The Indiana Legislature sets legislative priorities for the 2023 legislative session

INDIANAPOLES — The Indiana General Assembly reconvened Monday. As this is a budget year, there is legislation on the table on a wide range of issues. Both the Republicans and the Indiana Senate Democrats announced what they will be focusing on in the next four months.

Indian Senate Republicans have four priorities: fiscal responsibility, improving Indiana’s mental and public health infrastructure for Hoosiers, supporting law enforcement and ensuring public safety and protecting the privacy of Hoosiers.

They sent the following information to explain why these issues are their top priority.

fiscal responsibility

· Paving the way for transformative tax reform

Senate draft 3 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle)

WHAT: Form the State and Local Tax Review Commission to study the feasibility of ending Indiana’s income tax and reforming property taxes for Hoosiers

WHY: Indiana’s tax climate is consistently among the best in the nation. Senate Republicans want to take a holistic look at our tax structure to ensure we remain competitive in today’s economy.

· Plan Indiana’s fiscal future

Senate budget priority

WHAT: Continue to aggressively pay off the Pre-96 Teachers’ Retirement Fund, which has approximately $6 billion in outstanding debt

WHY: Statehouse Republicans have repaid that pension obligation by $4 billion in just the last few years. The sooner Indiana pays off this unfunded liability, the sooner $1 billion a year in the state budget will be freed up for transformative tax cuts and important public needs.

· $50 million small business tax cut

Senate draft 2 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville)

WHAT: Change state tax laws to allow LLCs and S Corps to deduct all state tax payments from federal tax returns, which could result in $50 million in federal tax savings for Hoosier corporations

WHY: This change would level the playing field for businesses — particularly corporations — when it comes to receiving a federal tax deduction and would be revenue neutral for Indiana.

Make Indiana’s mental and public health infrastructure work better for Hoosiers

· Build a better mental health system in Indiana

Senate bill 1 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Mike Crider (R-Greenfield)

WHAT: Provision of ongoing funds for the establishment of a system of certified behavioral clinics

WHY: Last year, the 9-8-8 National Suicide and Crisis Line went live, giving Hoosiers a place to go when they need mental health support. The next step in improving our mental health infrastructure is to ensure that every person has a place to go for treatment.

· Modernize Indiana’s state and local health departments

Senate draft 4 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso)

WHAT: Improving the quality of the services provided by Indiana’s local health departments and promoting collaboration between local health departments and the Indiana Department of Health

WHY: Focusing on preventing health problems rather than treating them will help improve the state’s poor health rankings and promote a healthy workforce.

Lower Healthcare Costs for Hoosiers

· Need transparency about the duty location

Senate bill 6 [iga.in.gov]written by Charbonneau

WHAT: Ensure insurance claims are paid according to the location where the service was provided

WHY: Ending practices that allow inaccurate billing could save Hoosiers millions a year in medical bills.

· Help reduce prescription drug costs

Senate bill 8 [iga.in.gov]written by Charbonneau

WHAT: Require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to pass on the discounts they receive for prescriptions to the patients who buy the medicines or to all plan members

WHY: It is common for PBMs to negotiate contracts with pharmaceutical companies so that a PBM can receive a rebate each time a person covered by their plan receives specific prescriptions. SB 8 would ensure that those savings go to the person or plan that purchased the drug.

· Promoting competition in healthcare

Senate bill 7 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne)

WHAT: End anti-competitive non-competition clauses and physician referral incentives

WHY: Enabling physicians to compete on their own terms will help encourage competition in the healthcare market and contribute to lower prices.

Supporting law enforcement, ensuring public safety

· Pay raise for the Indiana State Police

WHAT: Increased the Indiana State Police (ISP) salary and changed the salary matrix from 20 years (current schedule) to 15 years so they will see a significantly faster salary increase throughout their career

WHY: As the state’s premier law enforcement agency, ISP provides support to nearly every law enforcement agency statewide. However, a study conducted by the Indiana State Police Alliance found that state police officers are among the lowest paid law enforcement officers in Indiana. ISP soldiers are the crème de la crème and should be paid that way.

· Allowing dangerous suspects to be held without bail

Joint resolution of the Senate 1 [iga.in.gov]written by State Senator Eric Koch (R-Bedford)

WHAT: Amend the Indiana constitution to allow judges to refuse bail if a suspect clearly poses a significant risk to the public

WHY: At least 22 states and the federal government allow the most dangerous suspects to be held without bail, and Indiana judges should have that discretion to protect the public.

Protect Hoosiers privacy

· Restrict how companies collect and use personal information

Senate draft 5 [iga.in.gov]Written by State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne)

WHAT: Produces a Hoosier privacy bill of rights that would allow consumers to monitor how their data is being used and have it deleted if they so choose

WHY: More and more companies have access to our personal data, while data breaches and cybersecurity threats continue to rise. SB 5 updates consumer protection laws to defend against these threats.

Senate Democrats’ priorities mirrored those of Gov. Eric Holcomb, with the addition of some social issues. Her focus will be on families, future and freedoms.

You have sent the following information.

Familys

  • Invest in expanding access to childcare for families, which will help strengthen our workforce.
  • Create a paid vacation program so parents and families can take the time they need from work.
  • Lower health care costs for Hoosiers, who pay the seventh highest cost in the country.

futures

  • Invest in K-12 to cover school operating costs and pay rises for teachers and staff.
  • Abolition of school book fees to relieve parents.
  • Automatically enroll students in the 21st Century Scholars Program to advance their college degrees.

freedoms

  • Restore reproductive freedom to all Hoosier women by expanding access to abortion back to 20 weeks.
  • Decriminalize marijuana and push legislation to make it legally available.
  • Remove the ban on same-sex marriages from current Indiana law and protect all marriages in Indiana.
  • Amend the Indiana Constitution to allow Hoosiers to directly vote on ballot initiatives in the election.

One of the Republicans’ controversial priorities is their attempt to change the Indiana Constitution. The change will allow judges to refuse bail if a suspect clearly poses a significant risk to the public. The constitution requires bail in all cases except murder and treason.

“State statutes and the Code of Criminal Procedure state that judges can raise a suspect’s bail if they pose a risk to the public,” said State Senator Eric Koch, a Republican from Bedford. “But if they set bail too high, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that it may be considered an unconstitutional de facto denial of bail.”

If the proposal leaves the Statehouse, it would come to a vote in 2026. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor of Indianapolis (D-District 33) says such a change could negatively impact minority communities.

“As we’ve seen in the history of any type of public policy that has these types of subjective criteria, people who look like me seem to be on the bottom end of the scale,” Senator Taylor said.

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