As the 2014 Session ends, bills are slowly making their way to the Governor for consideration. The Legislature passed 224 bills this session, of which only 29 have been signed (as of Tuesday).
Although the legislative session ended one day earlier than required by statute, it was not as early as was optimistically predicted. Additionally, the Governor's action on bills is proceeding exceptionally slowly this year. The leadership signatures required prior to submission for his allowed week of consideration has been taking longer than is usual.
After much discussion, a compromise was reached the final day on some key issues on the Governor's agenda: First, a 3,000 student pilot pre-school program for those under 127% of the Federal Poverty level was authorized. Also, mass transit using only busses will be permitted in six Central Indiana Counties, on the conditions that voters authorize participation in a referendum and that "voluntary" corporate contributions reach 10% of the costs to that participating county. Locally optional methods for cutting business personal property taxes were provided to counties, while a "special" study committee has been charged with examining the state's business tax structure. Finally, immediate authorization was given for $200-million in highway project funding, with another $200-million by Jan 2015 if the Budget Committee sees improvement in the revenue stream.
Bills that died the final day included a moratorium on new nursing home beds, drug testing for state assistance recipients, and a "pause" in involuntary annexation. A provision changing some charity gaming statutes, once part ofHEA 1235, was removed when some legislators claimed it was an expansion of gambling.
The legislature set June 17th as Technical Correction/veto override day in the event it's needed.
The conference committee process amends language from bills that were only passed in their house of origin into bills that remain "in play." This is generally done in the House, due to differing Senate rules on the practice. Last minute discussions in Conference Committees led to changes and additions to a number of bills.
The sunset dates for a lengthy list of tax credits (including the Neighborhood Assistance Program credit) and incentives that once appeared in numerous bills were removed. Instead, the conference committee report for HEA 1020passed without opposition and provides for the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy to "review, analyze, and evaluate" whether those credits/incentives continue to serve the purpose for which they were created.
HEA 1358 passed with multiple provisions-the bill requires that a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder at any age be reported to the Birth Problems Registry; directs the Department of Health to adopt rules for the regulation of facilities that treat persons with traumatic brain injuries; directs that not more that 50% of the funds in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Fund can be used to develop a statewide trauma system; and extends the Office of Minority Health until 2017.
A 3-year Community Living Pilot Program is created by HEA 1391. The pilot is for persons over 60 or disabled individuals who meet income and asset criteria and who are at risk of losing their independence. The project is managed by the CHOICE Board, administered by the Division of Aging, and will be implemented by four Area Agencies on Aging. The conference committee report added provisions directing FSSA to report before Dec. 2016 on any Risk-Based Managed care program that includes Medicaid recipients who are eligible for Medicaid based on being aged, blind, or disabled. The conference committee also added provisions directing FSSA, Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health to study various factors relating to long term care services and service recipients. The report, established as an alternative to provisions establishing a moratorium on long term care beds, is due Oct. 31, 2015.
In a legislative environment where seemingly increasing numbers of topics are assigned to Interim Legislative Study committees, legislative leaders authored/sponsored SEA 80. This bill repeals roughly 50 existing committees (including the DD and Autism Commissions) and replaces them with 17 broad topic Interim Committees to which Legislative Council can assign those topics earmarked for study by legislation. Lay members may be appointed to the committees at the discretion of the Legislative Council.
Central Indiana Rapid Transit may result from provisions in SEA 176. It allows the county fiscal bodies in six Central Indiana Counties (Marion and surrounding counties with the exception of Hendricks and Morgan, plus Delaware) to authorize a public question asking whether local voters favor using local option income tax funds for transit. It excludes light rail as an option, and requires at least 10% of a county's transit operating costs come from voluntary corporate contributions.
A number of other bills INARF was watching were enacted, and are awaiting the Governor's signature, including:
SEA 59-authorizes a guardian or a volunteer advocate to seek permission from a court to file a petition for dissolution of marriage for an incapacitated person.
SEA 139-expands "attendant care services" to include providing assistance with taking medications, including controlled substances.
SEA 180-directs the Department of Health and the Office of Veterans' Affairs to study and make recommendations by 9-1-14, concerning the implementation of a program to treat veterans with traumatic brain injury or PTSD.
SEA 248-requires FSSA to study issues surrounding psychiatric crisis intervention services and to report by 9-1-15.
SEA 297-requires FSSA to reimburse for a specialized or non-standard wheelchair for a child Medicaid recipient who lives in a nursing facility.
SEA 406-amends the Medicaid False Claims act to conform to federal law and designates FSSA as the single state agency responsible for the Medicaid program.
SEA 421-amends multiple licensing laws and requires the Professional Licensing Agency to report by 10-1-14 on a process for maintaining a registry of an individual's qualifications in occupations not otherwise required to be licensed, registered, or certified.
HEA 1045-amends the scope of practice for an Occupational Therapist to include "swallow tests" upon demonstrating competency.
HEA 1061-allows dental hygienist to practice under indirect supervision in a clinical setting or a health facility.
HEA 1380-contains multiple tax matters and requires FSSA to study and report on the benefits provided to individuals whose income does not exceed 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.