I-CAN Update - March 26, 2015                      pdf version



Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops in Indiana regarding state and national matters.

There are two weeks left for bills to clear committee and in three weeks all bills have to clear the second chamber. Hence, committees are busy and bills are moving out of the chambers; calendars/agendas are full.


SB 101, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed the House 63 31 on Monday. On Wednesday, the Senate concurred 40 10 with the changes made in the House. The bill was signed by Governor Pence on Thursday. Because the House added language to clarify that employees  could not create a private action against an employer, the Senate had to agree, concur, with the change.


Once a bill passes the second chamber, it is eligible for concurrence at any time thereafter. Typically, these wait until conference committee part of the session following third reading deadline. However, there have been several bills where there is no disagreement about the changes and the original body agrees. Another example of this was HB 1065, the Right to try bill, which allows certain patients the right to try experimental drugs not yet approved by FDA. This was amended and passed by Senate; the House agreed and it was signed into law by the Governor this week also.


HB 1093, Information concerning disabilities, passed the Senate 48 2.  A technical amendment was added in the Senate; however the House is expected to concur with it. The bill requires the State Department of Health to provide information for families who receive diagnosis of a disability. It will give parents information about the disability and the support available for the child and the family. This is a very positive bill that promotes the dignity of all lives and will make a difference for many families.


SB 532, Human trafficking and indecent nuisances, passed the House 97 0. Included in it were provisions from SB 375, which also dealt with human trafficking; it directs the proceeds of seized assets used as part of the crime for victims and prosecution. The bill returns to the Senate where concurrence is expected. ICC supports the bill.


SB 546, Abortion matters, passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 77 22. The bill clarifies the law regarding the use of RU 486. It is in response to the 2013 law that requires abortion providers to comply with surgical clinic requirements. SB 546 exempts all providers who prescribe the drug fewer than five times a year. There were no amendments; the bill should return to the House and move to the Governor for signature.


HB 1016, Newborn safety incubators, was amended and passed the Senate Health Committee 10 0. The bill attempts to replicate what is offered in many other countries and in two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. The intent is to decrease the number of abandoned newborns by permitting an anonymous drop off in addition to the current safe haven law that permits someone to leave a baby with public safety officials or hospitals. While the goal is worthwhile; there were many questions about implementation. The House version gave the Health Department a year to set standards and protocols for implementation in July 2016. The Senate version provides for the Department to establish these and also tasks the Commission on Children to respond to other questions and concerns regarding implementation and the current safe haven law and to report to the legislature next year. Then next year the legislature can determine the best manner to craft the law for implementation.


HB 1349, Various tax matters, moved out of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee but Chairman Brandt Hershman (R Buck Creek) removed the EITC provisions to make it a simpler matter and to improve the support for low-income working families. It is unlikely that it can be restored on second reading or during conference committee.


Bills we are still watching include:
SB 334, Abortion prohibition based on sex or disability
, - it is unlikely that the bill will be heard in the House.
SB 329, Disposition of aborted remains, - we expect this to be heard in the next two weeks.
SB 208, Oocyte cryopreservation, - remains in committee but pressure is on to hear the bill; ICC opposes the bill.
HB 1616, Eligibility for child care voucher, - awaits hearing in Senate Appropriations.
SB 127, Religious exemption for state and local contracts, - awaits a hearing in House Judiciary Committee.
HB 1004, Safety PIN grant program, - awaits amendment/action in Senate Family and Children Services Committee after hearing last week.  Bill will be heard in Committee Monday AM.
SB 385, Murder sentencing, aggravating circumstances, and SB 8, Death penalty aggravator, - both sitting in House Courts and Criminal Code Committee.


In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills, as well as detailed information about the legislative process and the Indiana General Assembly by clicking here.  You can also access the archived I-CAN Updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC website www.indianacc.org




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