Unemployment Insurance: Senate Bill 23. The Senate-passed version delayed by one year changes to the tax that employers pay to shore up the state’s unemployment insurance fund. The fund deficit now stands at $1.6B, an amount loaned to Indiana by the federal government. The House-passed version repealed the tax changes altogether; expanded eligibility for jobless benefits that will allow Indiana to draw down $148M in stimulus funds; increased the maximum weekly benefit; and suspended the requirement that individuals submit at least one application per week while drawing unemployment when the statewide unemployment rate for the previous year was 7.5% or higher. (Indiana’s statewide unemployment rate is 9.9%.)
Ethics and Lobby Reform: House Bill 1001. Considered a “bipartisan, bicameral” agreement, this bill still has a few sticking points to be worked out in the coming days. In particular, House Speaker Pat Bauer says he is disappointed that the Senate cut the “pay-to-play” provision, which would prohibit vendors holding or seeking state contracts from donating to state campaigns. Read last week’s post on this bill for more information.
Smoking Ban: Senate Bill 175. A proposed statewide smoking ban was resurrected in the House last week by an amendment to SB 175. The ban as it now stands would prohibit smoking in all public places except casinos. The original bill was killed in the Senate (never given a hearing by the Chair of the Senate Commerce & Public Policy Committee), so the prospects of its survival this week are questionable.
Illiana Expressway: Senate Bill 382. Allows the Illiana Expressway – a connector between Interstate 57 in Illinois and Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana – to be built as a public-private partnership. The bill was amended in the House to include similar projects on the Indiana-Kentucky border.
Alcohol Sales: Senate Bill 75. The original bill would allow microbreweries to sell their own product for carryout on Sundays. House amendments added provisions to allow alcohol sales on Election Day and extended Sunday sales in restaurants from 10am-12:30am to 7am-3am.
Job Creation and Small Business Assistance: Senate Bill 396. The House passed a last-minute amendment to this bill last week that is packed with job incentives. Included in the bill is a job creation tax credit to small businesses; a new employer tax credit to businesses that open in Indiana; the Helping Indiana Restart Employment Program to reimburse employers for wages paid to new hires using federal stimulus funds; $1.5M in current state appropriations to help small businesses secure loans; and preference for Hoosier workers in public works contracts.
Local Government Reform: House Bill 1181. The Senate-passed version would eliminate township advisory boards in 2013 and prohibits nepotism by township officers. The House version of this bill called for a Nov. 2010 general election township-by-township referendum to keep or eliminate township trustees and 3-member advisory boards. A separate bill, the Senate-passed version of House Bill 1030, calls for county referendums to replace the board of county commissioners with an elected county chief executive officer; prohibits public employees of a local unit from serving as the elected executive officer or as a member of local council or board; prohibits nepotism in any local government if the relatives are in a direct supervisory or subordinate situation; allows any county to establish vote centers.
To see if a bill is still alive, visit the General Assembly’s list of “live bills”.