As things are quickly wrapping up in the statehouse, only a few bills remain for final revisions before making their way to Governor Holcomb. Throughout this short legislative session, the Chamber has been watching several bills that have the potential to affect its business members with special attention on:
HB 1001: In the wake of the Omicron variant, legislators at the beginning of the short session considered the effectiveness of vaccine mandates and the role of private employers. This bill received a great deal of attention from those outside the statehouse for its loose exemption guidelines that were approved by the House mid-January. Recognizing the implications of this, the Senate amended this provision to mimic federal regulations regarding religious or medical exemptions in mid-February. Under this new law, private employers are not allowed to enforce a vaccine mandate without providing opportunities for employees to apply for exemption. Firing employees who apply for exemption could result in businesses paying for unemployment. New versions of the bill also take away the burden of COVID testing costs from the employer and places it on the employee or state to cover.
HB 1002: In its original form, HB 1002 confronted various tax matters with a major point of discussion being the removal of the 30% floor for Indiana’s Business Personal Property Tax. House Representatives approved this bill at the end of January before sending it over to the Senate where it was gutted by worried officials in early March. Now, House and Senate legislators need to work together to resolve any issues posed by opposing chambers. Important add-ons to this bill are amendments that prevent the Indiana Lottery from using online platforms and set sunset provisions for the Food & Beverage Tax (with an explicit exception for Monroe County and other areas).
SB 361: In an attempt to revitalize the state’s economy, SB 361 gives increased authority to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to establish Innovation Development Districts (IDD) and distribute $300M in tax credits with an additional $300M appropriated for a special fund to be used for innovation. Upon receiving this bill from the Senate, House Representatives made changes to how money raised from taxes in these districts is reinvested back to local communities as opposed to a state-wide fund. Included in this bill is another provision that is the least talked about, but perhaps the most exciting. As a way to attract film production in the Hoosier state, tax incentives will be offered to companies in the film industry for shooting in Indiana.
To follow any last-minute changes, head over to the Indiana General Assemby's website here.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has renewed the state's public health emergency order through Oct. 31. Among other things, that means public bodies like the Bloomington Council and Monroe County Commissioners can continue holding their meetings via Zoom.
Another executive order, in effect Oct. 1, extends certain pandemic-related provisions previously in place, including registration requirements for some healthcare workers and the implementation of Indiana Medicaid.
A local mask mandate, put in place by the Monroe County Commissioners, was also extended through Oct. 31.
The $270 million Indiana Connectivity Program was launched this week to connect residents and businesses that lack access to broadband internet service with service providers and to assist in the cost of extending broadband to those locations. It is offered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
To be eligible for the program, a location must either have no access to internet, or access to download speeds less then 25 Mbps and upload speeds less than 3 Mbps. Homeowners and business owners looking to participate in the program can go to the Next Level Connections portal and enter their address and information. They can also call the Indiana Broadband Connect Center during business hours at 833-639-8522.
Click here for more information about the Connectivity Program.
The Indiana House of Representatives released drafts redistricting maps on Sept. 14 and held public hearings the following two days. An amend-and-vote-only meeting was held on Sept. 20 for committee members with a 9-4 outcome in favor of amending House Bill 1851. Second and third hearings are expected to take place on Sept. 22 and 23.
The State House of Representatives Districts and Congressional Districts maps are available online, along with previous versions of those districts.
The Senate will follow a similar process, with the Elections Committee providing the public with drafts of its new maps on Sept. 21. Hearings for these plans will be held on Sept. 27 and another amend-and-vote meeting will take place on Sept. 28. Second and third hearings will follow on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively. UPDATE: Proposed Senate maps are now available here.
To make your voice heard and submit a written testimony for the Senate Elections Committee hearing on Sept. 27, contact the State Sen. John Ford (R-Terre Haute) at email@example.com.
For more information on the Indiana General Assembly's redistricting process and timeline, click here.
Starting July 1, all Indiana employers who employee five or more employees under the age of 18 (per location), must begin using the Youth Employment System (YES) to track and report minor-employee information. Schools will no longer issue work permits effective July 1, and the new requirement is designed to simplify the process of hiring minor employees.
YES is live now, and employers can begin using the system now to set up their accounts and start inputting their minor-employee information. Employers who fail to comply with the new law effective July 1 could face a penalty of up to $400 per infraction.
More information is available on the DOL's Youth Employment site here.
The final 2021 Indiana Legislative Update took place on Saturday, April 10, with briefings from Rep. Peggy Mayfield (District 60) and Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61).
The monthly forums, held while the Indiana General Assembly is in session, are co-hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters of Monroe County, and the LWV of Brown County.
Watch the April 10 forum on CATS here.
The Indiana Dept. of Transportation is surveying residents about their transportation needs and preferences, with information to be used in the Monroe County Coordinated Public Transit-Human Service Transportation Plan.
The brief survey asks about current forms of transportation that are used, types of services that you'd use if available, and other transportation needs.
Click here to take the survey.
State Senator Shelli Yoder will hold office hours every Friday from 8:30-10 a.m. to talk with constituents in District 40. The first session, to be held online, will be on Feb. 5.
District 40 covers most of Monroe County, including the City of Bloomington.
Click here for details about how to attend.
The Chamber is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Bloomington/Monroe County for a monthly Legislative Update series, starting on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 9:30-11 a.m.
The virtual event will be conducted via Zoom. Click here to register.
State legislators representing Monroe County will give overviews of their activities in the Indiana General Assembly and will take questions from the audience. Each session will be taped by CATS and replayed on scheduled dates or on request.
Subsequent updates are planned February 13, March 6, and April 10.
Indiana legislators have started to file bills for the 2021 General Assembly session, which runs through April 29. Find a list of the proposed bills for the Senate and House of Representatives here.
The Chamber's Legislative Council will be tracking bills of interest to the business community. And legislators representing all or parts of Bloomington/Monroe County will give their insights on the upcoming session at the Chamber's Legislative Preview on January 15. Click here to register.