IBLC on 2018 session at halftime: some success, but many disappointments

INDIANAPOLIS — At the halfway point of the 2018 session of the Indiana General Assembly, members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) expressed their concerns today that many of their top priorities—particularly involving bias crimes and public safety—were not addressed.

The IBLC has identified four top priorities for the session:

— Bias crimes (Senate Bill 271), authored by State Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis).
— Diabetes reporting (House Bill 1175), authored by State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis).
— Study of African-American homicide victims (House Bill 1176), authored by Summers.
— Seat belts on school buses (House Bill 1377), authored by State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis).

“Only one of these proposals, House Bill 1175, has moved forward this session,” noted State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis), IBLC chair. “We are pleased at this progress, because Rep. Summers’ diabetes legislation is designed to take steps to reduce the impact of this vile disease on so many Hoosiers.

“However, when it comes to other areas of concern for the IBLC, we are not seeing progress at all,” she continued. “There has been a lack of interest from the House and Senate leadership about these issues, which is disconcerting.”

Taylor said this is the sixth straight year that he has introduced bias crimes legislation in Indiana. With events in recent times in places like Charlottesville, Virginia, it becomes more embarrassing that Indiana is one of just five states that does not have hate crimes legislation on the books.

“I have made my feelings clear about my frustration at the complete lack of interest expressed by leaders in correcting this flaw,” Taylor said. “I simply do not know what it will take for us to remove this embarrassing mark from our record.”

Much like Taylor, Bartlett has been leading the fight to improve safety on school buses by requiring them to have seat belts.

“It seems that every few months, we hear another story about children who are injured or killed because they were not adequately protected by a seat belt,” Bartlett said. “I remain shocked that this simple plan to protect our babies continues to be ignored by those in control of state government. If a short session of the General Assembly is supposed to handle emergency items, what could be a greater emergency than saving the lives of young people?”

Summers’ proposal to seek a legislative study of African-American homicide victims reflects yet another area of concern raised by people across Indiana.

“Indiana has the second-highest African-American homicide rate in the country,” she said. “It is way past time for lawmakers to try to understand why this is happening. A study would consider the effects of this homicide rate on our African-American communities, and try to find solutions that can bring this carnage to an end.”

A similar study of the impact of diabetes among Hoosiers that was conducted last year at Summers’ request led to House Bill 1175, which calls for the establishment of work groups that will create plans to raise awareness of the disease. Such awareness would include the best practices for diabetes and pre-diabetes screening, treatment and prevention, and identification of the actions that need to be taken to reduce the impact of the disease.

“The need for this has been obvious for some time, and it has been good to see so many legislators recognize that action must be taken now, rather than later,” Summers concluded.

Pryor noted that IBLC members have had some successes in advancing proposals this session. Those include a requirement that lawmakers take sexual harassment prevention training (included by Pryor as an amendment to HB 1309), legislation authored by State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) that is designed to improve reporting of bullying in schools across Indiana (HB 1356), and a measure authored by State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) that asks lawmakers to study the growing number of pharmacy deserts in Indiana (HB 1382).

[PLEASE NOTE: A complete list of bills and amendments advanced by members of the IBLC is available below.]


IBLC Legislation Moving through the Session
*The State Senate allows for multiple authors on a bill.


Senate Bill (SB) 35 | Vigo County Food and Beverage Tax
Sens. Ford & Lonnie M. Randolph
Authorizes the county council of Vigo County to adopt a county food and beverage tax (tax). Provides that the tax rate may not exceed 1%. Specifies that the revenue from the tax shall be distributed to the capital improvement board and may be used by the board only for the acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance, or financing of the following: (1) A convention center. (2) A facility that is used or will be used principally for convention or tourism related events or the arts. (3) Wayfinding improvements. Requires the construction or improvements to be made after June 30, 2018. (4) To pay the principal and interest on bonds issued to finance one of these purposes. Specifies that the tax expires December 31, 2043.

SB 130 | Court Appointed Child Advocate Immunity
Sens. Bohacek & Jean Breaux
Provides immunity from civil liability for: (1) a guardian ad litem program; (2) a court appointed special advocate program; (3) an employee of or volunteer for a guardian ad litem program or court appointed special advocate program; and (4) an individual acting as a contracted guardian ad litem; when a child is placed on a waiting list for guardian ad litem or court appointed special advocate services.

