HSPA lobbies public notice, public access bills in 2020
Session ends in March before COVID-19 concerns grip state
Prior to COVID-19, we’d shared the results of two public notice bills (H.B. 1003 and H.B. 1130) introduced in the 2020 Indiana General Assembly, Finally, here’s the update on the other bills that HSPA worked on or flagged during that session that ended a lifetime ago or March depending upon your point of view.
H.B. 1348 was a bill on state and local government administration authored by Rep. Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville. It included a provision to limit what a newspaper could charge an indigent person who needed to publish a public notice to the same amount the state prescribes for state and local government.
This was language HSPA worked out with the state’s two legal services organizations that serve the poor. The language had also been signed off by the state courts administration. HSPA testified in favor of the language during its hearing in the House Select Committee on Government Reduction, chaired by Rep. Gutwein and the Senate Public Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette. Sen. Justin Busch, R-Fort Wayne, was the sponsor of H.B. 1348 during its Senate passage.
The vote in the House was 91-0 and in the Senate, 45-0.
Unfortunately, the bill died in conference committee at the end of the session due to other provisions in the bill.
H.B. 1005 was a health care costs bill authored by Rep. D. Schaibley, R-Carmel. It contained language calling for notice, but not specifically a published notice. HSPA pointed out the lack of clarity in the language, but Rep. Schaibley said she was fine if the notice was conducted through an agency’s website. HSPA also suggested Rep. Schaibley might at least want to include language requiring notice to the media concerning a proposed public hearing outlined in the bill. Schaibley said she would consider the idea, but the language was not added.
The bill died when it failed to get a vote on the House floor due to other issues with the bill.
S.B. 145, authored by Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Syracuse, would have established the office of outdoor recreation development within the Indiana Destination Development Corporation. HSPA pointed out a notice provision wasn’t clear as to the type of notice required to Sen. Doriot, who responded he was satisfied with a website notification seeking applicants.
The bill died in the Senate Natural Resources Committee chaired by Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange.
S.B. 282 was a bill concerning health insurance reimbursement rates to medical providers authored by Sen. Jean Breaux D-Indianapolis. The bill included a public hearing when an insurance company proposed reducing a reimbursement to the state Department of Insurance, but the language didn’t specify what type of notice should be given for the hearing – Open Door Law or published public notice. HSPA pointed this out to Sen. Breaux, who said she wasn’t interested in a public notice due to the cost.
The bill died in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Eric Bassler, R-LaGrange.
S.B. 89 would have made it a Level 5 felony for a person who had two or more prior convictions for resisting or interfering with law enforcement. It was authored by Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville. HSPA raised a question concerning the bill’s impact on peaceful protest through acts of civil disobedience. Sen. Becker referred HSPA to Leo Blackwell who represents the Fraternal Order of Police. Blackwell and HSPA executive director and general Steve Key worked out an agreeable amendment. Katie Blair of the American Civil Liberties Union-Indiana though voiced a preference for existing language in the bill, which the ACLU felt had a less chilling impact on the First Amendment. HSPA acquiesced to the ACLU viewpoint and dropped the effort to amend the bill.
The bill died in the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis.
H.B. 1179 would make it unlawful to record images or data of the interior of a person’s residence without consent. It was authored by Rep. Jack Jordan, R-Bremen. It raised a concern for HSPA as to potential liability for reporters, which was brought to Rep. Jordan’s attention. After consultation with Dan Byron, general counsel for the Indiana Broadcasters Association, it was determined that the language did not pose a threat to newsgathering efforts.
The bill died in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.
H.B. 1405, authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, would prohibit the disciplining of school employees for communicating to the school board on a matter of public concern that did not disrupt school operations. HSPA was prepared to support the bill, but it died in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, without a hearing.
Open Door Law
H.B. 1040, authored by Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, would have required a court to award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in all civil actions. HSPA voiced its concern with Rep. Leonard that the language would be in conflict with attorney fee provisions under the Open Door Law And Access to Public Records Act that are designed not to punish a citizen who files an action in good faith. Leonard said Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, was not going to give this bill a hearing because it was “problematic.” Leonard added that his other attorney’s fees bill (H.B. 1135) might be filed again next year.
