third-grade retention policy

Amendment 11 (Sen. Rogers) makes technical changes, requires schools to provide a reading plan to students not successful at IREAD or summer school, requires a survey be conducted regarding school intervention methods, and allows for good cause exemptions for students who have been retained twice in K-2

Despite these amendments, the retention portion of the bill remained controversial through third reading, ultimately passing with a 36-13 vote. SB 1’s primary House sponsor is Rep. Jake Teshka (R-South Bend).

SB 2, Child care (Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso) would roll out multiple new policies to help more individuals become childcare workers and cut certain regulations that drive up the cost of operating a childcare facility. SB 2 previously passed the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee (12-0) and passed the Appropriations Committee unanimously, before passing the floor 48-1. SB 2’s primary House sponsor is Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger). The bill has a number of provisions to expand Hoosier access to childcare and to remove some of the burdens on the childcare system to address access and affordability. A main piece of the bill provides that a household is eligible to begin receiving assistance under the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) voucher program if the household has a household income that does not exceed 85% of Indiana's state median income for the household's family size; includes an individual who is employed by a licensed child care center, a licensed child care home, or a licensed or registered child care ministry; and otherwise meets federal eligibility requirements for the CCDF program.

SB 4, Fiscal and Administrative Matters (C. Garten) - The bill has a number of provisions dealing with agency oversight and transparency for notices, administrative rule adoption, and interim rules. The bill also specifies that certain workforce-related programs must be reviewed by the legislative services agency at least once instead of once every five years, and legislative services agency must publish on the general assembly’s website a schedule of all the workforce-related programs and indicate when the report will be published after the program has been reviewed.

SB 5, Lead water line replacement and lead remediation (Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford) intends to allow utility companies to replace lead pipes more easily. SB 5 previously passed both the Senate Utilities and Appropriations Committees unanimously and passed the floor unanimously and unamended. The primary House sponsor will be Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso).

SB 9, Notice of healthcare entity mergers (Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown) would require healthcare entities to provide notice of certain mergers or acquisitions to specified members of the general assembly and the Attorney General. It saw widespread support on the grounds that increased competition would reduce healthcare prices but drew some concern from healthcare entities who worried it would hurt their business and slow down mergers. It passed the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee by a unanimous 10-0 vote. After being amended to require notification to the affected companies on the second reading, SB 9 passed the third reading unanimously (49-0). Its primary House sponsor is Rep. Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel).

SB 52, Dedicated lanes (Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis) passed out of the Senate on Monday by a vote of 35-14 following a lengthy and heated floor debate. SB 52, directed at the city of Indianapolis, would prevent a consolidated city from installing dedicated lanes for public transit. It was amended on the second reading to direct that the city could not install any more no-turn-on-red signs until July 1, 2025 and create a Task Force that would assess and report to the legislature the impact of dedicated lanes and no-turn-on-red restrictions in Indianapolis. The House sponsor will be Rep. Julie McGuire (R-Indianapolis).

SB 159, Annexation (J. Buck) - With certain exceptions, requires a municipality that initiates an annexation to file with the court an annexation petition approved by the signatures of at least 51% of the owners of non-tax-exempt land in the annexation territory; or the owners of at least 75% in assessed valuation of non-tax-exempt land in the annexation territory. Requires the court to hold a hearing if the petition has enough signatures. Adds provisions for determining the validity of signatures. Eliminates the following: Remonstrances and remonstrance waivers. Reimbursement of remonstrator's attorney's fees and costs. Adoption of a fiscal plan for voluntary annexations requested by 100% of landowners in the annexation territory. Settlement agreements in lieu of annexation. Provisions regarding contiguity of a public highway.

SB 211, Various education matters, (Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond), which would establish a civics education program and make changes to the collective bargaining dates for teachers, was heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The bill saw widespread support for its provisions establishing a civics seal program. However, some concerns were expressed regarding the bill’s changes to the definition of a charter school corporation. SB 211 ultimately passed the committee by a 9-4 vote and will be up for consideration on a second reading on Monday.

