2013 General Assembly wrap-up

309

The 2013 General Assembly was successful for HSPA based on what was not passed by the state’s legislators.

The “ag gag” bill, which would have been challenged as an infringement on the First Amendment, died in the waning hours of the last day of the session. Four bills attacking the concept of publication of public notices either died or had the offending language removed from the bill. (I’ll discuss them in the Public Notice section of this wrap-up.)

S.B. 373, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, originally would have made the dissemination of photos/videos of agricultural, manufacturing or mining operations without the owner’s permission a crime.

The threshold for whether the crime occurred was if the intent was to annoy, defame, harass or harm the business owner.

The genesis of the bill was agribusiness concern over YouTube videos showing alleged cruelty to animals. The images sometimes were taken by animal rights activists who had secured employment with confined feeding operations for the purpose of gaining access to the operation to take the video.

HSPA testified during the bill’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law, chaired by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis. HSPA said the bill would violate the First Amendment and offered no protection to those who were trying to bring to the public’s attention legal activities that warranted legislative action to make them illegal.

Sen. Young did raise a concern about sanctions being brought against images that showed illegal activity. Committee member Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, covered a laundry list of laws already available to business owners to protect themselves from unfair depictions of their operations. Still, the committee passed S.B. 373 to the Senate floor on a 7-2 vote. Sens. Stoops and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, voted against the bill.

Sen. Holdman did amend the bill on 2nd reading to add an exception if the photo/videographer turned the images over to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory entity as evidence of wrong-doing by the farmer, factory, or mine. Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, became a co-author for the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, Sen. Stoops, and Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, vocally opposed the bill during its floor debate. Still, the Senate passed the bill 30-20.

By the time, S.B. 373 received a hearing in the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, chaired by Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, a coalition of opponents had emerged. In addition to HSPA, they included the Humane Society of Indiana, Hoosier Environmental Council, the Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana Broadcasters Association, Motion Picture Association of America, and AFL-CIO.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, was the bill’s sponsor. He amended the bill to remove “annoy” as the threshold and moved the point of the crime from the dissemination of the photos/video to the taking the photos without written consent. He also added a change to the law prohibiting gaining employment under false pretenses.

More than 50 people attended the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, and the majority testifying opposed the bill. Rep. Lehe was the bill’s co-sponsor.

S.B. 373 was passed by the committee 9-3. Reps. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend; Pat Bauer, D-South Bend; and Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, voted against it.

Unsatisfied with the changes made by the Agriculture Committee, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, reassigned the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon.

Rep. Steuerwald worked with Rep. Friend and Rep. Jud McMillan, R-Brookville, on an amendment to eliminate criminal defamation language from S.B. 373. The amendment passed by the Judiciary Committee confined the bill to language strengthening the trespass and false employment laws.

At this point, HSPA withdrew its opposition to the bill. Key testified that the HSPA doesn’t encourage its members to violate the law, so it had no objection to the legislature making changes to the two criminal statutes. The bill was passed by the committee, 7-3.

The House then passed the bill 65-25, but Sen. Holdman felt the House version was too weak. He filed a dissent to trigger a conference committee.

Sen. Holdman, Rep. Friend, Sen. Tallian and Rep. Bauer were appointed conferees. When Bauer and Tallian refused to sign Holdman’s report, Republican leadership replaced them with Sen. Steele and Rep. Steuerwald. The conference committee report was then signed and taken to the Senate and House floors for a vote.

In HSPA’s view, the conference committee inadvertently changed the ag-gag bill to an “all-gag” bill. The language said any act taken on someone’s property with the intent to harm the owner could be considered criminal trespass.

The Senate passed it 29-21. Sens. Lanane and Stoops spoke against the S.B. 373 conference committee report.

The House debate was longer. Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, was the seventh legislator to speak against the bill when Speaker Bosma suggested Pierce “wrap it up” because he would like Bosma’s announcement to follow.

Rep. Pierce quickly said, “I’m done” and Bosma announced the withdrawal of the bill. Bosma later said he had hoped the move would lead the Senate to concur with the House version. Holdman decided not to do so and the bill died.

