Statehouse Committee Deadline: Controversial Transit Bill Dies but Language Appears in Amendments
Last Thursday was the committee report deadline for both the Senate and House, meaning all regular committees are finished meeting for this legislative session. Bills that did not pass out of committee are considered dead, although their language is eligible to become amended into another moving bill (we will end this update on a concerning example of this).
This week is the Second and Third reading deadlines in both chambers. After bills pass their second chamber, the House and the Senate will take bills that were amended during their time in the opposite chamber to a conference committee, where small groups of legislators will negotiate the differences.
In terms of Aspire priorities, each remaining Broadband bill passed out of committee and most have made it through second reading on the floor. We continue to celebrate legislators’ effort to close the digital divide. And regarding the tobacco tax increase, we will continue to advocate for its replacement into the budget bill after Senate stripped it out.
Here are some notable bills that died in committee or are still moving.
Constitutional Carry Bill Dies in Senate
HB 1369, which would have eliminated the requirement for those carrying a handgun to have a license in Indiana, will not survive the legislative session. Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and said she would not give House Bill 1369 a hearing. Instead, the Senate will eliminate the $75 fee to get a lifetime carry permit and cover the cost in the state budget.
Senate Elections Committee Heard Bill that to Prohibit Absentee Voting Expansion
Last Tuesday, the Senate Elections Committee heard SB 353. As drafted, the bill would prohibit the Indiana election commission from: instituting, increasing, or expanding vote by mail or absentee vote by mail, and require an applicant for an absentee ballot application to include the driver's license number or last four digits of the individual's Social Security number.
Some have drawn comparisons to the recent election law passed in Georgia. While the bills have significant differences – for example, Indiana’s does not include the provision that voters cannot be offered food or water while waiting in line at the polls – both require additional documentation when applying for an absentee ballot.
On Thursday, the bill was significantly scaled back and passed out of committee. It now only requires Hoosiers to include their driver’s license number or last four digits of their social on an online absentee ballot application.
Controversial IndyGo Legislation Dies in House; Language Amended into Utility Bills
SB 141, authored by Senator Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), is one of the most controversial bills of the session. First, it sought to eliminate dedicated lanes for the Blue Line, which would have jeopardized the federal funding for the project. Second, it sought to disallow IndyGo from counting federal grants for the portion of their budget that is not from fares or income tax dollars.
The bill ultimately died in the House Roads and Transportation Committee by not receiving a vote before the deadline. However, since the bill passed one chamber, the language is still eligible to become an amendment into another bill and/or for conference committee.