The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Torr.
H.B. 1135 was the other court costs bill introduced by Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington. It would require a court to award attorney’s fees under certain conditions where it now would be at the discretion of the judge. HSPA raised a concern over the possibility of the language being in conflict with current attorney fees under the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act. Leonard said he didn’t expect the bill to get a hearing, but that he probably will refile the bill in 2021’s General Assembly.
The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.
H.B. 1107 would have required voting for the presiding officer and other officers of the Indiana State Fair Board be held by a secret written ballot. The bill was authored by Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston. HSPA talked to Rep. Lehe about how that would be contrary to the Open Door Law’s prohibition against secret votes. Lehe was surprised at HSPA’s objection because HSPA didn’t object to H.E.A. 1638 in 2019.
HSPA executive director and general counsel Steve Key checked and found we had missed that language, not equating a “district convention” as a governing body under the Open Door Law. Key admitted to Lehe that HSPA failed to catch the 2019 language and raise an objection, but that HSPA still opposed the current bill. Lehe said an amendment to the original language was in the works.
H.B. 1107 died in the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, chaired by Lehe.
S.E.A. 25 creates mental health disability review panels to evaluate members of the police and firefighters’ pension and disability fund who had been determined to have an impairment due mental illness. The bill was authored by Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville.
HSPA raised a concern with a House floor amendment making the panel not a governing body, which would remove it from the Open Door Law. Sen. Boots committed to checking on the question with the Legislative Services Agency. There was no conference committee vote because the Senate concurred with the House version with a 48-0 vote, so the language was not changed. The House version was approved, 89-0. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 18.
S.E.A. 295 was an education matters bill that originally would have allowed school districts to seek waivers from various Indiana laws. The bill was authored by Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond. HSPA raised the concern that the language might allow schools to seek waivers from government transparency laws (Open Door law, Access to public Record Act, Public Notice Law). Sen. Raatz said the bill would be amended and was not intended to open the door for waivers of the Open Door law or Access to Public Records Act. The bill was amended in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, chaired by Raatz, which removed HSPA’s concern.
The bill’s conference committee report was approved by the Senate, 49-0, and by he House, 92-0. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on March 18.
S.E.A. 350, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, allows for the creation of a central Indiana regional development authority to develop a strategic economic development plan. HSPA raised a concern as to language that might circumvent the Open Door Law and access to Public Records Act.
Holdman said the language shouldn’t override the state’s transparency laws and committed to working with HSPA during the 2021 legislative session if a problem did occur.
The bill’s conference committee report was approved by the Senate, 34-15, and the House, 80-0. It was signed into law on March 18 by Gov. Eric Holcomb.
S.B. 64 would create an Indiana youth service program for high school students to be developed by the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis. HSPA had a concern about application of the Open Door Law to its board meetings, which it discussed with bill author Rep. Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis. Final version of the bill said members of the board will be determined by the state legislature, which would indicate the board would be subject to the state’s public access laws.
The bill passed the Senate, 40-10, but died in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.
Access to Public Records
H.E.A. 1108, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, concerns state Board of Accounts policies and procedures. It included language allowing the SBOA to issue confidential management letters to entities to point out areas of concern that don’t reach the point of action being required. SBOA’s Kendra Leatherman reached out to HSPA to see if we had a concern. She explained the new language is part of the existing audit process, which is already confidential. Public Access Counselor Luke Britt called HSPA with questions about the bill’s impact. HSPA had another conversation with Kendra Leatherman concerning confidentiality status of “confidential management letters.” HSPA also talked to Rep. Lehman about issue of when or if those letters should be made disclosable. Lehman said he understood and would do some checking.