The six legislators who joined Pierce in speaking out against S.B. 373 were Bauer, Rep. Niezgodski, Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis; Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage; Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville; and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

Two similar bills were filed at the start of the legislative session, but didn’t move since S.B. 373 was the chosen bill to advance.

H.B. 1562 was authored by Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston. It’s co-sponsors were Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle; and Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute. The bill died without a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Jud McMillan, R-Brookville.

S.B. 391 was authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury. The bill died without a hearing in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Yoder, because S.B. 373 was pushed forward to address the issue.

Public Access

H.B. 1175, authored by Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, contained language that HSPA helped develop with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. It would allow a government unit to charge a search fee if a records request requires more than two hours to find the records. The fee was capped at $20 an hour and could not include computer run time.

Reps. Bosma and Friend agreed to add an HSPA-suggested amendment to allow a citizen to request electronic records, such as Excel spreadsheets, to be delivered via email. Current law allows the public agency to require the citizen to come to the office and pick up a paper copy of electronically-stored records.

While HSPA would not have initiated language creating a search fee, 29 other states already have such fees and House Republican leadership was determined to give government units some compensation for time expended, so HSPA worked to develop language that would not unfairly burden a records requester. HSPA also determined that the benefits of the citizen’s choice language would outweigh the search fee’s burden.

H.B. 1175 was approved 9-1 by the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City. It was then passed by the House, 72-27. Reps. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville, and Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, were co-authors.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, was the bill’s sponsor. During the bill’s hearing before the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, Sen. Holdman amended the bill to allow a citizen to take cell phone photos of public records without having to pay a copying fee. As amended, the bill was approved in committee, 9-0. Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond was the co-sponsor.

County recorders, who collect a $1 a page for copies, objected to Holdman’s amendment and H.B. 1175 stalled on the Senate floor with a 23-23 vote. Holdman was allowed to take the bill back to the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee to amend his cell phone language (only allowing the photos if the documents contained the name of the person using the cell phone). The amendment was a compromise that Holdman believed was OK’d by the county recorders. But the bill was defeated by the Senate in its second vote, 21-28.

Rep. Friend attempted to find a new home for the H.B. 1175 language, minus the cell phone photos provision. Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, was willing to have it inserted into H.E.A. 1333 (concerning county government), but the plan was dropped when it became clear that Senate leadership would not accept the language since it had been defeated on the Senate floor.

S.E.A. 162, authored by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, had a goal of greater transparency for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The bill was approved by the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, on a 12-0 vote. Unfortunately, a committee amendment limited the amount of information that must be included in yearly compliance reports from what was included in Delph’s original language. HSPA testified in favor of S.B. 162.

Delph drafted a 2nd reading amendment to strengthen the language, but support was lacking so the amendment was not offered. The Senate passed the bill, 49-1. Co-authors were Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City; Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville; John Broden, D-South Bend; Mike Young, R-Indianapolis; Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond; Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis and Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington.

Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, was the bill’s sponsor. HSPA talked to him about strengthening the bill with Delph’s language. Burton said leadership wanted to keep the language as it left the Senate. Co-sponsors were Reps. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel; Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City; and Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis.

The bill was approved by the House Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee chaired by Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, with an 11-0 vote. The House then passed S.E.A. 162, 98-0. It was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on May 8.

S.B. 316, authored by Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, would have made the operations of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation more transparent to the public. Senate leadership decided to move S.E.A. 162 instead of Sen. Mrvan’s bill, which died without a hearing in Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek. Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, was the co-author of S.B. 316.

S.B. 325, authored by Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, would have specifically placed redevelopment commissions and authorities within the scope of the state’s Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act. HSPA testified in favor of the bill during its hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. The committee passed the bill 8-1 and the Senate approved the bill with a 44-5 vote. Co-authors were Sens. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, and Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington.

Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, was the bill’s sponsor. The bill died without a hearing in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City. The bill’s co-sponsor was Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus.

H.E.A. 1102, authored by Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, initially would have allowed executive sessions anytime to hear an attorney explain the liability of actions considered by the governing body. It also expanded the litigation provision for an executive session under the Open Door Law.

HSPA expressed its concern with the broadness of the attorney consultation language with Rep. Davisson and testified before the House Government and Regulatory Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, about its concerns. Rep. Mahan held the bill to give Davisson time to work with HSPA on an amendment.

The amendment eliminated the attorney consultant language and tweaked the litigation definition to make it clear that administrative law proceedings would be considered litigation. The bill also added language suggested by Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, to allow a school board to directly negotiate collective bargaining agreements without triggering the Open Door Law. HSPA worked with Rep. Thompson on the language.

The amendment was approved in committee, which then passed the bill 11-0. The House approved the bill, 98-0. Co-authors were Reps. Thompson and Mara Candaleria Reardon, D-Munster.

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, was the bill sponsor. H.E.A. 1102 was approved 9-0 by the Senate Public Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Merritt, and the Senate, 48-2. Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, was co-sponsor. Gov. Mike Pence signed the legislation on April 29.

S.E.A. 369, authored by Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, creates a criminal intelligence exception to the Access to Public Records Act and allows law enforcement to neither “confirm or deny” the existence of investigatory records to protect an ongoing investigation or public safety. HSPA worked with Sen. Wyss, the Indiana State Police and Indiana’s Homeland Security Department on an amendment to limit the scope of the changes sought.

The basis for the change was to prevent, for example, a public official, from making a records request of the ISP of records of an investigation of that public official. Under current law, the ISP could deny the request, but the denial would confirm there is an investigation, which would give the public official the opportunity to destroy evidence.

The bill was amended and passed 8-0 by the Senate Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee chaired by Wyss, where HSPA testified in favor of the new language. It was then passed by the Senate 47-1. Co-author was Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.

Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, was the bill’s sponsor. It was approved 11-0 by the House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, chaired by Rep. Frye. The House approved the bill, 94-0. Co-sponsors were Reps. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City; Chuck Moseley, D-Portage; and Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. The Senate concurred on House changes, 48-0. The bill awaits a signature from Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

S.E.A. 243, authored by Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, allows lists of the home contact information of first responders to be kept confidential to protect against terrorism. HSPA worked with Sen. Wyss, the Indiana State Police and Indiana’s Homeland Security Department on an amendment to limit the amount of secrecy involved.

The bill was amended and passed 9-0 by the Senate Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee chaired by Wyss, where HSPA testified in favor of the new language. It was then passed by the Senate 47-1. Co-author was Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.

Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, was the sponsor. The bill was approved 12-0 by the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and by the Senate, 94-0. Co-sponsors were Reps. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis; and Randy Frye, R-Greensburg.

H.E.A. 1219, authored by Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, originally would allow law enforcement officers to request that county government redact their home addresses from records posted on the county’s website. (The language did not impact access to records requested from a county office.)

HSPA and the Association of Indiana Counties raised concerns about the practical application of the language and where the exemptions would end as other groups sought the same privilege.

The bill was passed 8-1 (Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville) by the House Local Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, and the House, 96-4. Co-authors were Reps. Neese, Jud McMillan, R-Brookville; and Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.

Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, was the bill’s author. Karickhoff and Crider worked with the AIC and HSPA to craft an amendment making the language optional at the county level with a fee allowed to cover the redaction costs. As amended, it was passed 6-0 by the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and the Senate 47-0. Co-sponsors were Sens. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, and Jim Buck, R-Kokomo.

The House approved Karickhoff’s concurrence with the Senate changes, 93-0. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law April 29.

H.E.A. 1116, authored by Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, was a bill pushed by the state Department of Local Government Finance concerning the administration of property taxes. It includes a provision eliminating DLGF hearings on local government unit’s budgets unless a citizen requests such a public hearing. HSPA talked to the author and testified at both its committee hearings about the policy ramification of putting the burden on citizens to know their right to a hearing and onus of making that request.