SB 290 | Worker’s Compensation
Sens. Ford, Tallian, & Lonnie M. Randolph
Establishes a time frame for the payment of compensation under a settlement agreement, a permanent partial impairment agreement, and an award of compensation ordered by a single hearing member of the worker’s compensation board (board). Provides that an employer that fails to make a timely payment is subject to a civil penalty. Requires an employer that has mobile or remote employees to convey information about worker’s compensation coverage to the employer’s employees in an electronic format or in the same manner as the employer conveys other employment related information. Allows the electronic filing of certain documents with the board. Provides that a permanently, totally disabled worker must reapply to the second injury fund for a wage replacement benefit every three years instead of every 150 weeks. Requires the reporting of workplace injuries needing medical attention beyond first aid instead of injuries causing an absence from work for more than one day. Provides that reporting requirements for workplace injuries are intended to be consistent with the recording requirements set out in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulations. Changes from $50 per employee to $100 per day the civil penalty for an employer’s failure to provide proof of worker’s compensation coverage. Revises the definition of employer to include corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and other entities that have common control and ownership. Makes conforming amendments for occupational diseases compensation. Urges the legislative council to assign to an appropriate interim study committee the task of studying increases to the benefit schedules for worker’s compensation and occupational diseases compensation.

SB 347 | Bonding Procedures
Sens. Bassler & Greg Taylor
Permits the following political subdivisions to sell bonds at a negotiated sale after June 30, 2018, and before July 1, 2021: (1) A consolidated city. (2) A second class city. (3) A school corporation located in a consolidated city or a second class city. (Current law requires a public sale of bonds.) Provides that this change does not apply to some revenue bonds that are dedicated to a limited purpose. Makes technical corrections.

SB 381 | Children in Need of Services
Sens. Messmer, Bohack, & Jean Breaux
Provides that a child who is: (1) a victim of certain offenses; and (2) unlikely to receive necessary care, treatment, or rehabilitation without the intervention of the court; is a child in need of services. Provides that a child who: (1) lives in the same household as an adult who committed an offense against another child who lives in the household that resulted in a conviction or judgment; or (2) lives in the same household as an adult who has been charged with an offense against another child who lives in the household and is awaiting trial; and is unlikely to receive necessary care, treatment, or rehabilitation without the intervention of the court is a child in need of services.

House Bill (HB) 1175 | Diabetes Reporting
Rep. Vanessa Summers
Requires the state department of health (state department) to collaborate with the office of the secretary of family and social services and develop a strategic plan to identify and significantly reduce the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes. Requires the state department to establish workgroups to assist with development of the strategic plan. Requires the state department to submit the strategic plan to the governor and the general assembly and to update the strategic plan every two years until July 1, 2026. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the interim study committee on public health, behavioral health, and human services.)

HB 1318 | Construction/Demolition Site in Gary
Rep. Earl Harris Jr.
Provides that the prohibition against establishing a sanitary landfill within one-half mile of an area subdivided for residential purposes does not apply to the establishment of a construction/demolition site located within the corporate limits of a city that has a population of more than 80,000 and less than 80,400 and whose fiscal body and executive have filed a petition with the distressed unit appeal board seeking to have the city designated as a distressed political subdivision.

HB 1356 | Bullying
Rep. Gregory W. Porter
Provides that a school corporation is not required to report the number of incidents of bullying in the school corporation’s annual school performance report. Provides that information reported by a school corporation relating to the number of incidents of bullying that occur may not be used in calculation of a school’s annual school improvement grade. Provides that the department of education (department) must annually send notification via electronic mail or a letter to each school corporation explaining: (1) the school corporation’s obligation to submit a report to the department containing the number of bullying incidents involving a student; and (2) that the department may conduct an audit of the school corporation to ensure that bullying incidents are accurately reported. Provides that the department may conduct an audit of a school corporation to ensure that bullying incidents are accurately reported. Provides that the department must report discrepancies of an audit on the department’s Internet web site. Requires the department to conduct a statewide survey concerning the improvement of School Corporation reporting of incidents of bullying involving a student to the department. Requires, not later than November 1, 2018, the department to submit a report to the General Assembly.

HB 1382 | Study of Pharmacy Deserts
Rep. Charlie Brown
Defines “pharmacy desert”. Urges the legislative council to assign topics to a study committee concerning pharmacy deserts in rural and urban areas of Indiana.


