2016 IFCL Legislative Summary

Session Summary

IFCL was able to come together in unity, to focus on four particular areas of advocacy in 2016. While the group committed to thoughtful discernment in all areas that come before our legislature, we felt led to focus on the areas of Education, Earthcare, Criminal Justice and Redistricting Reform. Below please find the final 2016 legislative summary.

Education

SB 200-Measuring school and school corporation performance. Provides that a school’s or school corporation’s category or designation of performance for the 2014-2015 school year may not be lower than the grade assigned to the school or school corporation by the state board of education for the 2013-2014 school year. Provides that for purposes of determining whether a choice scholarship school has become newly eligible for consequences based on the school’s category or designation of performance, the department of education may not apply the consequences unless the school is placed in the lowest category or designation for the 2014-2015 school year. IFCL Supported legislation. (Signed by Governor Pence)

HB 1003- Teacher evaluations. Provides that, for a state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2016, the amount that a school corporation may receive as part of a performance grant relating to test results shall be calculated using the higher of: (1) the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2013-2014 school year; or (2) the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2014-2015 school year. Specifies that if a school’s performance grant is calculated using the percentage of passing ISTEP scores from the 2013-2014 school Teacher evaluations. Provides that, for a state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2016, the amount that a school corporation may receive as part of a performance grant relating to test results shall be calculated using the higher of: (1) the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2013-2014 school year; or (2) the percentage of passing scores on ISTEP program tests for the school for the 2014-2015 school year. Specifies that if a school’s performance grant is calculated using the percentage of passing ISTEP scores from the 2013-2014 school year, the grant amount may not exceed (with certain exceptions) the grant amount that the school received for the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015. Provides that the school corporation shall distribute all stipends from a performance grant to individual teachers within 20 business days of the date the department distributes the performance grant to the school corporation. Provides that ISTEP program test scores or a school’s category or designation of school improvement for the 2014-2015 school year may not be used by a school corporation as part of an annual performance evaluation of a particular certificated employee unless the use of the ISTEP program test scores or a school’s category or designation of school improvement would improve the particular teacher’s annual performance rating. IFCL supported legislation. (Signed by Governor Pence)

Earthcare

HB 1082-Environmental rules and standards. Prohibits the environmental rules board (board) from adopting a rule or standard that is more stringent than the corresponding regulation or standard established under federal law. Makes corresponding changes in the law concerning the adoption of environmental rules. Allows the board to adopt a rule or standard if: (1) a corresponding regulation or standard established under federal law does not exist; and (2) the rule or standard is adopted under appropriate general or specific statutory authority granted to the board. Prohibits the department of environmental management (department) from enforcing a state rule or standard adopted or Environmental rules and standards. Prohibits the environmental rules board (board) from adopting a rule or standard that is more stringent than the corresponding regulation or standard established under federal law. Makes corresponding changes in the law concerning the adoption of environmental rules. Allows the board to adopt a rule or standard if: (1) a corresponding regulation or standard established under federal law does not exist; and (2) the rule or standard is adopted under appropriate general or specific statutory authority granted to the board. Prohibits the department of environmental management (department) from enforcing a state rule or standard adopted or established after July 1, 2016, that is more stringent than a corresponding regulation or standard established under federal law unless specific statutory authority is granted to the department to enforce the more stringent rule or standard. Ties the hands of lawmakers to address Indiana environmental issues. IDEM must report any rule proposed or adopted to IGA. IFCL opposed legislation (Vetoed by Governor Pence)

HB 1377Competitive procurement. Requires an electric utility that applies for certain certificates of public convenience and necessity to solicit competitive bids from alternative suppliers. Specifies the costs that the utility may recover through a periodic rate adjustment mechanism. IFCL supported legislation (Did not receive vote in committee.)

SB 366- Allows county commissioners by a simple vote to eliminate a communities Solid Waste Management District(SWMD). IFCL opposed legislation (Signed by Governor Pence).

Criminal Justice

SB 137- Statute of limitations on rape. Eliminates the statute of limitations for rape. IFCL supported legislation (Did not receive a hearing).

SB 267- Employers and expungement. Specifies that the prohibition against questioning a person applying for: (1) employment; (2) a license; or (3) another right or privilege; concerning an expunged arrest or conviction also applies during an interview. Provides that a person who unlawfully questions an applicant about an expunged criminal record commits a Class C infraction, and increases the penalty to a Class B infraction for a subsequent violation. Limits the number of violations that may be charged to: (1) one violation against a person without a prior adjudication; and (2) not more than one violation per month against a person with Employers and expungement. Specifies that the prohibition against questioning a person applying for: (1) employment; (2) a license; or (3) another right or privilege; concerning an expunged arrest or conviction also applies during an interview. Provides that a person who unlawfully questions an applicant about an expunged criminal record commits a Class C infraction, and increases the penalty to a Class B infraction for a subsequent violation. Limits the number of violations that may be charged to: (1) one violation against a person without a prior adjudication; and (2) not more than one violation per month against a person with one or more prior adjudications; regardless of the number of individual violations the person may have committed. Requires the BMV to expunge certain records of a person who was: (1) arrested but not convicted; (2) charged but not convicted; or (3) convicted if the conviction was overturned. IFCL supported legislation (Passed Senate, no hearing in House.)

