The biennial budget, HB 1001, will be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee on Thursday (1:30 pm in Room 431), after having passed the House, 69-29 earlier this week. Sen. Luke Kenley and his committee will spend the next few weeks crafting the Senate’s version. Sen. Kenley has already indicated that some dozen bills that had been recommitted to his committee after passing from other Senate Committees would be dealt with in the budget, when it reached the Senate. Sen. Ron Groom’s SB 504, which would have directed DDRS to establish a pilot program for persons dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a mental health condition, is believed to be part of that group to which Sen. Kenley referred.
The state’s January General Fund collections missed the December 2014 estimates by $63.5-million. That’s a 4.4% drop and the largest in this fiscal year. In addition to missing the December estimates, January’s collections missed the April 2013 forecast, the basis of the current budget, by $110-million or 7.5%.
But the “good news” in the January numbers is that for the ninth consecutive month General Fund collections have been above the level of the same month last year though below projected collections.
Governor Pence has cited these data in urging legislators to proceed cautiously in crafting the 2015-17 budget.
While gaming, Sunday alcohol sales, common construction wage, soccer stadiums, and multiple K-12 education issues were the headline-grabbers again this week, hundreds of other bills have passed their original house and will be ready for committee consideration in the “other” house when legislators return from their mid-session break on Monday.
Three large tax bills that once dealt in some fashion with the repeal or potential repeal of the Neighborhood Assistance Program Credit ( Sen. Hershman’s SB441, Rep. Huston’s HB 1349, and Rep. Koch’s HB 1142) now make no changes to the NAP credit. Rep. Koch’s bill does establish a mechanism for annual review of numerous exemptions, deductions, and credits.
Sen. Pat Miller’s efforts to establish a moratorium on new nursing home beds are contained in SB 460, which has Reps. Tim Brown and Charlie Brown as House Sponsors. It has not yet been assigned to a House Committee.
The AARP initiative to establish a program for “lay caregivers” for hospital patients passed the House 92-1 and Sen. Pat Miller will be the Senate Sponsor of Rep. Dennis Zent’s HB 1265.
Rep. Ed Clere’s HB 1613 shifts authority over personnel, rule adoption, and contract issuance to the FSSA Secretary from those division directors who currently have that authority. It passed the House, 95-0, and Sen. Pat Miller was named Senate Sponsor.
Bills that would have established a DD Provider tax credit, established an Autism Subcommittee of the Interim Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services committee, appropriated $60-million per biennium for public mass transit, and provided various forms of assistance to those with hearing loss failed at some point in the first house process.
Committee action on those bills that remain alive in the process will begin March 2nd and pick up the pace through March as all eyes begin to focus on the April 29th adjournment deadline.
The full text of these and other bills that INARF is watching can be found at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/.