2021 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Wrap-Up

May 4, 2021 | Blog, Domestic, Government Affairs, Legislative Affairs

The 2021 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly began on January 4, 2021.  State legislators introduced over 1,000 bills, 220 of which completed the legislative process and went to the Governor for his signature.  The following is a list of JCRC’s top legislative priorities. 

 

SEA148-2020 – HOUSING VETO OVERIDE   

JCRC Position: OPPOSE 

 

Senate Enrolled Act 148 was passed during the 2020 legislative session in response to an Indianapolis City-County Council ordinance that created some basic regulations for landlords and the landlord/tenant relationship in Marion County. SEA 148 undid many of those new regulations which included slowing down expedited three-day evictions, a requirement for property condition disclosures, and anti-retaliation measures.  Governor Holcomb vetoed SEA148 in March 2020.  The General Assembly successfully overrode that veto this 2021 session. JCRC worked on this veto override with several coalitions including the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and the Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance These coalitions worked very hard to address both the needs of tenants and landlords.   

 

HB 1001 – BUDGET   
Author: T. Brown (R-Crawfordsville) 
Sponsor: Mischler (R-Bremen 
JCRC Position: MONITOR 
Bill Status: PASSED   

With better than projected state tax revenues and an influx of state and local aid provided by recently passed congressional covid relief bills, the Indiana General Assembly passed a $37 billion budget.  The budget bill passed overwhelmingly with the first bipartisan vote since 2009.   

Budget Highlights Include:  

  • $16 billion in total funding for public K-12 education  
  • 4.6% increase in the 1st year, and a 4.3% increase in the 2nd 
  • $600 million directed towards boosting teacher compensation with language directing school districts to submit explanations to the state if they are not able to set a minimum teacher salary of $40,000/year 
  • A potential 50% increase in funding for the School Choice Scholarship Program to $264 million/year 
  • Complete funding for the CHOICE in home health care program 
  • The original budget bill included CHOICE cuts of $5 million/year for a total of $10 million, which would have substantially increased waitlists for the program  
  • Increase in support for the state food bank association from $300,000 per year to $1 million/year  
  • $250 million for broadband internet expansion grants  
  • $160 million for water infrastructure grants   

 

HB 1006 – LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS  
Author(s) – Steuerwald (R-Danville), McNamara (R-Evansville), Shackleford (D-Indianapolis)  
Sponsor(s) – Young (R-Indianapolis), Glick (R-LaGrange), Taylor (D-Indianapolis)  
JCRC Position: SUPPORT 
Bill Status: PASSED   

House Bill 1006 will make critical changes to policing in Indiana, including de-escalation training for officers, a procedure to decertify an officer who commits misconduct, the prohibition of chokeholds under specific circumstances and penalties for officers who turn off their body-worn camera. The bill was a priority of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and received broad bi-partisan support.  

 

HB 1202 – SENTENCING
Author(s): McNamara (R-Evansville); Hatfield (D-Evansville)  
Sponsors(s): Bohacek (R-Michigan City); Tallian (D-Portage) 
JCRC Position: SUPPORT 
Bill Status: DIED (Passed by House & Senate; failed to agree on compromise language in Conference Cmte)  

House Bill 1202 would have applied current sentencing guidelines that were passed into law in criminal justice legislation approved by the General Assembly in 2014.  Currently, non-violent offenders sentenced prior to July 1, 2014 are serving longer sentences than their counterparts sentenced after that date.  The bill received broad bipartisan support but disagreements between the House, Senate, and Indiana Prosecutors Association could not be worked out in conference and the bill died.      

 

HB 1369 – FIREARMS MATTERS   
Author(s)Smaltz (R-Auburn), Lehman (R-Berne) 
Sponsor(s): Houchin (R-Salem); Messmer (R-Jasper 
JCRC Position: MONITOR 
Bill Status: DIED (Passed House; never heard in Senate Committee)  

House Bill 1369 would have eliminated Indiana’s requirement for handgun owners to apply for and hold a conceal carry permit to carry that firearm on their person.  The bill also removed the conceal carry permit fees.  While HB 1369 did not pass, the elimination of permit fees was included in the budget.   

 

SB 141 – TRANSIT  
Author(s): Freeman (R-Indianapolis), Young (R-Indianapolis)  
Sponsor(s): Behning (R-Indianapolis), Speedy (R-Indianapolis) 
JCRC Position: OPPOSE  
Bill Status: DIED (Passed Senate; never heard in House Committee)  

Throughout the 2021 session, we saw many bills put forth targeting the Indianapolis community. Fortunately, Senate Bill (SB) 141, a bill intended to implode Indianapolis’ public transportation system by making IndyGo meet impossible and unprecedented fundraising goals, died in the House. This bill would have risked $200 million in federal funding and prevented development of the Blue and Purple lines. Many essential workers rely on public transportation and this bill would have been a disservice to all of those who serve Indianapolis. Other efforts to move the language in SB 141 into other bills also, thankfully, failed. 

  

SB 168 – INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT  
Author(s): Sandlin (R-Indianapolis), Baldwin (R-Noblesville)  
Sponsor(s): None  
JCRC Position: OPPOSE  
Bill Status: DIED (Amended and passed by Senate Committee, but not passed by full Senate)  

Senate Bill 168 would have eliminated existing civilian oversight structures for IMPD and place full department administration in the hands of a five-member state board with four members appointed by the Governor. The bill was amended in the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee to send the issue to an interim study committee.  The bill passed the Senate but was not acted on in the House.   

 

SB 394 – POLICE DEPARTMENT ADMINISTRATION   
Author(s): Freeman (R-Indianapolis), Sandlin (R-Indianapolis)  
Sponsor(s): None 
JCRC Position: OPPOSE 
Bill Status: DIED (failed to pass Senate Committee)  

Senate Bill 394 would have given the chief of a city police department, or a town board of metropolitan police commissioners, sole authority to make general orders or establish the department’s procedures and policies, including around the use of force.  The bill was a direct response to the IMPD General Orders Board created in late 2020 by the Indianapolis City Council.  The bill was amended in committee to send the issue to an interim study committee, but because of the authors objection to that amendment the bill was voted down in committee.   

 

SB 311 – USE OF FORCE & SELF-DEFENSE  
Author(s): Baldwin (R-Noblesville); Koch (R-Bedford); Randolph (D-East Chicago)  
Sponsor(s): Bartels (R- Eckerty 
JCRC Position: OPPOSE as drafted; MONITOR as amended 
Bill Status: DIED (Passed Senate; never heard in House Committee)  

Senate Bill 311 would have allowed police officers to use force options (such as chokeholds) that are not in their department’s use of force policy and disregard any use of force policies set in certain situations.  The bill would have provided law enforcement officers a blanket affirmative defense if they used force outside of their department’s policies.  The bill was substantially amended in committee to simply re-codify a law enforcement officers right to self-defense.  The bill passe the Senate but was not acted on in the House.  

 

SB 368 – JUVENILE JUSTICE  
Author(s): Tallian (D-Portage)Glick (R-Lagrange) 
Sponsor(s): McNamara (R-Evansville) 
JCRC Position: SUPPORT  
Bill Status: PASSED  

Senate Bill 368 expunges certain juvenile offenses, prohibits children from being housed with adults in most situations and sets up a procedure to determine juvenile competency. These are important steps in ensuring that children are protected in our juvenile justice system and are offered a second chance. Additionally, this bill complies with the standards set in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 and keeps Indiana eligible for federal dollars.