Indiana Legislative Update

By Caryl Auslander ● October 24, 2022

Local, state, and federal highlights in this week's memo include:

  • Indiana’s Healthcare Costs Remain Cause of Concern for Indiana Lawmakers
  • Indianapolis City-Council Passes $1.4 Billion Budget
  • Indiana’s Unemployment Rate Remains Below 3%
  • Indiana Sees Significant Decline in NAEP Scores
  • Indiana Governor Not to Follow Suit on Biden’s Federal Pardon Plans
  • Indiana Commission Sends Recommendations to General Assembly to Aid Immigrant Children
  • Taxpayers May Keep More of Their Income This Year
  • Federal Deficit Shrinks
  • Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program Put on Hold
  • Important Dates

Indiana's Healthcare Costs Remain Cause of Concern for Indiana Lawmakers

What’s new: According to a new study commission by state lawmakers, a high concentration of hospital, physician and insurance markets in Indiana have likely contributed to health-care costs soaring 48% here in a recent nine-year period

  • This was a sharper climb than the 35% average increase in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin between 2011 and 2020, the study said.

Yes, but: There are varying opinions as to what the underline problem is.

  • Some physicians said that the price of some specialty drugs have risen sharply, although patients are living longer.

  • The Indiana Hospital Association said it recognized that health care is expensive and that its members need to address affordability. Already, some hospitals and insurers have reached deals to lower prices.

  • Representatives of pharmacy benefits managers, drug makers, community pharmacies, health insurers, physicians, and others staked out their cases that they are doing the best they can in a difficult, unpredictable system.

What’s next: Leaders of the Indiana General Assembly have called on the healthcare industry to act on figuring out how to lower healthcare costs for Hoosiers. We can anticipate that there may be legislation in the upcoming session that will aim to address the problem as well. (IBJ)

Indianapolis City-Council Passes $1.4 Billion Budget 

What’s new: Last week, the Indianapolis City-County Council passed a $1.4 billion city budget which includes record0high public safety spending and investments in infrastructure and mental health response.

The details:

  • The budget increases IMPD's starting salary for first-year officers - an increase from 16% to $61,829, with a signing bonus for new officers of $10,000.

  • The budget allocates $2 million for a 24-hour clinician-led emergency response team that will respond instead of police officers when residents experience nonviolent mental health crises.

  • Additionally, the budget includes a 5-year, $1.1 billion plan to improve roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks.

  • Funding will also be provided for a new traffic engineer to review fatal traffic accidents.

  • The Indy Achieves Completion grant program will also gain an additional $500,000 through the budget to fund 200 more grants for Marion County residents to re-enroll in school by covering outstanding bills at Ivy Tech Community College or IUPUI.

What they’re saying"The bipartisan passage of next year’s budget is a major victory for Indianapolis residents, as we invest unprecedented resources towards public safety, chart a bold vision for the future of infrastructure, and enhance quality of life in neighborhoods throughout Marion County," Mayor Hogsett said in a statement. (IndyStar)

Indiana's Unemployment Rate Remains Below 3%

What’s new: In a report released by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on Friday, Indiana’s unemployment rate remained at 2.8% for September, unchanged from the previous month - the state gained 10,500 private-sector jobs last month.

Why it matters: September was the 12th consecutive month in which Indiana had an unemployment rate below 3%. The DWD attributed the new jobs to gains in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, financial activities, construction, and private educational and health services sectors.

The details:

  • The state’s labor force participation rate also remained steady at 63.4% - higher than the national rate which decreased slightly to 62.35.

  • The labor force, which includes residents who are employed or seeking employment, stands at 3,401,036, down 707 from the previous month.

  • Indiana’s total private employment is 2,773,600 (IBJ)

Indiana Sees Significant Decline in NAEP Scores

What’s new: In a newly released report by the National Assessment Educational Progress (NAEP), Indiana students’ math and reading scores on “the nation’s report card” declined from pre-pandemic results, with the state’s average math scores declining the most.

The details:

  • In reading, Indiana had proficiency rates that were similar to 40 other states or jurisdictions, and just a few had proficiency percentages that were considered significantly higher than Indiana’s.

  • In math, Indiana’s scores were on par with roughly half the states or jurisdictions.


  • Indiana students who attend urban schools or are from low-income backgrounds had some of the lowest scores in fourth grade math and reading.

The bigger picture: Indiana has already launched multiple efforts aimed at academic recovery, such as Indiana Learns, a tutoring program funded through federal relief dollars that gives fourth and fifth grade students up to $1,000 for math and reading tutoring. 

Indiana Governor Not To Follow Suit on Biden's Federal Pardon Plans

What’s new: In the wake of President Biden granting pardons to all Americans with federal convictions of simple marijuana possession in an executive order last month, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb released a statement saying that Indiana will not follow suit.

What they’re saying: “The President should work with Congress, not around [it], to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting Governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a written statement to the Capital Chronicle. “Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders.”

Yes, but: The Governor did agree that some of the offenses should not come with a life sentence after an individual has served their time.

  • “What Indiana has done is act proactively, not reactively, by creating an opportunity for those who have maintained a clean record since a conviction of simple marijuana possession and a number of lower-level offenses, to apply for—and receive—an expungement which seals their record. … Expunged convictions cannot be disclosed to employers, to those who grant licenses, or when seeking housing.” (IBJ)

Indiana Commission Sends Recommendations to General Assembly to Aid Immigrant Children

What’s new: The Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana on Wednesday voted on recommendations to help thousands of Indiana immigrant children who do not have insurance coverage. The panel is urging lawmakers to fix that gap by waiving a regulatory five-year waiting period.

By the numbers:

  • An estimated 4,513 to 5,961 children under the age of 19 will be eligible when the waiting period ends, as well as 475 to 627 young adults between the ages of 19 and 21.

  • Roughly 481 to 634 pregnant women will also get coverage.

  • Despite this, there are still approximately 110,000-120,000 children uninsured in Indiana.

What they’re saying:

  • “It’s pretty fair to say that there are a lot of obstacles facing our new immigrant population, regardless of how well we do as a state. There are language barriers, cultural barriers, figuring out how our health system is,” Fairchild said. How it works compared to other countries. “This group has a very high risk and with gaps in coverage they miss out on … screening, health screening, early vaccination.”

  • Representative Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) wrote a similar law to address this issue last year at the General Assembly and released a statement saying, “[the panel’s] recommendation reinforces the fact that our state must recognize that access to health care is a basic need. Infant mortality is often used as an indicator of a community’s public health, and early antenatal care should be considered. And health screening is proven to increase the outcomes of healthy pregnancies,” Bauer said. “By removing the five-year waiting period, we will reduce our reliance on emergency services, build healthier communities, and be a more welcoming state for the new Hoosier families. It’s a step in the right direction.” (Latest Finance)

Taxpayers May Keep More of Their Income This Year

What’s new: The Internal Revenue Service announced last week that Americans to shield more of their income from taxes in 2023 because of higher inflation by raising income thresholds for all tax brackets and increasing the standard deduction.

The details:

  • Federal tax brackets will be about 7% higher for the 2023 tax year (filed in 2024)

  • The standard deduction — the baseline amount of income that filers can collect tax free — will increase to $13,850 for individuals and $27,700 for married couples. It is the largest adjustment to deductions since 1985, when the IRS began annual automatic inflationary adjustments.

  • The IRS will also allow parents adopting a child to shield $15,950 per child from taxes, up from $14,890 in 2022. (Washington Post)

Federal Deficit Shrinks

What’s new: New numbers from the Treasury on Friday show the federal budget shortfall was chopped in half in the last fiscal year (which ended last month), falling to $1.38 trillion.

Driving the news: Federal outlays were $6.3 trillion, down more than 8% from the previous year. That drop largely reflects the end of COVID-related government programs, like topped-up unemployment benefits.

What they're saying: In a statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the figures demonstrate President Biden's "commitment to strengthening our nation's fiscal health."

Yes, but: The fiscal road ahead looks more troubling. For one, the economy is cooling down, and many economists expect the unemployment rate to rise in the year ahead. So while the labor market caught a tailwind in the last fiscal year, headwinds may appear in 2023. (Axios)

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program Put on Hold

What’s new: On Friday, a federal appeals court blocked the imminent cancellation of federal student loans under President Biden’s debt relief program, days after millions of borrowers began applying for up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

What they’re saying: President Biden released a statement following the block saying, “Our student loan plan lowers costs for Americans as they recover from the pandemic to give everybody a little more breathing room,” Biden said. “Republican members of Congress, Republican governors are doing everything they can to deny this relief. Their outrage is wrong and it’s hypocritical.”

What’s next: It is unknown when the court will decide the case, but it has agreed to an expedited briefing on the motion. The appeals court is instructing the Biden administration to stand down on discharging debt under the relief effort as the administration had prepared to start canceling loans as early as next week. (Washington Post)

Important Dates

  • Monday, October 24th at 1pm - Interim Study Committee on Education
  • Monday, October 24th - Bill pre-filing opens
  • Thursday, October 27th at 10am - Housing Task Force
  • Tuesday, November 22nd at 1:30pm - Organization Day
  • Friday, December 9th - LSA bill request deadline
  • Monday, January 9th - 2023 Legislative Session Reconvenes