Lehman did not suggest any changes before the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen. Steve Key testified on HSPA concern, but the committee response was silence. HSPA then talked to Sen. Eric Bassler, R-Washington, who was the bill’s sponsor. Bassler agreed to file a second reading amendment, which was accepted by the Senate with a voice vote. Key talked to Lehman and Bassler about pushback Bassler was getting on his amendment from the SBOA. HSPA submitted potential language to meet Lehman’s concerns. Lehman inserted into the conference committee a compromise that would require the SBOA to note there had been a management letter previously noting a non-compliance issue if it had to be addressed in a subsequent audit.
The conference committee report was approved by the House, 92-0 and the Senate, 43-6. Gov. Eric Holcomb singed the bill into law on March 21.
S.E.A. 241, authored by Sen, Linda Brown, R-Fort Wayne, was one of several filed in the session concerning regulation of pharmacy benefit managers. HSPA raised questions about the level of confidentiality the bills provided to information submitted to the state by the benefit managers.
HSPA reached out to Sen. Brown, but did not connect. HSPA did talk to Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, who was the bill’s sponsor and authored a similar bill, H.B. 1042. Rep. Davisson was sympathetic but hampered by his treatment for throat cancer. Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, stepped in when Davisson was unavailable. Rep. Clere also tried to help HSPA’s cause, but suggested language from HSPA was not put into the conference committee report.
The conference committee report was approved by the Senate, 49-0, and the House, 91-0. Governor Eric Holcomb signed S.B. 241 into law on March 18.
H.B. 1042, authored by Rep. Steve Davisson, R- Salem, was another pharmacy benefit managers and their regulation bill. HSPA had concerns with confidentiality provisions concerning information the benefit managers would submit to the state. Rep. Davisson was sympathetic to HSPA’s concerns.
The legislative leadership decided to move S.B. 241, so H.B. 1042 died in conference committee.
S.B. 15 was another pharmacy benefits managers bill. It was authored by Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville. It contained a confidentiality provision that concerned HSPA. Before HSPA could talk to Sen. Grooms, the bill died in Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.
S.B. 38 was another bill concerning pharmacy benefits managers. It also had the confidentiality provision that concerned HSPA. Sen. Charbonneau directed HSPA to Sen. Linda Brown, who authored S.B. 241, as the bill that would move forward. Charbonneau’s bill died in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, chaired by Charbonneau.
S.B. 268, authored by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, this bill would have allowed for automated traffic control cameras to issue tickets to speeders in highway work zones. HSPA talked to Sen. Ford about its concern with confidentiality of information just prior to its Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee hearing, chaired by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield. HSPA noted differences in this bill compared to the video of school buses for tickets in S.E.A. 2 from the 2019 legislative session. HSPA testified as to the burden the language would place on the courts to hold closed proceedings. The bill was held for a week before passage. S.B. 268 died for lack of a vote on the Senate floor.
H.B. 1286 also would have created an automated traffic control system to issue tickets for speeding in roadway construction sites. It was authored by Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage. HSPA was concerned with a confidentiality provision. The bill died in the House Roads and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, prior to HSPA having the opportunity to talk to Rep. Moseley about its concern.
S.E.A. 216, authored by Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, amends the access to public records act to provide that personal information regarding a correctional officer, probation officer, community corrections officer, law enforcement officer, judge, crime victim, or their family members may be withheld from disclosure when requested by a person confined in a prison, county jail, detention facility, or in a community corrections program as a result of the person’s arrest or conviction for a crime, or that person’s agent or relative. (Previously the law permitted withholding personal information of officers, judges, victims, or their family members, if the information is requested by a person incarcerated in a penal institution after conviction for a crime.).
HSPA testified n favor of the bill during its Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee hearing, chaired by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis. Sen. Young raised a question about a loophole in the language that would allow friends of an inmate to ask for the same information that could be denied the inmate. Legislative Services Agency developed language to cover “agents” of the inmates to close that loophole.
After initial Senate passage of the bill, Matt Brase of LegisGroup Public
Affairs talked to HSPA about expanding the exception to cover local correctional officers. HSPA did not oppose his effort and that change was made via House floor amendment.
The House passed the bill 94-0 and the Senate concurred with a 49-0 vote. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 18.
H.B. 1279 was authored by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso. It included language to allow the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to establish a nonprofit entity to carry out economic development projects around future locations of commuter train stations. The bill also included language concerning payment to the state that could be required for the Indianapolis public transit system, IndyGo.
