5/15/2018 10:39:00 AM Indiana GOP supermajority passes bills during 2018 special legislative session
Ken de la Bastide, Herald Bulletin and Scott L. Miley, CNHI Statehouse Bureau
INDIANAPOLIS — School safety measures and aligning Hoosier taxpayer filings with new federal requirements were among five bills approved Monday during a one-day special session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Some Democrats were frustrated that they had little say in the session, which was led by a Republican supermajority.
Democrats in both chambers suggested the session should have been delayed.
“In about another month, we are supposed to get a report telling us what is wrong with the state’s Department of Child Services and offering some solutions,” said House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin.
“When that report is completed and the system-wide problems prove to be as pervasive as most people believe them to be, just remember that the Republicans in charge of state government do not believe these problems are bad enough that we need to have a special session to address them.”
“According to the Republican leadership, protecting big business is worth $30,000 a day in taxpayer money. Gutting our public schools is worth $30,000 a day in taxpayer money. Protecting the lives of at-risk children is not worth $1 a day in taxpayer money,” Goodin said.
The special session should cost taxpayers about $20,000, less than the original estimate of $30,000, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said as the House adjourned Monday afternoon. “As I’ve indicated, we saved them about $140,000 in session days last year, so we’re still ahead of the game,” he said. The special session was called by Gov. Eric Holcomb after legislators didn’t pass bills considered critical by the governor before the March 14 end of the regular session. Bosma said the special session Monday was tied into the annual day when legislators meet to correct technical errors in recently passed legislation.
Democrats, he said, “should contact their local schools to see if they really wanted a school safety bill. They should talk to local taxpayers as to whether they wanted to file two separate tax returns — one federal, one state — and have some of our largest corporate citizens very negatively impacted without the bills that were here today.”
In addition to a technical corrections bill, legislation passing both chambers and now awaiting Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature includes the following:
House Bill 1230: Initially tightening rules on bullying and cyber-bullying, this school safety bill now offers $5 million for school safety grants. In addition, $35 million would be available from the state’s common school loan fund for safety upgrades, limited to $500,000 per district.
House Bill 1242: The Indiana Department of Revenue urged this bill adding language to match a recently implemented IRS requirement, said DOR spokesperson Emily Landis. One provision would require that anyone who has access to federal tax information undergo FBI background checks, including fingerprints.
House Bill 1316: This bill aligns laws with national tax reform. Provisions address Hoosiers who have to file amended taxes due to trusts in estates. Hoosiers can also use College Choice 529 accounts — originally intended for higher education expenses — to cover K-12 tuition in private or charter schools.
House Bill 1315: The state’s handling of distressed school units such as Muncie and Gary was fine tuned, with Ball State trustees taking authority over Muncie schools and the Gary school board becoming an advisory board to a state-appointed emergency manager.