March 3 Legislative Update

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The ninth week of session marks the half way point of the 120th Indiana General Assembly, and the business of the legislators has been carried out with very few surprises.  Maybe because the topic du jour is roads the legislators were compelled to “stay in their lane”.
At this point, any bill that has not passed out of the chamber in which it originated is considered dead. Some of the priority bills that were heard this week included: 
House Bill 1001- the Biennial budget which also contains issues important to LeadingAge Indiana members like the building moratorium and the extension of the Quality Assessment Fee.  An amendment to remove the moratorium language was defeated on the House floor 48-43.  
House Bill 1578- Tobacco use, received significant attention this session and passed out of the House 54-38 after amending out three of the four tenants of the bill.  Only the Smokers Bill of Rights survived as language in the bill with the increase in the cigarette tax by $1 per pack finding a new home in the budget.
Each bill will once again have to pass a committee hearing, have the opportunity to be amended on the floor, and ultimately be voted out of the second chamber with a majority vote.  As a reminder, this session is a “long session” and is anticipated to adjourn for the year one week ahead of schedule on April 21, 2017.
Points of Interest
House Bill 1001- Biennial Budget, Rep. Tim Brown (R), appropriates money for the operation of the state, education, Medicaid and all other initiatives that receive any type of state funding. The biennial budget as it currently stands will allocate over 50 percent of the entire budget to K-12 education, while another large section will be devoted to infrastructure improvements and combating the opioid epidemic. Opponents of the budget argue that the formula used to allocate money to each school corporation does not provide fair distribution for schools with falling enrollment. The budget bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 68-29. House Bill 1001 will now go to the Senate to be amended to reflect the priorities of the Senate. The final budget will likely be finalized in the last week of session and will be a compromise that reflects both the priorities of the Senate and the House
HB 1493 Long Term Care Rebalancing Plan, authored by Rep. Chairman Tim Brown, passed out of the full House on February 27 by a vote of 92-0.  Sen. Ryan Mishler of Bremen will be the sponsor in the Senate.  
Another key legislative development was the success of SB 559 as it passed the full senate 47-3 after sitting on the shelf until the last possible moment to be moved in committee and brought to the floor for a full vote.  SB 559 deals with a senior affordable housing tax emption.
A big thank you goes out to the members that placed calls and sent emails to the legislators during the first half of the session.   If you haven’t already, please make sure you register to receive my “Call to Action” alerts.  Visit the LeadingAge Indiana Advocacy Action Center.  You will be prompted for your membership username and password to gain access to the information or to sign up.  More call to action alerts will be coming in the second half of the legislative session as these issues and others move forward.
For a full list of bills that could have an impact upon the long term care industry, click here.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to these matters.  
Best regards, Mike 
Michael Rinebold
LeadingAge Indiana



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