Redistricting Reform

During the 2015 legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1003 which created a study committee comprised of both legislators and citizens. The committee was given 18 months to study and report back findings. IFCL is actively monitoring this issue and hopes that 2017 will be the year for action in the legislature.


Annual Report

“What’s good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice versa.”

Charles Wilson (1890-1961), U.S. industrialist, Secretary of Defense.

That quote from Wilson is from 1953 when he was head of General Motors, wonder what he would think now as GM teeters on the brink of bankruptcy… never mind I forgot… we are at war.

The pro-business slant to the Indiana Legislature is complete. It began with Senate Bill 1 which is meant to entice motor sports companies to Indiana though tax incentives and increased tax credits for venture capitalists to $12,500.000 a year. (Individual taxpayers will make up the difference… and we are loosing population according to the US Census; 1990 total 6,237,569 vs 2000 total 6,195,643 which means each one of us will pay more.) It ends with the budget; House Bill 1001 which allows any surplus to go to IEDC the Indiana Economic Development Corporation which was reconstituted in House Bill 1003.

Look at IEDC’s makeup from HB 1003:

  • Provides that the Governor is the Chairperson of the IEDC board.
  • Reduces the membership of the IEDC board from 23 to 12 members.
  • Specifies that when making appointments to the IEDC board, the Governor shall appoint at least five members belonging to the same political party as the Governor and at least three members who belong to a major political party other than the party of which the Governor is a member.
  • Abolishes the Department of Commerce, the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund Board, the Steel Industry Advisory Commission, the Enterprise Zone Board, the Small Business Development Corporation, the Film Commission, the Business Modernization and Technology Corporation, the Indiana Economic Development Council, and the EDGE Board.
  • Transfers the duties and powers of these entities to the IEDC.
  • Eliminates the Strategic Development Program and Fund, the Growth Investment Program (GRIP), and the Local Labor Management Grant Program and Fund.
  • Abolishes the offic of tourism and community development and the office of energy policy, which were to take over certain duties of the Department of Commerce on July 1, 2005.
  • Establishes the Indiana promotion fund. Provides that the fund consists of all private funding and donations received by the IEDC.
  • Authorizes the IEDC to establish a nonprofit subsidiary to solicit and accept private sector funding.

That is where the action is, and why your taxes will go up in the future. If corporations do not pay taxes, individuals will make up the difference. There is a consolidation of power in IEDC and both Democrats and Republicans believe is the way to bring prosperity to Indiana. In essence it is a private company to help business, with tax dollars and dollars donated (tax free) and the power to rebate and refund state taxes to corporations.

This was the general theme of the Legislature; reducing or rebating business tax, and (by default) increasing the future burden of taxes paid by individuals.

A look at HB 598:

  • Requires the department of education to obtain federal funding for charter schools.
  • In addition to requiring the Department of Education to obtain federal funding for charter schools this bill allows charter schools to use funds that have been lent to traditional public schools.
  • Allows the common school fund interest balance to be used for charter school facility financing.

Under current law the Common School Fund is used for loans to school corporations, aid to school corporations in cases of disaster and advances to school corporations for tuition transfer costs. Only in the case of disaster is the money not a loan from the Common School Fund.

Under this new bill the Department of Education would be required to use this interest, (which in 2004 was $16.9 Million Dollars), to provide matching funds for federal dollars for charter schools. This is not a loan to charter schools, but funding for charter schools.

The point here is the trend. Our property tax dollars to a large extent go to fund public schools. The Common School Fund makes loans to school corporations. The school corporations sell bonds to raise money to pay the loans back. The interest from these loans used to be used to fund other loans to school corporations. Now the interest will be used to fund charter schools. It is just one more way that funding for standard public schools is cut.

By the way, at the end of each fiscal year the interest in the Common School Fund reverts to the state General Fund. That means in fiscal year 2004 $16.9 million dollars of this school fund was given to the general fund and not used for education.

The state legislature seems to have a full court press on reducing the funding, and loans from th Common School Fund to traditional public schools and finding creative ways to fund charter schools.