Rep. Leonard said it was requested by DLGF and HSPA’s testimony did not resonate with any of the committee members. The House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, and the House approved the bill, 87-8. The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, and the Senate passed the bill 41-8. Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, was the bill’s sponsor.

Rep. Leonard filed a dissent on Senate changes, which lead to a conference committee on H.E.A. 116. The committee report was passed by both the House and Senate.

S.B. 139, authored by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, was requested by the Indiana School Boards Association and would have allowed school board’s to have an executive session to discuss the sale of school property.

HSPA pointed out how the language would allow school board’s to effectively decide on the sale of buildings, for example, Anderson’s famed, but aging, Wigwam gymnasium, without any public input. Sen. Alting said that wasn’t something he would favor and withdrew the bill from consideration by the Senate Local Government Committee – killing the bill.

H.B. 1195, authored by Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, would have curtailed access to the cause of death in records maintained by county health departments after someone dies. HSPA pointed out that the question was currently the subject of litigation between the Evansville Courier & Press and Vanderburgh County Health Department. Rep. Forestal agreed to reconsider the bill and it died without a hearing before the House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany.

S.E.A. 532, authored by Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, concerns the Indiana Secondary Markets for Education Loans. Inc. HSPA questioned the need for its committees to have an exception to the rules for electronic participation. Sen. Eckerty agreed to look into it and worked with HSPA and sponsor Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, on a clarifying amendment to the bill. The bill was passed by the Senate 50-0 and the House 73-24. A concurrence was approved by the Senate, 49-0.The bill was signed by Gov. Mike Pence on April 30.

H.B. 1143, authored by Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Hammond, puts towns and cities on an even basis concerning the publication of ordinances, which will save towns money. Rep. Reardon asked HSPA to testify on the bill during its House Local Government Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart. The language was inserted into H.E.A. 1145, also authored by Reardon. H.E.A. 1145 included various local government provisions and was approved by the House and Senate, and was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on April 29.

H.E.A. 1052, authored by Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, exempts the committees of the Commission on Higher Education from certain requirements under the Access to Public Records Act to participate in a meeting by electronic means. Rep. Crouch reached out to HSPA prior to the session to work on what was considered an oversight from a similar bill passed during the previous session.

HSPA testified in favor of the bill in its hearings before the House Select Committee on Government Reduction, chaired by Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, and Senate Public Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette. Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, was the bill’s sponsor.

It was passed by the House, 98-0, and the Senate, 45-4. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law on April 15.

H.B. 1376, authored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, includes a provision that makes confidential the Social Security number, home telephone number and email address of anyone who applies or receives a state license or certification or registration from a state licensing board or is a board member. The request was made by the Professional Licensing Board.

HSPA explored the option of a journalistic exception with Rep. Koch, but the licensing board’s administration rejected the idea. The bill, which included other “privacy” matters, was approved by both the House and Senate with no dissenting votes and was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on May 2.

S.B. 537, authored by Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, concerned Indiana Secretary of State matters. HSPA questioned a provision calling for confidentiality of certain records. The language was removed by amendment after HSPA talked to the author and the Secretary of State’s chief of staff, Danny Neal.

The bill was passed by the House 49-1 and the Senate, 90-2. Sen. Wyss concurred on House changes and the House then approved the bill, 41-8. The bill was signed into law April 26 by Gov. Mike Pence.

H.E.A. 1393, authored by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, establishes a Judicial Technology Oversight Committee. HSPA questioned the lack of representative of the public on the committee. The bill was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville. Rep. Brown amended the bill to include a member of the public and a non-Odyssey (Supreme Court records management system) participating county representative to the oversight committee.

The bill then was passed by the Ways and Means Committee and the House by a 70-24 vote. The Senate passed H.E.A. 1393 with a 50-0 vote and the House concurred with a 66-13 vote. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

H.B. 1368, authored by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, concerned the use of cameras to issue tickets for traffic violations. The bill was amended during its hearing before the House Roads and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Soliday, to make records of the agent for a government unit operating the cameras not publicly available.

