Last week, the Statehouse committee meetings occupied most of my time. As part of the legislative process, bills must be assigned to committees and then must pass out of the committee in order to be heard by the full House. Since bills have switched chambers, we are now hearing Senate Bills.
The Senate passed out 132 bills but not all of them will be heard by the various House committees. Here are some of the top bills coming over from the Senate being heard in the House during the next two weeks.
Senate Bill (SB) 163 - Child Support Matters
This legislation would require gambling operations to withhold cash winnings from parents who are at least $2,000 or 3 months past due on child support payments.
It is the right thing to do and parents who owe "back" child support should pay the debt before receiving winnings from gambling.
SB 23 - Unemployment Insurance
The labor and unemployment committee met last Thursday to begin hearing testimony on delaying the unemployment insurance tax increase. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that raised taxes on small, medium and large Hoosier employers by roughly $750 million over the next two years.
The Senate recently passed SB 23 that would delay the tax increase by one year. If SB 23 does not pass, then more than 72,000 small businesses (businesses with 1-49 employees) will see a tax increase of anywhere from $9 to $511 per employee.
At this time, no future committee date has been set. It is my hope that the House committee meets again this week and passes this legislation so the full House can take action on SB 23.
SB 150 - School Start Date
SB 150 would prohibit schools from starting before Labor Day and from ending after June 10. It would, however, give local school boards the ability to push the end date past June 10. The legislation also excludes certain schools, including year-round schools and schools with balanced calendars.
SB 150 would still require schools to provide the same amount of "time on task" as the present 180 day school year with five hours for elementary students and six hours "time on task" for high school students.
Over the years, I have been approached by many constituents who have grown increasingly unhappy with early school start dates encroaching on their summers. Any issue dealing with education is important and I am looking forward to examining this legislation.
SB 285 - Sale and Tracking of Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine
Indiana is 2nd in the nation for the number of methamphetamine (commonly referred to as "meth") labs discovered. Meth is a highly addictive drug and SB 285 is an attempt to reduce its use and manufacturing in Indiana.
The legislation would strengthen the current system put in place to track ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (PSE), common ingredients used to make meth. The legislation requires most retailers to electronically transmit information on the sale of ephedrine and PSE to a statewide tracking system.
Additionally, employees would be required to advise customers of the consequences of purchasing more than the lawfully allowed amount, 3.6 grams of either drug in one day or 9 grams in a 30-day period.
Currently, pharmaceutical stores each carry their own computer systems which are not linked to one another therefore allowing people to drive from pharmacy to pharmacy and buy ephedrine and PSE without being tracked by pharmacies. SB 285 would now cover that gap in the system.
SB 224 - Electronic Dissemination of Indecent Material "Sexting"
Hoosier teens face more problems than you and I ever dreamed of when we were youngsters. There has always been the typical school yard bully or the stress of passing exams, but I can't imagine having to deal with classmates sending each other provocative imagines on their cell phones, otherwise known as "sexting."
Currently, Indiana has no laws that cover this alarming behavior except to charge teens with felonies. Sexting is a growing problem among teens and SB 224 is aimed at stopping this recent trend.
This legislation would carve out a new, less punitive offense for a teen that "sexts." It would give juvenile courts the ability to require the teen and the teen's parents to attend an educational program or outpatient counseling. While these subjects are never pleasant to discuss, I feel we should deal with this issue in a commonsense manner and help Hoosier parents and youths who are trying to deal with this sensitive topic.
Ways to Stay in Touch
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, questions or concerns as these issues, along with any others, move through the legislative process. Your comments are my most valuable tool as I review legislation and decide whether or not to support them.
Letter: 200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
To follow the proceedings of the Indiana General Assembly visit www.in.gov/legislative and click on "Watch Indiana General Assembly Live."
To track legislation visit www.in.gov/legislative and under Session Information you will be able to follow bills by bill number or subject matter.