INDIANAPOLIS—Committee action on legislation is now in full swing as legislators are working together and fine-tuning their initiatives in efforts to advance them through the committee process. The hectic pace will continue as crucial deadlines approach at the end of February. The following brief synopsis highlights recent action taken by the Senate.
The Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs advanced Senate Bill (SB) 529, a bill which provides that the Indiana Office of Energy Development consolidate and administer the state’s energy programs, including the Office of Alternative Energy Incentives, home energy assistance and weatherization programs, the Indiana Recycling Market Development Board, the Green Industries Fund, the E85 Fueling Station Grant Program and the Center for Coal Technology Research. In addition, the legislation would transfer the powers and duties relating to the state’s energy and energy development policies from the Lieutenant Governor to the Governor. The bill now advances to the full Senate for further consideration.
The Senate Education and Career Development Committee recently received testimony on several bills pertaining to higher education. SB 177 provides that qualified veterans are eligible for the resident tuition rate for undergraduate courses upon enrolling in a state university not later than 12 months after discharge or separation from the U.S. armed forces. If enacted, Indiana would join 13 other states that have already enacted this legislation. SB 180 requires each state university to provide the Commission for Higher Education with information concerning grading practices for courses required to fill general education requirements as well as information concerning faculty organizational structure. SB 402 establishes the Principal Leadership Academy within Indiana State University to strengthen leadership and management skills of practicing Indiana public school principals. SB 406 provides that postsecondary enrollment opportunities for high school students include concurrent enrollment courses, dual credit courses, and early college programs that allow high school students to receive college credit for successfully completing courses. The committee is expected to take further action on these initiatives in the next few weeks.
Health and Provider Services
The Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services unanimously approved SB 554, a bill that requires the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning to reimburse specified providers for telehealth services under the Medicaid program. Telehealth technologies would increase access to services in underserved and rural areas, increase treatment compliance and monitoring for patients with chronic conditions, as well as offer the potential to reduce transportation expenses. Co-authored by Breaux, the bill requires Medicaid to reimburse licensed home health agencies, rural health clinics, and federally qualified health centers for the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessment, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, supervision, and information across a distance. SB 554 must now be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee due to its fiscal impact.
Several bills that would expand sales for microbreweries have cleared the Senate. SB 100 allows a small brewer to sell the brewer's beer to consumers for carryout at farmers’ markets. The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 41-8. SB 401 allows a microbrewery, with approval of the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to participate in a trade show or exposition for not more than 45 days in a calendar year. SB 401 was also approved by a vote of 41-8. The bills now move to the House for its review.
Other bills advanced by the Senate
The following list includes a few of the bills that have gained Senate approval and now proceed to the House of Representatives for its consideration:
SB 120, approved by a vote of 36-13, requires each school corporation and accredited nonpublic elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum.
SB 387 increases from $50 to $100 the minimum fine imposed on non-disabled motorists who illegally park in a handicapped spot reserved for persons with a physical disability or a disabled veteran. The Senate voted 45-4 in favor of this measure.
The Senate unanimously approved SB 465, which establishes an Indiana Works Council in various regions of the state to assess local technical and vocational job opportunities available to high school graduates. Each council would assess career and educational needs within its region, and be responsible for submitting, before November 1, 2013, a comprehensive evaluation of the career, technical and vocational education opportunities available to high school students, particularly in areas that do not require a 4-year college degree. The councils would then develop, subject to the approval of the Indiana State Board of Education, an alternative career, technical, or vocational educational curriculum for high school students in each region. The curriculum must offer students opportunities to pursue internships and apprenticeships, learn from qualified instructors, and have a goal of earning an industry certification, earning credits toward an associate degree, or establishing a career pathway to a high-wage, high-demand job available in each region. SB 465 now moves to the House for its consideration.
February 21 Deadline for committee reports
February 26 Deadline for the Senate to consider Senate bills
March 4 Senate begins consideration of House bills
For information about bills being considered by the General Assembly, log on to www.in.gov/legislative. From this site, you can also watch the House and Senate in session as well as committee hearings.
Stay informed about bills and resolutions scheduled for action in both the House and Senate with BillWatch. This free online program, available at www.BillWatch.in.gov, allows you to track up to 10 bills and receive e-mail notifications only when action is taken on those bills.
Senate Democrats offer up-to-date information at www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov. Multimedia updates on the Senate’s daily activities are provided at The Briefing Room and Twitter at @INSenDems.
Visit the senator’s web site at www.in.gov/s34 and subscribe to receive periodic e-mails about action taken on major issues. Check out the senator’s Facebook profile at www.facebook.com/senatorjeanbreaux .
Personal contact with constituents has a direct impact on legislation considered and what ultimately becomes law. Use the contact information below to express your comments and concerns regarding pending legislation:
Mailing address: Statehouse, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Telephone: Call direct: 317-232-9534 or call toll-free: 800-382-9467, ext. 2-9534
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO THE EDITOR: A photo of Sen. Jean Breaux can be downloaded at: