Bills that failed in Senate, House
Tasty breaded pork tenderloin explains Indiana legislative process
Let’s face it — the legislative process is complex, and a bill can die at any point in the process. But a state food staple explains the basic steps of how Indiana laws are made. Pay attention.
Stephen J. Beard, Indianapolis Star
Lawmakers wrapped up the 2022 legislative session last week, leaving hundreds of bills dead for the year.
Here are some of the bills that didn’t make it this legislative session.
At least four abortion-related bills were filed this legislative session, including House Bill 1282 from Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, which would have banned abortions, and Senate Bill 309 from Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, which would have required the General Assembly to meet to consider legislation if the Supreme Court rules on abortion-related matters in other states in a way that would allow Indiana lawmakers to further restrict abortions.
Neither of those bills ever received a committee hearing or vote.
The majority of Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb asking him to call a taxpayer-funded special legislative session if parts of Roe v. Wade are overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gender-affirming care for minors
At least half a dozen bills were filed at the start of the 2022 legislative session that would impact transgender Hoosiers, but most never made it out of committee.
Among those that died was Senate Bill 34 from Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, which would have banned gender affirming surgeries and other care on minors, regardless of if their parent approved.
A bill to curb where adult businesses can set up shop didn’t make it out of committee this year despite bipartisan support, but its author says he hopes to bring it back next year.
The bill from Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, would have strengthened the state’s regulation of sexually oriented businesses, forbidding them from opening within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and businesses that primarily cater to children.
It was in direct response to issues in Indianapolis, where Hustler Hollywood and the Lion’s Den were able to open next to children entertainment businesses on the north and south side, respectively.
Speedy was initially going to try to place the language into another bill toward the end of the session but was unable to do so. He told the IndyStar he will bring the legislation back next year.
Business equipment tax cuts
At the start of the legislative session, House Republicans introduced a massive tax cut package that included cuts to business equipment and machinery taxes, supported by Holcomb.
Parts of the tax package were still in the final version of House Bill 1002 released and passed on the final day of session, but the provision reducing equipment taxes was nixed after pushback from both Republicans in the Senate and local governments who rely on those taxes for operations.
A bill that would have enabled lenders to offer a higher interest loan that the state currently would classify as felony loan sharking, passed the Senate but died after not receiving a House committee hearing in the second half of session.
Under Senate Bill 352, lenders could have charged an interest rate of 36% on most loans up to $2,500, plus an additional 13% monthly maintenance fee, substantially driving up total interest. Supporters say the bill created a method to assist Hoosiers who need money while also helping them build their credit back up, instead of forcing them to rely solely on controversial payday loans. Opponents, though, said the excess fees are dangerous, nor does the legislation prohibit problematic payday lending.
Book banning in schools and libraries
Senate Bill 17 would have removed a protection for K-12 schools and public libraries from the state’s law against distributing so-called “harmful material” to minors. Violating the law is a Level 6 Felony. Schools and libraries are among the entities with an automatic defense.
Supporters of the bill said it was an important step to protect children from accessing pornographic material, but opponents questioned the types of material that actually would be targeted in public schools and libraries. They called it a form of censorship that will be used to ban books that certain social conservatives don’t like — particularly books with sexually explicit scenes or those centered on LGBTQ experiences.
Indiana lawmakers filed a number of bills inspired by the critical race theory debate that has been raging at school boards around the country. Two of them received hearings but, in the end, the Senate killed both.
Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 1134 would have, among a long list of things, prohibited public K-12 schools from teaching students that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation” is inherently superior, inferior, racist, sexist, oppressive. They also sought to ban teaching that any individual should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, responsibility or any other form of psychological distress” on account of those same characteristics or that meritocracy was created by one group to oppress another.
HB 1134 passed the House Jan. 25 but was somewhat watered down in the Senate. After hours of closed-door discussions, Senate Republicans killed the bill on Feb. 28. Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said some members of the caucus thought the watered-down version didn’t go far enough and others thought the idea itself was bad policy.
Partisan school boards
Several proposals would have shifted Indiana’s currently non-partisan school board races to partisan ones, either by allowing or requiring candidates to declare their affiliation with a political party.
Only one of those, House Bill 1182, received a hearing. It would have required candidates to declare with a party. During a committee hearing Jan. 11, the bill was opposed by all the state’s major education-related groups and many current school board members, who feared it would inject too much politics in local schools.
