INDIANAPOLIS—Working through lengthy committee agendas, lawmakers have been reviewing hundreds of initiatives and receiving a significant amount of testimony on bills receiving hearings. This brief summary highlights recent activities in the Senate as well as some action taken by the House of Representatives.
Child abuse and neglect reporting
Legislation is advancing that is a result of work conducted last year by an interim study committee which examined the current level of services offered to at-risk children in Indiana. Senate Bill 572 requires the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) to employ a state child fatality review coordinator to assist with re-establishing county or regional child fatality review teams. This bill is eligible for final review by the Senate. SB 105 requires the DCS to act on all abuse or neglect reports received from judicial, police, medical or school personnel. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and now awaits House consideration. House Bill (HB) 1142 requires DCS to hire additional personnel to handle child abuse investigations. In addition, this proposal would assign for investigation all reports of child abuse or neglect that are received from a centralized call center to the local DCS office in the county where the child is located. HB 1142 was approved by the House Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs and now must be reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee due to its fiscal impact.
Assisting Hoosier veterans is the impetus behind several Senate bills including SB 165 that is gaining momentum. The proposal entitles the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran to a property tax deduction as long as the veteran met the requirements for the deduction at the time of death and the surviving spouse owns the property when the statement is filed. In addition, SB 165 increases the assessed value cap from $143,160 to $195,600 that applies to the property tax deduction for a veteran who has a total disability or has at least a 10% disability and is at least 62 years of age. SB 165 received unanimous approval from the Senate and now proceeds to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
SB 290 provides that the Emergency Medical Services Commission shall issue a license or certificate to a military service applicant who meets certain requirements. If approved, this bill would allow the commission to issue a temporary practice certificate or provisional license while the military service applicant is satisfying certain requirements as determined by the commission. SB 271 provides that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation may assist a state agency in compiling a list of veteran owned small businesses (VOSB), helping them to comply with procedures for bidding on state contracts, helping to determine which purchases of supplies or services should be designated as VOSB set-asides, and simplifying specifications and contract terms to increase opportunities for VOSB participation in state contracts. SB 264 exempts military retirement pension income from the adjusted gross income tax. These three initiatives are awaiting committee hearings.
The following list includes a few of the bills that have gained Senate approval and now proceed to the House of Representatives for its consideration:
SB 153 establishes the conditions under which a child who is employed or works as a youth athletic program referee, umpire, or official is exempt from the requirements of the state’s child labor law. The bill would allow children at younger ages to have the opportunity to learn the responsibilities that come with these tasks. It was supported by many coaches around the state representing various sports. The measure was approved by a vote of 48-0.
SB 168 is aimed at closing a loophole in Indiana law and provides that blood samples may be taken by a person qualified through training, experience, or education to obtain bodily substance samples. Further, the bill specifies that a law enforcement officer who is an arresting officer or involved in the investigation of an accident or crime may not draw a blood sample, but may designate another qualified person, including another law enforcement officer, to draw a blood sample. The legislation is in response to a 2010 crash involving an Indianapolis police officer whose blood was drawn by a medical assistant. A motorcyclist died from injuries incurred by the accident. The measure was approved by a vote of 48-0.
SB 185 allows money in an individual development account to be used to purchase a motor vehicle as long as the purchase does not exceed $10,000 and it is used for the primary purpose of transporting the individual to and from work or school. The proposal also provides that the withdrawal of the money for the purchase of the motor vehicle is not subject to state and local tax. Individual development accounts are state matched savings accounts that help qualifying low income families to save toward the purchase of a home, secondary education or to start a small business. The bill was approved by a vote of 48-0.
SB 324 increases from $50,000 to $100,000 the death benefit for a state employee who dies in the line of duty. In addition, the bill adds dependent stepchildren to the survivors entitled to receive a death benefit if the spouse of the deceased is no longer living. The measure stems from several Indiana Department of Transportation employees who died as the result of accidents within highway work zones. The bill was approved by a vote of 47-2.
February 21 Deadline for committee reports
February 26 Deadline for the Senate to consider Senate bills
March 4 Senate begins consideration of House bills
For information about bills being considered by the General Assembly, log on to www.in.gov/legislative. From this site, you can also watch the House and Senate in session as well as committee hearings.
Stay informed about bills and resolutions scheduled for action in both the House and Senate with BillWatch. This free online program, available at www.BillWatch.in.gov, allows you to track up to 10 bills and receive e-mail notifications only when action is taken on those bills.
Senate Democrats offer up-to-date information at www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov. Multimedia updates on the Senate’s daily activities are provided at The Briefing Room (www.INSenDems.wordpress.com) and Twitter at @INSenDems (www.twitter.com/INSenDems).
Visit the senator’s web site at www.in.gov/s40 and subscribe to receive periodic e-mails about action taken on major issues. Check out the senator’s Facebook profile at www.facebook.com/senatormarkstoops .
Personal contact with constituents has a direct impact on legislation considered and what ultimately becomes law. Use the contact information below to express your comments and concerns regarding pending legislation:
Mailing address: Statehouse, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Telephone: Call direct: 317-232-9847 or call toll-free: 800-382-9467, ext. 2-9847
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: A photo of Sen. Mark Stoops can be downloaded at http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_democrats/images/headshots/Stoops.jpg