SB 245, Natural Gas and Electric Utility Infrastructure, (S. Glick) - Provides that an applicant that seeks: (1) the installation or extension of electric or natural gas utility infrastructure; (2) electric or natural gas utility service; or (3) both; in connection with certain development projects is entitled to request and convene, before commencing construction on the project, at least one technical advisory meeting with each utility whose service area includes the project site. Defines a "technical advisory meeting" as a meeting that: (1) includes as participants the applicant and one or more utilities: (A) whose service area includes the project site; and (B) from whom utility infrastructure, utility service, or both, will be required for the project; and (2) is held: (A) in preparation for, or in connection with, certain advance planning activities related to the project; and (B) for the purpose of: (I) sharing planning documents and drawings; (ii) determining the utility infrastructure, utility service, or both, required to serve the project; and (iii) discussing the terms of a potential extension agreement between the utility and the applicant. Sets forth the procedures and time frame for requesting and holding a technical advisory meeting. Requires an applicant and a utility to enter into an extension agreement before construction commences on a project, regardless of whether a technical advisory meeting is requested or held. Defines an "extension agreement" as an agreement that: (1) is entered into between an applicant and a utility whose service area includes the project site of the applicant's project; and (2) sets forth the obligations and commitments of: (A) the utility and the applicant with respect to the extension of utility infrastructure to the project site; and (B) the utility and the customers to be initially served by the extension upon its installation. Sets forth the required elements of an extension agreement. Provides that before agreeing to extend utility infrastructure to a project site in connection with the project, a natural gas utility must provide the applicant with a written summary that explains the obligations and commitments that apply to: (1) the utility; (2) the applicant; and (3) the customers to be initially served by the extension of the utility infrastructure upon its installation; under the Indiana utility regulatory commission's (IURC) rule on the extension of gas distribution mains. Sets forth the information required to be included in the summary. Provides that an applicant or a utility may submit an informal complaint to the IURC's consumer affairs division in connection with the bill's provisions concerning technical advisory meetings and extension agreements. Provides that if the IURC determines that it requires additional staff to handle the volume of informal complaints submitted, the IURC may impose a fee on a party against whom a decision is rendered. Provides that the fee may not exceed the lesser of: (1) the IURC's actual costs in handling the informal complaint; or (2) $750. Authorizes the IURC to adopt rules to implement the bill's provisions.

SB 295, Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) (Sen. Brian Buchanan, R-Lebanon) passed the Senate 44-5 on Thursday. SB 295 adds two nonvoting members appointed by the General Assembly to the IEDC’s board and requires that IEDC give notice before purchasing land over 100 acres for development. The legislation stems from scrutiny related to a proposed LEAP development district in Boone County initiated by the IEDC. SB 295 will be sponsored by Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) in the House. Allows the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to each appoint a member from their chamber as a non-voting, advisory member to the board of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The bill also has a provision that requires IEDC to give notice, before purchasing over 100 acres, to the county or municipality, or both, in which the land is located. The notice must be given 30 days before the closing date.


HB 1001, Education and Higher Education Matters (C. Goodrich) - Among the many provisions of the bill, it would allow recipients of Higher Education Awards, Freedom of Choice Grants, or Twenty-First Century Scholarships to use these for training from approved employers or labor organizations. Allows certain recipients of a Twenty-First Century Scholarship to be used for paying for courses, apprenticeships, or programs of study provided by a CSA participating entity. Requires the Requires the Commission for Higher Education to create a list of eligible intermediaries, employers, and labors organizations that are approved to receive reimbursement from the three funding programs mentioned above.

HB 1073, Special education (Rep. Becky Cash, R-Zionsville) was passed by the House on a third reading on Wednesday (73-24). The bill would require school corporations to install cameras in designated special education classrooms, seclusion areas, and time-out spots. Many of the legislators who spoke in opposition of the bill appreciated the bills intent to protect vulnerable populations of children but believe that the legislation should either move back to a second reading or be passed in the next session in order to address concerns about privacy of other students and unanswered questions about funding for equipment. The Senate sponsor of the bill is Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon).

HB 1086, Alcoholic beverage sales (Rep. Jake Teshka, R-South Bend) was heard on the third reading on Monday, passing by a vote of 75-21. Among its various provisions, HB 1086 would allow bars and restaurants to offer “Happy Hour” specials, a reduction of drink prices for up to 4 hours a day, but less than 15 hours in a week. The bill would also legalize the sale of carry-out alcohol in sealed containers from restaurants. Senate sponsors are Sen. Kyle Walker (R-Indianapolis) and Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette).

HB 1093, Employment of Minors (K. Culp)- The bill has a number of provisions dealing with when and where minors may be employed in the state. It removes language providing that a minor who is at least 14 years of age and less than 16 years of age may only work until 7 p.m. on a day that precedes a school day from June 1 through Labor Day. It also repeals provisions concerning hour and time restrictions for the employment of a minor who is at least 16 years of age and less than 18 years of age. The bill specifies that the prohibition on a minor from working in a hazardous occupation does not apply to a minor who is at least 16 years of age and less than 18 years of age who is employed in agriculture.