Sebastian Smelko of Ice Miller law firm reached out to HSPA to talk about the intent of the bill. HSPA explained it had no objection to intent but had a concern with inconsistencies in language concerning confidentiality of economic development information compared to current law for other economic development projects.
HSPA testified on that issue before the bill’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, chaired by Sen. Ryan Mishler, Bremen. The Legislative Services Agency attorney acknowledged the need for an amendment to be consistent with current law. The issue was fixed with a committee amendment before its passage out of committee.
A conference committee report was approved by the Senate, 46-3, but the bill died at the last hour without a House vote. Apparently, the IndyGo language was the stumbling block
S.B. 312 concerned parents with a disability and their rights under law. It was authored by Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend. HSPA talked to Sen. Niezgodski prior to the bill’s Senate committee hearing with a concern about language that would allow for the destruction of public records. Niezgodski committed to working with HSPA to fix the issue, which he did through an amendment that would transfer the records to an ombudsman rather than have them destroyed.
The bill passed in the Senate 47-0, but died in the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Dale DeVon, R-Granger.
H.B. 1242 was similar to S.B. 312. It concerned parents with a disability and their rights. The House bill was authored by Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis. HSPA was concerned with expungement language included in the bill concerning the unlawful removal of a child from the home a disabled parent.
The bill died in the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Dale DeVon, R-Granger, prior to an opportunity for HSPA to talk to Rep. Porter.
S.E.A. 335 was a criminal law matters bill authored by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis.
HSPA talked to Sen. Young and Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, who was a conference committee advisor to the bill, about a provision restricting access to certain records received by the state judicial administration. Both assured HSPA that the restrictions would not impact access to records at the trial court level.
The bill’s conference committee report was approved by the Senate, 48-1, and the House, 89-2. It was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on March 21.
H.B. 1132 was a criminal and juvenile law matters bill authored by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville. HSPA raised a concern about language concerning confidentiality of records concerning firearms possession. Rep. Steuerwald directed HSPA to the Indiana Prosecuting attorneys Council. IPAC’s Dave Powell explained that the language was not a change in law but merely moving it from one section to another, which answered HSPA’s concern.
The bill died in conference committee.
H.B. 1383 would have required the state judicial administration to collect and publish statistics related to the confiscation of firearms taken from dangerous individuals. HSPA was concerned with the level of confidentiality for some of the information collected.
Before HSPA could talk to the bill’s author, Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, the bill died in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.
H.E.A. 1182, authored by Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, this bill deals with HIV fatality reviews and syringe exchange programs. HSPA raised a concern about language that would require the fatality review teams to destroy records that they had received during a review. Rep. Clere asked HSPA to testify during the bill’s House Public Health Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove. Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, disagreed with HSPA’s position, saying the records should be destroyed. After the hearing, Rep. Clere asked HSPA to compare the language to other similar situations. HSPA checked with the Indiana Archives, Public Access Counselor and the Indiana State Health Department. HSPA determined that the language did match existing language concerning the state’s Child Fatality Review program. It reported back to Rep. Clere and withdrew its concern.
The Senate approved the bill 36-14 and the House concurred with a 78-7 vote. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 18.
H.E.A. 1198 included language to designate E911 dispatchers as first responders. It was authored by Rep. Dave Abbott, R-Rome City. HSPA reached out to Rep. Abbott to determine whether the move was connected to a lawsuit filed by Fox 59 TV station in its attempt to get copies of emergency calls to the Carroll County E911 dispatch center concerning a residential fire in Delphi that killed four children. Abbott’s legislative assistant assured HSPA that there was no connection – that Abbott only wanted to recognize the role E911 dispatchers play in emergency response.
The House passed the bill, 98-0, and the Senate approved, 49-0. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 18.
H.B. 1103 was introduced by Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis. This bill concerned landlord-tenant law. It included a provision allowing a prevailing tenant in a lawsuit to expunge records related to the case. HSPA generally opposes the expansion of expungement provisions and would have specifically opposed its expansion to civil actions. The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, prior to HSPA having the opportunity to talk to Rep. Shackleford.
