The Indiana General Assembly ended its 2020 regular legislative session on March 11, 2020, three days before the last day permitted by statute for short sessions. Of the 903 bills filed in the House and Senate, 168 bills, almost 19% of those filed, passed through to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
Although ICADV did not request specific legislation this session, ICADV was part of a number of different coalitions advocating on legislation including pregnancy accommodation (SB 342) and protections from usurious credit, and against legislation that both preempts local control over attempts to stabilize and improve rental housing, and diminishes renter protections (HEA 148). ICADV also participated in shaping the legislation which moves 211 to FSSA (SEA 267), and will hopefully participate in groups advising the transfer and operation of the revamped 211 system.
Governor Holcomb’s 2020 agenda included support of SB 342, which would have added Indiana to the 27 states that already require employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant women on the job. ICADV joined a wide cross-section of professionals, businesses, and individuals testifying in support of SB 342 in the senate committee, including support sent from former Governor Mitch Daniels. SB 342 passed committee with only 2 dissenting votes. Unfortunately, under the pressure of strong opposition from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association, SB 342 was amended on second reading to turn it into a bill urging interim study. The goal will now be to have Legislative Council recommend study of this issue, hopefully in the interim health committee, and return to a push for its passage in 2021.
2020 was the first in 5 years that the payday lobby was not pushing legislation to expand high interest lending. Senators Walker and Melton again filed legislation to limit payday loans to 36%, but neither was heard this year. Security Finance returned to seek enabling of installment loans at 99%APR, but that bill was also not heard. Ultimately, the only bills that passed were SEA 395 and HEA 1353, neither of which raised interest rates. However,SEA 395 does increase allowable non-refundable origination and refinancing fees, while banning precomputed interest.
Another bill that arose in the last 2 weeks of session was an amendment to SB 340 on the last day for hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, with no public notice or access. It bans local government from regulating any aspect of the landlord-tenant relationship, unless expressly permitted by an act of the General Assembly, and adds language to protect tenants against retaliation that is full of holes and can be written away in contracts, and which could also allow landlords to more quickly evict tenants in a broader range of cases. This language passed the House and was then moved to SEA 148 in conference committee, from where it passed out and now sits on the Governor’s desk for action.
Along with pregnancy accommodation, other topics which may be studied over the summer interim are overcrowded jails (and perhaps pre-trial release), guardianship, and affordable housing tax credits.
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