HB 1130, Economic Development Districts (R Manning) Creates a procedure to establish a community infrastructure improvement district (district). Specifies that the procedure added by the bill allowing for the establishment of a district does not authorize the unit to establish a district that overlaps with an economic improvement district. Requires a petition for the establishment of a district to include a rate and methodology report. Specifies the contents of the report. Specifies the basis upon which benefits accruing to parcels of real property within a district may be apportioned among those parcels. Requires a determination that the aggregate assessments within a district: (1) do not exceed 30% of the projected assessed value of property within the district; or (2) in the case of a district that is established for single-family residences, do not exceed 10% of the projected assessed value per single-family residence within the district; before a legislative body may adopt an ordinance to establish a district. Requires a community infrastructure improvement board (board) to assist the county treasurer in order to make certain specified determinations and designations regarding annual assessments within a district. Adds specific provisions that apply to the board's issuance of revenue bonds. Sunsets these provisions after five years. 

HB 1121, Local Income Taxes (J. Thompson) - Extends the expiration of provisions concerning a county with a single voting bloc and the allocation of votes for a local income tax council. Specifies the amount of revenue from a local income tax rate imposed for correctional facilities and rehabilitation facilities in a county that may be used for operating expenses of those facilities.

HB 1157, Nondisclosure Agreements in Economic Development (R. Greene, J. Teshka) Provides that the Indiana economic development corporation, the state, any instrumentality of the state, or any other public authority, or any party negotiating on behalf of any of those entities, may not, after June 30, 2024, enter into an economic development agreement or contract that contains any provision, clause, or language that provides that the agreement or contract, or any of its terms, is confidential, or that the parties to the agreement or contract are prohibited from disclosing, discussing, describing, or commenting upon the terms of the agreement or contract.

HB 1183, Foreign ownership of agricultural land (Rep. Kendell Culp, R-Rensselaer), passed on third reading (95-0) during House session on Thursday. The bill would prevent purchasers from countries designated as “foreign adversaries,” such as China and North Korea, from owning or leasing farmland in Indiana. The Senate sponsor of the bill is Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg).

HB 1243, Various education and workforce-related matters (Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis) passed unanimously out of the House on the third reading (96-0). The bill was supported by the Indiana Department of Education and would alter statewide assessments and graduation requirements. Senate sponsors are Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) and Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenberg).

HB 1277, State Administration of Federal BEAD Program (E. Soliday) - The bill ensures Indiana’s statute is in conformity with the federal government’s regulations, while maintaining the state’s values. It also establishes a new Indiana Code Chapter that will govern the administration of the BEAD program and requires the compliance with all mandatory provisions found in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity. In the bill, there are provisions stating that certain awarding of grants must be approved by the Indiana broadband office.

HB 1322, Sales Tax Exemption for Utility Services (R. Dvorak) - Provides a sales tax exemption for the sale or furnishing of the following services or commodities by a power subsidiary or a person engaged as a public utility to a person for commercial or domestic consumption: (1) Electrical energy. (2) Natural or artificial gas. (3) Water. (4) Steam. (5) Steam heating service.

HB 1331, Legislative Oversight, (E. DeLaney) - Establishes the economic development policy oversight commission. Requires the commission to review, consider, and make recommendations concerning the following: (1) The activities of the Indiana economic development corporation. (2) The activities of local and regional economic development organizations. (3) The expenditure of money appropriated for economic development purposes. Establishes the finance policy oversight commission. Requires the commission to review, consider, and make recommendations concerning the following: (1) The activities of the Indiana finance authority. (2) The activities of the Indiana housing and community development authority. (3) The expenditure of money appropriated for projects financed through the Indiana finance authority or the Indiana housing and community development authority.

HB 1363, Elimination of Sales Tax on Utility Service (G. Porter) - Provides a sales tax exemption for utility services.

HB 1383, Wetlands, (Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Brazil) was the first House bill to be heard in the Senate this year when it appeared before the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee for consideration on Wednesday. The committee heard testimony on the bill, which saw support from various groups including the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Builders Association, and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce; all of whom believed it would stimulate economic development while still protecting the states wetlands. It saw strong opposition from environmental groups, who cited the environmental importance of wetlands and that they believed the legislation would further reduce Indiana’s wetlands. HB 1383 passed by a 7-2 vote.

HB 1412, Canine standard of care (Rep. Beau Baird, R-Greencastle) passed on third reading during House session on Tuesday (59-36). The bill establishes a random inspection program of retail pet stores, commercial dog breeders, commercial dog brokers and would require pet stores to acquire dogs from breeders who have a Canine Care certification. Hobby breeders not registered with the board are barred from selling dogs to retail pet stores. Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen) and Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg).