Statehouse Enters Fourth Quarter, Advances Economic Development Priorities

By Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance | | 4.4.23

We are just under two weeks away from this year’s final committee deadlines. All Senate bills will need to be heard in their respective House committees by April 11th, and House bills will need to pass Senate committees by April 13th. Many committees have adjourned for the year, and there are a few that will have their last hearing this week. Lawmakers are starting to get a feel for whether their legislation is going to move, and if not, they’re likely thinking of finding homes for it in conference committee.

Aspire has a sense of where our priority issues are headed, too.

The session began with a half dozen bills aimed to boost the affordability and accessibility of childcare. The remaining language making the On My Way Pre-K program permanent lives within HB 1591, an education omnibus bill. Funding for the program was moved into the budget bill. HB 1591 moved out of the Senate Education committee 11-2 last week and was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Aspire has testified in support of this language throughout the session and signed a joint letter encouraging Senator Mishler, Chair of Appropriations, to hear the bill and keep the Pre-K language in.

We are still encouraging legislators to find a home in moving bills for other good early learning proposals introduced at the start of session, such as an employer tax credit for underwriting employee’s child care. We know affordability and accessibility to quality childcare is a hurdle for parents wanting to work.

Availability and affordability of housing is another critical workforce hurdle for high-growth communities like Johnson County. We’ve been tracking several proposals to support local residential development. As we’ve previously reported, HB 1005 creates a revolving loan fund for cities and towns to ready the infrastructure needed for new neighborhoods. The bill was heard and amended in the Senate Appropriations committee to adopt the residential tax increment finance language from SB 300, which is no longer moving. The amended language would remove the existing thresholds on new housing starts governing when a municipality could create a new housing TIF district, making this tool more readily available to municipalities. The bill passed out of committee 10-1 and will move on to the House floor where additional amendments may be considered. Aspire has supported this bill throughout the session and will continue to express our support to legislators.

A few weeks ago, we reported on HB 1451 which increases the amount of earnings someone can keep when they work part-time while drawing unemployment insurance. The bill passed the Senate floor on third reading last week with a 42-0 vote. Because there were no changes to this House bill in the Senate, the bill will go to the Governor’s desk for a final signature. This bill supports workers trying to support themselves while they seek full time work and supports employers who need workers.

Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge HB 1001, the biennial budget bill. We have been supportive of the aggressive funding for economic development tools to help Indiana compete in a global market. The budget draft appropriates $500M for the Governor’s Regional Economic Acceleration Development Initiative (READI) 2.0 in fiscal year 2023 and expands the uses of READI grants to include initiatives supporting mental health, housing infrastructure, and broadband expansion. It also creates a $500M deal closing fund for use by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), and establishes a $150M revolving fund for site acquisition to complement IEDC’s deal closing fund.

This is important funding because the READI program aims to boost talent attraction and retention, and talent is the currency of business. Indiana can’t win company expansion deals if we don’t have adequate talent. Aspire is at the table with prospective companies looking to locate in Johnson County and talent is always the first topic of conversation.