The money behind the Charter School Movement:

Let me introduce you to some of the money behind the Charter School Movement in Indiana and the country. Nobel Laureate Dr. Milton Friedman and his wife, Dr. Rose D. Friedman, established the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Friedman Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation promoting public understanding of educational choice as a means to K-12 school reform.

Visit their website: http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/index.html

The first thing you should notice in the center of the site is the ‘latest news’ section: ‘MODEL LEGISLATION: Ideal School Choice Bills for Legislators.’ This is just one of the deep pocket interest groups that ‘help’ our legislators write bills that spend our money.

On a positive note:

One plus to this legislative session is that the expansion of the gambling industry was held in check.

Summary:

The report this year has focused mainly on two trends that are important to Indiana Friends:

First; the legislators in this state judging by the bills passed are in the business of supporting business. They work to reduce, rebate, abate or refund taxes for corporations which has the effect of increasing individual taxes. IDEC is a dream come true for business, watch your taxes next year! I know this trend is not a surprise.

Second; when given the chance to be creative and seek solution and compromise, as in the funding of our public schools, they do not show legislative concern for the least among us. Many of us are proud to pay our property taxes to support public education. Public education is the one opportunity we can offer everyone in an equitable way. We need to work with our legislators to make this happen. Charter schools are not public schools as they are in no way available for the least among us.

Very special thanks to Representative Bill Crawford and staff for their edification and clarification.

Tony Hinrichs, IFCL Lobbyist 05.13.05

Your support is crucial!

IFCL can work with legislators in Indiana only with your help, guidance and support. Do you feel the legislature is representing your interest, spending your tax dollars the way it should? Only you can make a difference by participating in IFCL. Either we work together to solve problems that we believe in, or we allow the interest groups speak for us.

The goal of the IFCL has been to be a highly respected, non-partisan research group known for its integrity, consistency and tenacity for truth. Our purposes are many. We seek to provide information to Friends about bills before the Indiana Legislature, often without comment to allow individual Friends to speak their convictions. At other times, Friends testimonies may compel us to speak truth to power. We will provide credible materials and be willing to stand up for truth even when unpopular.

Recent Newspaper Articles


Betting on slot machines at racetracks? Better luck next year

May 1, 2005 Indianapolis Star


Daniels gets job done without playing games

May 4, 2005 Indianapolis Star ANDREA NEAL


STATEHOUSE SCORECARD Daniels sees ‘great start’

May 1, 2005 Indianapolis Star By Mary Beth Schneider


And the winners are…

Indianapolis Star Opinion May 1, 2005

05.05.05

“Gov. Mitch Daniels and business lobbyists grinned about the economic legislation that had passed.”

Perhaps that quote says it all. The General Assembly was able to push forward an agenda that is perhaps a statement of things to come. Pro-business is the least provocative way to express the achievement.

Indiana’s legislature has been pro-business for quite some time, but perhaps we have entered an age of super pro-business. The individual taxpayer will continue footing more and more of the tax bill in Indiana as the business sector is abated and credited for more and more.

We are back to defining education as subsidy of minimum wage jobs for the training of ‘essential’ careers such as janitors and housekeepers as we did in the late 1980’s for the motel industry.

Supporting private industry jobs through tax abatement is, as we all know, more educational and important than supporting our public schools.

It goes back to the old question; how do you get the mule’s to do your bidding? In this legislature just start with a ‘moral’ issue like legal rights for non traditional couples and then when that ‘two by four’ has the mule’s attention you proceed with your agenda. If the mule should begin to revive you hit it with ‘Voter ID,’ and the distraction from that impact allows passage of all but the most egregious bills, and those will be first on the agenda next session. Somehow SBC was denied the right to charge as they see fit for services, one of the few defeats of business this session.

It would seem to me that the job of government is to provide the services and infrastructure that individuals and private business will not, under normal circumstances, provide. The General Assembly this year shows that my idea is not only wrong headed, but anti-free enterprise, and anti-Hoosier.

I have come to understand the role of government is to complete the shift of the tax burden from any corporate structure in the state to the individual taxpayer.

When the General Assembly passed the original restaurant tax for the Colts Dome an upstart US Congresswoman called it the Big Mac Tax. She showed the tax to be regressive and shouldered disproportionately by lower income constituents over business persons who are allowed tax deductions for their meals. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause, this time we will get the stadium and convention center with no such unseemly talk.

Monday at 5:30 AM I watched as a crew of young Amish workers, none twenty years old, ate breakfast at McDonalds, then went off to work. They did not know that their breakfast would soon help build the new convention center and stadium. I doubt they knew that State Representative John Day’s bill to increase their wage was defeated either, we all know now that any increase in wages would be bad for business … and so it goes.

Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation
1723 Ramsey Lane Plainfield, IN 46168

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