HSPA raised a concern with the lack of accountability such secrecy would create to Soliday, but the bill died without a House vote before any change was made.

H.B. 1339, authored by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, concerned education matters including charter schools. HSPA questioned the impact of language concerning the school performance reports of the charter schools. Rep. Behning noted the problem, but the bill died without a hearing in the House Education Committee, which he chaired.

H.E.A. 1320, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, concerns worker’s compensation. It contained language proclaiming records provided by companies to the state would not be “public records” rather than using the term confidential. Rep. Lehman agreed to make the technical change so that the language wouldn’t conflict with the Access to Public Records Act.

The bill went on to be passed by both chambers and awaits a signature from Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

S.E.A. 189, authored by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, creates the category of performance-qualified schools, which are exempt from certain state requirements. HSPA pointed out that the language inadvertently exempted the schools from the state’s public access laws. Sen. Delph amended the bill during its hearing before the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. The bill was approved and passed the Senate, 44-5.

Rep. Huston, R-Fishers, was the bill’s sponsor. It was approved by the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, and the Senate, 95-0. Gov. Mike Pence signed the legislation on May 8.

H.B. 1166, authored by Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, also created performance-qualified schools. HSPA raised a concern about language that appeared to inadvertently exempt the schools from Indiana’s public access laws. Rep. Torr noted the problem and informed HSPA that Sen. Delph’s or Rep. Bob Behning’s similar bill would be the one moving forward.

S.B. 330, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, concerned school accreditation. HSPA suggested an amendment to make it clear safety violations could be made public immediately, rather than wait for an onsite inspection. Sen. Kruse agreed to make the change, but the bill died in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee when chairman Kruse decided not to call for a vote on the bill.

H.B. 1338, authored by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, concerns charter schools. HSPA questioned the impact of the legislation on annual school performance reports of charter schools, but the question remained unanswered at the end of the session.

The bill was approved by the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Behning and the House, 66-30. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, was the sponsor. He bill passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Kruse and the Senate, 34-16. The bill went through a conference committee after Behning filed a dissent on the Senate changes. The Conference committee report was approved by both chambers and the bill awaits a signature from Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

H.B. 1506, authored by Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, would have extended the time between filing campaign finance reports and when they would be available for inspection and copying. HSPA expressed concern over the timing of report availability and the election. Rep. Niemeyer indicated he was willing to work with HSPA if the bill got a hearing. It didn’t and died in the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, chaired by Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus.

H.B. 1193, authored by Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, concerned an economic development fund. HSPA asked the author to consider an amendment concerning the confidentiality of information submitted by loan applicants. Rep. Moseley said he would if the bill got a hearing, but it died without a hearing in the House Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee chaired by Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper.

S.B. 131, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, concerned the awarding of attorney fees in court actions. HSPA was concerned over the potential impact on the awarding of attorney fees in actions brought under the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act, but the bill died without a hearing in the Senate Civil Law Committee, chaired by Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger.

S.B. 575, authored by Rep. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, would have required the Indiana Economic Development Commission to report on professional services contracts it entered during the previous year.

HSPA informed Sen. Waltz that it would support the bill, but the bill died for lack of a hearing in the Senate Public Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette.

Public Notice

S.B. 458, authored by Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, would have eliminated the publication of public notices – replacing the publication with postings on local government websites.

HSPA testified against this concept during the bill’s hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. The bill died when Sen. Head decided not to call for a vote on the bill. Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury was co-author of the bill.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, had prepared an amendment to require a limited public notice publication to inform Hoosiers of notices to be posted on the websites, but it became moot when the bill died.

H.B. 1589, authored by Rep. David Ober, R-Albion, would have eliminated the publication requirement for procurement or “bid” notices. Co-authors were Reps. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, and Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy.

HSPA testified against the bill during its hearing in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartrford City. The language died when Rep. Mahan decided not to ask for a vote on the bill. He later allowed the bill to come back before the committee for a strip-and-insert amendment, which removed the offending language and replaced it with language concerning the ports of Indiana, by Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany. With the new language, the bill was passed by both the House and Senate and awaits a signature from Gov. Mike Pence.

H.E.A. 1427, authored by Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, concerns education matters, but included a provision replacing the publication of the annual school financial report with a posting on school district’s websites.

HSPA testified against the provision to no avail in the House Education Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis. The bill was approved by the committee and the House, 66-30.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, was the bill’s sponsor. HSPA argued the value of publication in a newspaper versus school website posting to Kruse, who agreed with HSPA. Sen. Kruse planned to offer an amendment removing the offending language in his Senate Education and Career Development Committee, but was blocked from doing so by Senate Republican leadership. (Rumor was leadership was unhappy with stories published by The Indianapolis Star concerning potential conflicts of interest and lobbying influence on the legislature.)

The bill was passed by his committee without the amendment. Sens. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and John Broden, D-South Bend, spoke in favor of the publication of the financial report during the committee hearing.

Sen. Rogers’ offered the amendment to restore the publication requirement during the bill’s 2nd reading on the floor. It was supported by Sen. Kruse. (Senate leadership reportedly allowed the Republican senators to vote how they wished on the amendment.) The amendment was passed through a voice vote. The Senate then passed the bill, 34-16.

Rep. Rhoads filed a dissent on the Senate changes to the bill, but declared she would not attempt to reinstate her elimination of the public notice in the conference committee report. The conference committee report was passed by both the House and Senate. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

H.E.A. 1321, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, concerns insurance matters and was filed at the request of the state Department of Insurance. The original bill contained language eliminating the requirement that out-of-state insurance companies publish statements of their financial condition.

HSPA talked to Rep. Lehman about the value of continuing the requirement. Rep. Lehman, after conferring with the DOI Commissioner Stephen Robertson, agreed to amend the bill and restore the publication requirement, which occurred in the bill’s hearing before the House Insurance Committee. It then was approved by the committee and passed by the House, 95-0.

Sen. Allen Paul, R-Richmond, was the senate sponsor. The Senate Insurance Committee and the Senate, 48-0, approved the bill. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

S.E.A. 475, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, originally would allow counties to convert from a three commissioner board to single commissioner. The bill contained a quirky provision that would have made it an infraction for the county to publish public notice advertisements in more than the absolute minimum of newspapers required by law.

Sen. Holdman agreed with HSPA that the provision did not make any sense and had it removed by amendment during the bill’s hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. The bill eventually was converted into a request for an interim study committee look at the proposal, was passed by both chambers and by Gov. Mike Pence on April 24.

H.B. 1358, authored by Rep. Huston, R-Fishers, would have allowed parents to convert low-performing public schools in to charter schools. HSPA raised some questions about how notices of meetings would be given to the public and the bill’s impact on school performance reports. Rep. Huston asked for a memo on the concerns, but did not offer any amendments before the bill emerged from the House Education Committee with an 8-4 vote. Committee chair Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, was the bill’s co-author.

The bill was reassigned to the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, where it died.

Miscellaneous

S.B. 156, authored by Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, would have prohibited law enforcement from downloading information from cell phones without a warrant. HSPA testified in favor of this bill due to its concern with police obtaining information about anonymous sources.

The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary 8-0. Co-authors were Sens. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago; Mike Delph, R-Carmel; Lindel Hume, D-Princeton; and John Waterman, R-Shelburn. The Senate then approved the bill 49-0.

Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, was the bill’s sponsor, but the bill died for lack of a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code, chaired by Rep. Jud McMillan, R-Brookville. The co-sponsor of the bill was Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson.

S.B. 35, authored by Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, would have prohibited police from interfering with or preventing someone from filming police actions. HSPA supported this bill, but it died in the House Civil Law Committee, chaired by Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, without a hearing.

H.B. 1500, authored by Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, called for funding of the Reach Out and Read Program. Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, was the co-author. The bill died without a hearing in the House Family, Child and Human Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse.

S.B. 452, authored by Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, also called for funding the Reach out and Read Program. The bill died without a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.

 

Comments are closed.