Resident tuition for ‘dreamers’
Many states allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, provided they graduate from a high school in that state. Bills to add Indiana to that list have been filed for the last couple of years, but they’ve failed to gain traction during the current legislative session.
The Senate education committee heard one of the bills but never took a vote on the issue.
More than a dozen bills filed at the start of the legislative session would have overhauled marijuana use, whether through partial decriminalization, medical use or legalization, died without even receiving a committee hearing or vote.
Several of the dead bills proposed similar actions like Senate Bill 414 written by Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, and Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and House Bill 1311 written by Rep. Cindy Ziemke, R-Batesville.
Both bills would have legalized and set up procedures for cannabis production and sale.
Additional dead bills would have established medical marijuana or cannabis programs, so a person with a qualifying medical condition as determined by their physician can use the drug.
IndyGo dedicated bus lanes
A bill seeking to prevent IndyGo from establishing new dedicated bus lanes outside Mile Square in downtown Indianapolis, which would derail the public transit agency’s planned Blue Line, never got a hearing in the Senate.
Lawmakers behind the bill are concerned about what taking out general travel lanes would do to traffic and business activity on Washington Street, one of the city’s few east-west corridors.
Compensating landowners for eminent domain
When local governments want to build a new highway or a road, they often must acquire property owned by private owners through eminent domain. Currently, they must only pay at least the appraised market value of the property, although that can be — and often is — contested by the property owner through legal settlement or litigation.
Senate Bill 29 would have raised the compensation owned to those property owners for condemnation — or the taking of their property — to 120% of the appraised market value. It passed out of the Senate by a vote of 40-7 on Jan. 24 but failed to gain a hearing in the House and is dead.
Affordable housing development tax credits
Riding on bipartisan support, Senate Bill 262, which would have created a statewide affordable housing tax credit system, passed out of the Senate unanimously on Jan. 24 but failed to advance in the House.
A similar bill incentivizing affordable housing development had previously passed in the Senate in 2020, but also failed in the House.
Indiana has a severe lack of affordable housing, advocates say, and the bill would funnel federal tax credits to affordable housing developers seeking to develop units for low-income renters. With broad-based support from both the association representing landlords and tenant advocates, the bill was touted as a much-needed first step to fixing the state’s housing affordability crisis.
Tenants’ habitability enforcement bill
An Indiana bill that would have put the state in step with 45 other states by implementing tenants’ rights to enforce basic habitability standards in their rental homes was effectively killed in a Senate committee.
Carried by Senate Democrat Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, with Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, and Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, Senate Bill 230 would have given tenants the right to withhold rent if their landlord fails to make necessary housing repairs and the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the next rental payment, if the landlord fails to do so within 30 days.
It received a hearing on Jan. 24 only for the local government committee to vote by consent to convert the bill into a summer study session, putting an end to its chances of advancing this year.
Financial breaks for veterans
Several bills that would have offered financial breaks to Hoosier veterans stalled during session.
Senate Bill 217, House Bill 1098 and House Bill 1388 would have given all children of disabled veterans free in-state tuition, a provision that was in place in Indiana law until 2011 and still applied to the children of those who served prior to 2011.
Likewise, a bill requiring the Indiana war memorials commission to propose a global war on terrorism monument passed the House, but never received a vote in a Senate committee.
Making some speeding a misdemeanor
A bill that sought to codify the amount of speeding that qualifies as a misdemeanor died in the Senate.
Under current law, driving above the posted speed limit or “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions” can result in a citation. And in a separate statute, driving “recklessly” and at an “unreasonably high rate of speed” that endangers others can result in a Class C misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 168 proposed to standardize the misdemeanor threshold at 24 mph above the speed limit. It never got a committee hearing.
Vulnerable Road Users
A Senate bill sought to enact criminal penalties for drivers that strike and injure or kill a “vulnerable road user,” such as a pedestrian or cyclist, while committing a traffic offense.
Under current law, a driver must be committing another criminal offense, such as driving under the influence, to be held criminally responsible for hitting and injuring or killing someone on the road.
A bill that sought to change the way state road funding is distributed to localities died in the House.
Currently, funding for road work is distributed according to several factors, including population and the number of center-line road miles. But this formula, critics argue, doesn’t account for metropolitan areas that have wide roads with several lanes.
House Bill 1278 proposed changing the distribution to adhere to the number of vehicle miles traveled in a municipality. It didn’t get a committee hearing.
A Senate bill seeking to establish a pilot program using speed cameras in highway work zones failed to meet the second-reading deadline in the House and is now dead.
Senate Bill 179, authored by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, catches offenders speeding 11 mph or more over the speed limit in work zones while workers are present. Speed cameras capture pictures of the driver’s license plate, then mails them a fine — a warning for the first offense, $75 for the second and $150 for the third. There is an appeals process if the owner of the vehicle was not the driver.
Lawmakers have attempted similar legislation for several years; this is the furthest a bill has gotten.
A Senate bill seeking to slim down the state’s statutes on turn signal compliance died in the House.
The confusion over whether the bill proposed getting rid of turn signals completely sparked an initial outcry on social media and caught the attention of national media.
The Senate passed a bill seeking to establish a commission that would study and advocate for the expansion of passenger rail in Indiana, but it failed to get a hearing in the House.
Though the Senate has demonstrated over the years a disinterest in passenger rail, as one senator put it during a hearing, Republican committee chairman Michael Crider said he chose to hear the bill because of the potential influx of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Indiana can compete for $12 billion of federal-state partnership grants available to bolster or establish inter-city rail service.
Concerns with Marion County Democratic leader
Lawmakers nixed language from an elections-related bill that would have forced the chair of the Marion County Democratic Party to resign her chairmanship or tap out of the race for Marion County clerk.
The language split Democrats and was the latest example of the inner-party rift in Indianapolis.
Some Marion County Democrats successfully added on language to the Republican-authored Senate Bill 328, forbidding the chair of a Marion County political party from holding or seeking elected office. Local Democratic party chair Kate Sweeney Bell is running for Marion County clerk.
But Democrats selected to the conference committee for bill, Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis and Rep. Tonya Pfaff of Terre Haute, agreed to remove the language.
Marion County Sheriff spending
A Senate bill that would have restricted the Marion County Sheriff Office’s ability to spend money from its commissary fund failed to receive a hearing in the House.
Senate Bill 307 would have required the department to present a quarterly update regarding purchases out of the fund. It passed the Senate on Jan. 27 by a 35-11 vote.
Democrats voiced concern against the bill, which applied only to Marion County. Sheriff Kerry Forestal told lawmakers that his office already delivers a report every six months for the city-county council detailing spending from that fund.
Digital billboard in Marion County
The Marion County Fairgrounds won’t be getting a new digital billboard sanctioned through a Senate bill that failed to make it through the House.
The ‘tampon tax’
A proposal to exempt feminine hygiene products from taxation died in the Senate.
Senate Bill 169, filed by Bloomington Democrat Rep. Shelli Yoder, never received a committee hearing or vote.
County hospital secrecy
Millions of dollars in federal nursing home spending will remain shrouded in secrecy after lawmakers scrapped Senate Bill 405.
Introduced by Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, the measure would have forced county hospitals to disclose how much they pay their executives and how much money they divert from their nursing homes. It also would have required the Indiana Department of Health to establish new quality metrics for nursing homes and it would have prohibited retaliation against whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing at health facilities.
Regulation of fireworks
A bill that would have allowed municipalities to restrict consumer fireworks for eight days surrounding the July 4 holiday died in committee.
House Bill 1053 from Rep. Donna Schaibley, R-Carmel, would have allowed municipalities to restrict fireworks use on June 29, June 30, July 1, July 2 and July 6-9. Current law prohibits municipalities from adopting such an ordinance restricting fireworks on those days.
Schaibley said the bill was pulled out of concern over a potential drop in the 5% public safety fee that is tacked onto fireworks sales. Part of that fee funds regional training for firefighters.
Discrimination in housing appraisals
House Bill 1326 never stood a chance. Filed by Democratic Rep. Cherrish Pryor of Indianapolis, the bill sought to address discrimination in home appraisals and lending.
It prohibits the use of an applicant’s inherent characteristics — their race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin — and their neighborhood demographics as a basis for establishing terms and conditions on residential real estate transactions, among other things.
But, the bill was never added to the agenda of the House’s Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee for discussion, ensuring its death.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.