H.B. 1116 was a bill requiring drug information reporting to the state Department of Insurance, particularly pricing information. Rep. Robin Shackleford, R-Indianapolis, was the bill’s author. HSPA would have opposed language making all information submitted to the insurance department confidential.
Before HSPA could reach out to Rep. Shackleford, the bill died in the House Insurance Committee, chaired by Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne.
H.B. 1159 was a bill concerning juvenile court record expungements and firearms matters. Rep. Donna Schaibley, R-Carmel, was the author. HSPA had a concern with an amendment added in its House Courts and Criminal Code Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville. The issue was with the level of confidentiality connected to the confiscation of firearms that would be reported to the state judicial administration.
The bill died for lack of a vote on the House floor.
H.B. 1406 also concerned the expungement of juvenile records. It was authored by Rep. Shackleford, D-Indianapolis. HSPA in general opposes the expungement of public records The bill died in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, prior to a conversation between Rep. Shackleford and HSPA.
S.B. 351 dealt with juvenile law matters and included expungement of records language. It was authored by Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. HSPA in general opposes expungement of public records.
The bill died in the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law committee, chaired by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, prior to any conversation about the bill between HSPA and Sen. Taylor.
S.B. 112, authored by Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, would have created a cannabis compliance commission to regulate legal cannabis, industrial hemp and low THC hemp extract. HSPA talked to Tallian’s legislative assistant about a concern with language that would allow the commission to establish rules as to public notice and the confidentiality of records of applicants for licenses or permits, rather than have those rules established by the legislature. He said he would pass the information on to Sen. Tallian.
The bill died in the Senate Public Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette.
H.B. 1216, authored by Rep. Lisa Beck, D-Hebron, would have created a medical marijuana program. HSPA had a concern over a confidentiality provision. Before HSPA could talk to Rep. Beck, the bill died in the House Public Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn.
H.B. 1359 would have created a five-year medical cannabis pilot program administered by the state Department of Health. It was authored by Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary. HSPA had a concern with a provision concerning confidentiality of certain records. Before HSPA could talk to Rep. Hatcher, the bill died in the House Public Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn.
H.B. 1163 was a bill about medical marijuana. It was authored by Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie. HSPA had a concern with a confidentiality provision included in the original bill. HSPA talked to Rep. Errington who was willing to look at an amendment and asked HSPA to look at language in other states.
The bill died in the House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove.
S.B. 85 would have prohibited racial profiling and pretextual stops by law enforcement agencies. It was authored by Sen. Greg Taylor, R-Indianapolis. HSPA asked Sen. Taylor to consider an amendment to language concerning confidentiality of records. Sen. Taylor was receptive to the HSPA language and said he would likely incorporate the proposed language, but the bill died in the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, chaired by Sen. Michael Young R-Indianapolis.
H.B. 1178 would have outlawed racial profiling and pretextual stops. It was authored by Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. It mirrored S.B. 85, authored by Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. HSPA initially approached Sen. Taylor with a request for an amendment, which he agreed to accept. That language was then shared with Rep. Pryor, who said she would consider it.
The bill died in the House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee.
H.B. 1373, authored by Rep. Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville, would have allowed for video gaming terminals in veterans’ service organizations under a licensing structure overseen by the state. HSPA was concerned over differences in the level of confidentiality for the proposed licensing compared to other gambling operations.
Before HSPA had the opportunity to talk to Rep. Gutwein about the issue, the bill died in the House Public Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn.
H.B. 1229 was an education matters bill authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour. It included a confidentiality provision that concerned HSPA. Before HSPA could talk to Rep. Lucas, the bill died in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.
S.B. 4 concerned state administered health programs. It was authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso. HSPA reached out to Sen. Charbonneau concerning language creating a fee for access to certain information. Charbonneau clarified that the language only gave the entity an option to charge a fee and that any fee would be subject to I.C. 5-14-3-8, which limits a fee to direct costs.