IBLC Legislation that Received a Committee Hearing


HB 1077 | Youth Employment
Rep. Cherrish Pryor
Provides that an employment certificate is not required for a child who is at least 13 years of age and who is employed by or works for a church, religious society, or nonprofit program or ministry of a church or religious society, if: (1) the work the child performs is limited to office and clerical work, clean-up work, and grounds maintenance; (2) the child works with or is supervised by a person who is at least 18 years of age; and (3) the child has on file with the child’s employer an original or a copy of a written consent to the child’s employment signed by the child’s parent or guardian. Requires the child’s employer to conduct a fingerprint based criminal history background check of both national and state records data bases and a check of the national sex offender registry maintained by the United States Department of Justice for each prospective or current adult employee or volunteer who is or will be working with or supervising the child.

HB 1152 | Traffic Amnesty Program
Rep. Robin Shackleford
Establishes a temporary traffic amnesty program to permit certain persons owing unpaid traffic fines, or who may be required to pay a fee for reinstatement of driving privileges, to obtain a reduction in the amount owed or amount payable. Specifies that a person seeking a reduction in fees owed is not required to pay a court filing fee but is required to pay a $50 administrative fee. Provides that as part of the traffic amnesty program a person must: (1) pay the driving privileges reinstatement fee to the bureau of motor vehicles (bureau); (2) provide financial responsibility to the court; and (3) not be ineligible to have their driving privileges reinstated. Provides that the court must transmit a copy of its order to the bureau in a manner prescribed by the bureau.

HB 1380 | Tobacco Products Purchasing Age
Rep. Charlie Brown
Raises the age from 18 years of age to 21 years of age for prohibitions and crimes concerning the sale, purchase, and possession of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Makes a corresponding change to the laws concerning e-cigarettes, tobacco retailer permits, and admission to establishments where smoking is permitted.

HB 1379 | Campaign Violations
Rep. John Bartlett
Provides that a person or a political party that knowingly does either of the following commits a Class A misdemeanor: (1) Solicits or receives money or other property as a condition that the person, another person, or a political party support or slate a candidate. (2) Pays money or gives other property in exchange for the support or slating of a candidate by a person or a political party.

SB 364 | Income Tax Credit for K-12 Education Donations
Sens. Eddie Melton & Kruse
Provides a 50% income tax credit to donors who donate to a public school foundation. Sets forth standards that apply to taking the credit and to public school foundations that receive contributions. Limits the total credits that may be claimed during a state fiscal year using a three-year phase in period.


IBLC Amendments that Passed


SB 50 | Workforce Development | Amendment 5
Sen. Greg Taylor
Increases the Board for Technical Education to 15 members. Adding three members appointed by the Governor. One who is an owner of a minority business enterprise, one who is an owner of a women’s business enterprise, and one who is an owner of a veteran business enterprise.

HB 1230 | School Safety | Amendment 1
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
Requires SBOE and a school corporation to maintain a link on their Internet web sites providing parents and school officials with resources or best practices regarding the prevention or reporting of cyberbullying.

HB 1309 | Training for Elected Officials | Amendment 2
Rep. Cherrish Pryor
Requires 1 hour of sexual harassment training each year by members of General Assembly as determined by the presiding officer. Effective upon passage.

HB 1314 | Students Receiving Foster Care Services | Amendment 3
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
Requires annual report on foster care youth educational outcomes to include standardized assessment scores and, if appropriate, to include the percentage of students meeting academic standards. This information shall be desegregated by race, grade, gender, free or reduced lunch, and eligibility for special education.

HB 1314 | Students Receiving Foster Care Services | Amendment 4
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
Requires the annual report on foster care youth educational outcomes to determine whether foster care youth are disproportionately not meeting academic standards or being disciplined in school compared to the overall population. If foster care youth are disproportionately affected, include that information in the annual report and include policy recommendations and remediation plan.

HB 1398 | Coalition of School Corporations | Amendment 2
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
Changes language to allow coalition schools the option to suspend, instead of mandating the suspension of statutes concerning: curriculum, curricular materials, teacher licenses and performance based accreditation system.

HB 1399 | Elementary School Teacher Content Area Licenses | Amendment 2
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
Requires DOE to develop an incentive program to assist teachers who pursue a content area license and reward teachers who earn a content area license.

HB 1421 | School Discipline | Amendment 1
Rep. Vernon G. Smith
If a student is suspended, the principal shall offer materials or services to prevent the student from regressing. A principal may not suspend a student before the principal attempts to notify the student’s parent before the disciplinary separation. Deletes “exclusion” and inserts “disciplinary separation”.