Local state legislators are invited to make themselves available to answer questions on the second Saturday of each month during each legislative session. This is the second of three scheduled meetings for 2020.
This week, the Indiana General Assembly reached the halfway point of the 2020 legislative session. This means the Senate and House of Representatives have amended and voted on all of their own bills. During the second half of session, the bills will switch chambers and begin the process again before they could go before the governor and be signed into law.
This year, the Senate passed 170 of the 452 bills introduced, including House Bill 1007, which has already been signed into law by Gov. Holcomb. Of those 170 bills, 167 were passed with bipartisan support. In the coming weeks the Senate will assign the 113 bills passed by the House of Representatives to their respective committees to be heard or amended. If the bills pass with no amendments, they will go straight to the governor’s desk. If there are discrepancies on bills, they will go to conference committee. Conference committees consist of one member from all four caucuses. Here members settle final disputes before going back to each chamber to vote on the updated bill. By law, the 2020 legislative session will conclude on or before March 14.
This week the Indiana General Assembly reached the halfway point of the 2020 legislative session. Below are some of the topics I have worked with my colleagues to prioritize during the first half of session.
Liability immunity for not-for-profit shooting ranges: This session, I authored Senate Bill 9, which passed the Senate by a vote of 41-9. It would provide liability immunity for not-for-profit shooting ranges where instructors are certified by a nationally recognized shooting organization. Currently, the ability to obtain liability insurance for gun ranges is cost prohibitive with unaffordable rates. This bill would not assume liability for injury to a person or property, so long as there is proper signage.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Pilot Program: Another bill I authored this session is Senate Bill 72, which passed out of the Senate by a vote of 47-1. It would allow health care providers to receive payment for the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Pilot Program for veterans, regardless if the treatment did or did not improve a patient’s health. Currently, providers only receive payment if a patient’s health improves, which could lead to the unintended consequence of bias when viewing results.
Specialized weapons training for school staff: Another bill I supported this session is Senate Bill 263, which would require an employee or any other staff member of a school to complete certain specialized weapons training and undergo psychological screening before a local school board authorizes a staff member to carry a firearm in or on school property. Support rural communities: According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana is the eighth largest agricultural exporter in the United States, contributing an estimated $31.2 billion to our state’s overall economy. To better protect and provide for our farmers, I voted in support of Senate Bill 184. If passed by the House of Representatives, SB 184 would allow the Indiana Farm Bureau to offer its members health care coverage. The bill would create a new option to improve the quality of life for rural Hoosiers.
Address withheld taxes and protect employers: Another bill I co-authored is Senate Bill 320, which would require the Indiana Department of Revenue (IDOR) to only accept payment of employer withholding taxes that are made or withdrawn directly from the employer’s bank account, except in the case of an employer that has submitted a waiver. SB 320 passed out of the Senate by a vote of 48 to 1.
Create study committee on invasive species: I also supported Senate Bill 99, which would urge the legislative council to assign the topic of studying issues related to invasive species to an appropriate interim study committee. SB 99 passed the Senate and will be moved to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Hold K-12 schools harmless for ILEARN test results: Transitioning from one state test to another can create challenges for schools and teachers, as Indiana saw with the 2019 ILEARN results. Therefore, my colleagues and I expedited legislation that will hold K-12 schools and teachers harmless for the 2019 and 2020 test scores. This legislation recently passed out of the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously and will now go to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature.
2020 Session Halftime Update (from 02/07/20 Update)
This week the Indiana General Assembly reached the halfway point of the 2020 legislative session. Below are some of the topics I have worked with my colleagues to prioritize during the first half of session. Support teachers: This session, I authored Senate Bill 319, which would make the career-oriented professional growth experience points optional for teachers renewing their license. Improve access to psychologists: Another bill I authored this session is Senate Bill 355, which would establish the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, allowing the practice of psychology in another state that is also a compact state. Increase health care cost transparency:Price transparency is a critical first step in reducing Hoosiers’ high health care costs, and I supported efforts to provide transparency, including creating an All-Payer Claims Database, eliminating surprise billing and banning health insurance gag clauses. Hold K-12 schools harmless for ILEARN test results : Transitioning from one state test to another can create challenges for schools and teachers, as Indiana saw with the 2019 ILEARN results. Therefore, my colleagues and I expedited legislation that will hold K-12 schools and teachers harmless for the 2019 and 2020 test scores. This legislationrecently passed out of the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously and will now go to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature. Reduce government debt: During the first half of session, I supported efforts to pay for capital projects that were approved in the 2020-21 budget with cash. This will eliminate almost $300 million in state debt and save Hoosier taxpayers $135 million in the long run by avoiding future interest payments. This legislation was recently signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Raise smoking and vaping age to 21: Reducing smoking and vaping is one of the most important things we can do as a state to improve our overall health. This is why I supported a measure that would align state law with federal law by raising the minimum age to buy or possess tobacco products, e-liquids and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. Along with raising the smoking age to 21, this bill has two other important measures that would help curb youth smoking and vaping. This bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.
Follow Bills introduced during the 2020 General Assembly Legislative Session HERE
Stay in touch with GOP state legislators representing our area (click links below):
“Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again.”
– President Donald J. Trump, 2020 State of The Union Address
Watch last week’s State of the Union address HERE.
Stay in touch with GOP members of Congress representing our area (click links below):