The bill died in conference committee, after passing in the Senate, 47-3, and in the House, 82-12.
S.E.A. 50 addressed various trust and probate law issues. It was authored by Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis. HSPA talked to Sen. Freeman about confidentiality provisions included in the bill. He directed HSPA to the Indiana Bar Association, whose witness during the bill’s committee hearing explained the language mirrored the Supreme Court’s Administrative Rule 9 (the court’s version of the state Access to Public Records Act). Her explanation resolved HSPAs concern.
The House passed the bill, 92-0 and the Senate concurred with the House version, 41-0. It was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb on March 18
S.E.A. 61 would put Indiana into an EMS personnel licensure interstate compact. It was authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso. HSPA felt there were provisions of confidentiality that were unnecessary, but unfortunately, interstate compacts are not open to amendments by the compact states, which may reject Indiana’s application if the state’s legislation is not consistent with the compact.
The Senate passed the bill 50-0 and the House passed it with no amendments, 94-0. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 11.
S.B. 355 would have had Indiana join a psychology interjurisdictional compact. It was authored by Sen. Veneta Becker, R-Evansville. HSPA believes the compact has confidentiality provisions that would be broader than normal in Indiana law, but as noted previously, compact legislation is rarely amended for fear that the compact states will reject Indiana’s admission if it deviates from the introduced bill.
The bill was passed by the Senate 50-0, but died in the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville.
S.B. 361 concerned municipal electric utilities contracts for power. It was authored b Sen. Stacey Donato, R-Logansport. It requires the utility to make available for public inspection and copying under the statute governing access to public records: (1) a verified copy of a power-purchasing contract; or (2) a memorandum of the contract that includes information concerning certain specified terms of the contract. Requires a municipally owned electric utility to monitor, and maintain data on, the levels of peak demand and electricity usage on the electric utility’s electric system, including seasonal and time-of-day variation in such levels. Requires the utility to: (1) compile the required data on a calendar year basis; (2) maintain the data compiled for a particular calendar year for a period of five years; and (3) make the data available for inspection and copying at the offices of the utility. There was a provision that HSPA felt needed an amendment.
Before HSPA could talk to Sen. Donato, the bill died in the Senate Utilities Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis.
S.B. 380 would require county election board to adopt a county election incident response plan to deal with man-made or natural disasters. It was authored by Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis. HSPA was concerned with language that documents considered in the drafting of a plan or amendment would be confidential.
The bill died in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation, chaired by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, prior to any conversation between HSPA and Sen. Ford on the bill.
S.B. 349 would have amended statutory provisions for the Office of Community and Rural Affairs to give grants to improve broadband service in under-served areas. Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, was the bill’s author. HSPA had a concern with a confidentiality provision and attended the bill’s Senate Utilities Committee hearing so it could talk to her about the issue afterwards.
The bill died in that committee hearing when the chair, Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, declined to give the bill a vote.
S.B. 182 addressed health practitioner advertising and identification. It was authored by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg. HSPA talked to Sen. Leising about the impact of the language on advertising. She said it was an American Medical Association bill, but the provision that concerned HSPA was directed at identification badges, not advertising.
The bill died in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.
S.E.A. 409 set out rules for the employment of minors. It was authored by Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper. The bill includes exceptions to allow for youth newspapers carriers, which HSPA supports.
The House passed the bill, 90-3, and the Senate concurred with the House version, 39-3. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on March 21.
S.B. 73 This bill reports of potential violations of environmental rules to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. It was authored by Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville. HSPA reached out to Tim Maloney of the Hoosier Environmental Council to raise a question concerning a provision that would allow an alleged polluter to request from IDEM the identify of a whistleblower. HSPA felt this would discourage the reporting of violations, particularly by employees of a polluting company.
The bill died in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange.
S.B. 432 This environmental bill would have required every company whose product results in waste packaging or paper to register with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and submit a plan for approval that would call for the company to have a recycling program financed by the company. The bill was authored by Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington.
The cost for newspapers would have been unsustainable. HSPA was prepared to oppose the legislation, but it died without a hearing in Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs, chaired by Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper.