May 30th, 2019
School’s Out for Summer*
*Unless You’re in a Balanced Calendar District
Area school systems dismissed somewhere between last week and this week … unless you are in a balanced calendar district and the school bus continues to roll by your house at 6:45 a.m., blowing the horn at the neighbor kid who nine months into it, still needs an alarm clock. Nonetheless, it’s report card time for all, including our state lawmakers' efforts for the 2019 session. And we have the update on interim study committee assignments, aka summer school for legislators. Read on.
OneZone’s Hits and Misses of 2019 . Late last fall, OneZone posted its priority agenda for the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly, and we’ve tried to track that progress accordingly and relay it to you in “3 for Thursday.” In brief, below, we grade how we fared. For more detail, check the website to see how your representatives voted and where they stand on the business issues that impact you:

Hate Crimes – OneZone Grade:  B/Incomplete. There were plenty of highs and lows on the way to Indiana’s passage of a hate crimes bill that, while not as specific as we’d have liked, did get a law on the books. Governor Holcomb signed SB 198 in early April.

Alcohol Law Updates – OneZone Grade: A. We wanted growing communities to be able to get more liquor licenses without having to conduct and pay for a referendum. That section of HB 1518 was removed, and some other wins for common sense made it through as well, including allowing liquor to be sold from golf carts on a golf course, and allowing restaurants and others to run a tab on alcohol.

School Safety – OneZone Grade: B overall. We liked a lot about HB 1004 but unfortunately, the mental health portions of the bill were removed. Also removed was an amendment to provide immunity for those involved in the creation of school safety plans, due to perceptions that it would be impossible to ascertain whom to include, and that immunity would consequently broaden unnecessarily. However, 1004 did allow for matching grants for schools for a variety of safety expenditures, including school resource officers, which Hamilton County schools said they’d want most. Also passed was Rep. Tony Cook’s HB 1398 ’s common sense law that will allow investigators to share records with schools, while keeping those reports from other public sources. Rep. Donna Schaibley’s HB 1651 fixed a loophole in the current “red-flag law,” allowing judges to keep people deemed dangerous from renting, owning or purchasing a gun, or getting a handgun license. In addition, this bill allows anybody who knowingly provides a person deemed dangerous with weapons to be charged with a Level 5 felony. Sen. Travis Holdman’s SB 127 allows a school corporation to put a referendum on the ballot for a school safety tax. SB 325 – Rep. Tony Cook; Rep. Sullivan; Senators Crider and Merritt adds additional purposes for which matching grants can be made from the state school fund, including school security and parent support services. Interesting note: This bill also urged a summer study for reviewing school districts, in and out of the state, that have implemented unique safety approaches and worked with community partners to provide systems for students. That topic was not unfortunately included for summer study in 2019. SB 359 – Senators Crider and Charbonneau; Reps. Kirchhofer, Bacon, Shakleford and Beck requires crisis centers, psychiatric impatient units and residential treatment centers to, among other things, make a good faith effort before a patient leaves a facility, to obtain patient’s consent to disclose the individualized mental health safety plan with school-based mental health providers who will be supporting the patient’s safe transition back into the community or school.   

Economic Development – OneZone Grade: Incomplete We supported efforts to promote regionalism, including extending Regional Development Authority funding or creating Regional Investment Hubs. Those failed to get traction, however, a summer study committee (see below) has been announced. What did pass: SB 563 (Also known as the governor’s economic development bill) Senators Holdman & Houchin; Reps. Huston, Brown, Lehman & Porter , SB 563 changed Indiana from a method of taxation that penalized Indiana-based companies doing business outside of the state to a market-based method that requires out-of-state companies to pay tax when their customers are in Indiana. So, a company interested in moving to Indiana now has an incentive, rather than a disincentive, to do so.

Tobacco/Vaping Age Reform, Tax Reform, Anything – OneZone Grade -F/Incomplete . Once again, efforts by a large number of health, business and chamber organizations to make progress on dealing with the huge costs of Indiana’s smoking addition failed. We’re adding the incomplete because those organizations, including ours, will continue the work on this important legislation. It’s a business issue when companies take a look at our rates of smoking and the associated health costs and decide to look elsewhere.
In the “things you didn’t know” column … How topics are chosen for Legislative Interim Study Committee: Interim study committee topics are determined by urging in statute, resolution, or letter to leadership. In total, during the 2019 legislative session, there were 155 topics requested this year. The Speaker, Senate Pro Tempore, and House and Senate Minority Leaders vote by secret ballot on topics they would like studied. Topics must receive 3 of 4 votes of the leaders in order to move forward, and all in all around 40-50 topics made the cut. (In the “nothing to see here” category, there will be no study committees on economic development, elections, environmental affairs or public safety and military affairs.) Topics that OneZone will be monitoring from “Camp Legislature” include: 

  • Career counseling in elementary and high schools during the 2018 through 2020 interims: (i) The adequacy of current state and local funding for a school corporation's career counseling of students. (ii) The current workload of a school corporation's career counselors. (iii) The impact of having multiple graduation pathways on a school corporation's career counselor's workload. (iv) The fiscal impact of having multiple graduation pathways on a school corporation's ability to provide adequate career counseling to students

  • How money generated by property tax referenda is used and the effect of property tax referenda on teacher pay

  • Worker mis-classification

  • Multi-year review of presentation to the Committee concerning the status of the unemployment compensation system  

  • The various drivers of health care cost increases

  • Criteria for formation of regional development authorities and imposition of taxes for regional development authorities

  • Taxation of CBD oil and vaping products

  • A multi-year review of workforce related program reports from the Legislative

  • Commercial ticketing market, including scalping, ticket resales, speculative ticketing, and ticket platforms

All interim study committee reports are due back by November 1, 2019.

A Level Party Field. OneZone stands with the City of Carmel in its decision to put the kabosh on the Lucas Oil estate hosting public events. Below is OneZone’s official statement:

American business thrives on competition. Being named the best restaurant in town is meaningless if there's only one restaurant in town. All businesses ask for is a level playing field, and a chance to compete fairly. When that happens, all businesses' opportunities can rise.

That's why we believe the City of Carmel is doing the right thing by demanding that the Lucas Oil estate either obtain the proper zoning to operate an event facility or stop doing so. The banquet/event space business is big, but it's also tough, and our members who provide such services continually invest in their businesses to remain competitive. They get permits when they add to their facilities, and they make certain they are zoned properly for their business activities.

If the Lucas Oil property wants to join the competition -- great. They'll be welcome. But they need to abide by the same rules everybody else has to follow to do so, and zoning is one of them. It's simply bad for business to allow an unlevel playing field to continue.

Plus One: Speaking of official statements … Fisher's Mayor Scott Fadness issued one this morning regarding yesterday’s announcement from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s nine-county proposal for infrastructure improvements. “I’m perplexed by Mayor Hogsett’s proposal that is not consistent with the work the Central Indiana Conference of Elected Officials has been doing collectively over the last year. While I agree that regionalism is important, I believe we need to find a solution that will transcend political seasons and ensure the long-term sustainability of our region.”