Friday, March 11, 2016

Legislative update

The Arc of Indiana
Legislative Action Alert
Friday, March 11, 2016

The Indiana General Assembly adjourned sine die on Thursday evening!
It was a short session and one that is known for being very political and at the end of the day, ending with very few legislative victories. 
Here is an update on some meaningful legislation to the disability community:
SB 11 – ABLE ACT AWAITING GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE
SB 11 – ABLE Act, introduced by Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville).  Creates the “achieving a better life experience” (ABLE) authority.  Established the ABLE Board of the authority.  Requires the authority to establish a qualified ABLE program under which a person may make contributions for a taxable year for the benefit of an eligible individual with a disability to an ABLE account to meet the qualified disability expenses of the designated beneficiary in compliance with federal law.  
The makeup of the ABLE Board which will develop the policies of the authority and the accounts has the following makeup:  4 ex officio members including the treasurer of state, the secretary of family and social services, the budget director and the lieutenant governor.  In addition, there are 5 members appointed by the Governor who are: (1) one member who has significant experience in actuarial analysis, accounting, investment management, or other areas of finance that are relevant to the authority; (2) one member who has significant legal expertise and knowledge in estate planning; (3) one member who is a representative of a statewide association  that advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities; (4) one member who is an individual with a disability; and (5) one member who is a family member of an individual with a disability.
The bill also includes language to assist in clarifying an issue around group home funding.  Wording was added that removes language that specifies Medicaid reimbursement rates for services provided by: (1) an ICF/MR facility; or (2) a community residential facility for the developmentally disabled. Voids an administrative rule that specifies Medicaid reimbursement rates for services by these facilities.
The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.
The Governor’s office has already reached out to us about doing a ceremonial bill signing.  Please be sure to send appreciation messages to Governor Pence http://www.in.gov/gov/2752.htm,  Treasurer Mitchell kemitchell@tos.in.gov and clarson1@tos.in.gov  , Senator Kenley  Senator.Kenley@iga.in.gov and Representative Clere h72@iga.in.gov  for leading this important legislation. 
DIPLOMA BILL AWAITING GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE
HB 1219 – High School Diplomas. Requires a high school operated by a school corporation to offer the high school’s students the opportunity to earn any type pf state diploma approved by the state board of education.  Provides that a student with a disability shall not be required to complete local requirements that exceed state requirements to receive a diploma unless approved by the case conference committee.
This bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature.    
IDENTIFICATION CARD/BRACELET BILL PASSES AND HEADS TO GOVERNOR
HB 1012 – Developmental Disability Bracelet and Identification Card.  Requires the state department of health, upon request, to issue a bracelet, an identification card, or both indicating that an individual has been medically diagnosed with a developmental disability.  Allows the department to charge a fee for the bracelet and identification card.  Provides that the information collected by the department is confidential and establishes requirements before information may be released under a court order.
The intent of the card is to help people with disabilities be identified in emergency situations and to help first responders realize that the situation may need to be handled in a sensitive manner.
The bill went to conference committee earlier this week and the House and Senate passed the conference committee report.  The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Representative Eric Koch and Senator Vaneta Becker should be applauded for their hard work on this bill.  Please take a moment to thank them for their efforts.   h65@iga.in.gov andSenator.Becker@iga.in.gov.
HB 1337 PASSES LEGISLATURE/PROHIBITS ABORTION OF A FETUS DETERMINED TO HAVE DISABILITY
HB 1337 – Abortion.  Requires the state department of health to develop certain information concerning perinatal hospice care.  Requires physicians to provide information about perinatal hospice care to a pregnant woman who is considering an abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.  Makes numerous other provisions for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.  Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of; (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.  Provides for disciplinary sanctions and civil liability for wrongful death if a person knowingly or intentionally performs a sex selective abortion or an abortion conducted because of a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability.
The Arc of Indiana strongly opposed this bill.  Not because we have a position on pro life/pro choice legislation, as we do not, but because people with disabilities were used to move forward a political agenda of an active political organization. There is no data showing that pregnancies are being performed solely because the fetus is determined to have a disability.  This bill was largely targeted at limited the availability of abortions and the disposal of fetal humans.  The language from SB 313 was added in the Senate, after the House refused to hear the bill, which added the disability specific language as well as other provisions.  The Arc did support the creation of a perinatal hospice brochure so women who were facing the difficult reality of their child having a disability that would result in death either in the womb or shortly after birth would know resources available to them.
This is a difficult and serious issue and one that we did not enter into lightly.  However, it became very clear that the bill was not about facts but more so about pushing a political agenda forward and for that we needed to take a stand.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk and awaits his signature.
OTHER BILLS:
HB 1395 – ISTEP Matters.  Provides that provisions relating to high ability students apply to performance qualified school districts. Establishes a panel to study alternatives to the ISTEP program tests and to make recommendations for replacing the ISTEP Program.
This bill moves to the Governor’s desk to await his signature. 
SB 93 – Various Education Matters. Provides that the financial specialist for the Gary Community School Corporation may perform duties authorized under the statute for not more than 24 consecutive months.  Amends the definition of secondary school to include certain elementary grades for purposes of a federal student loan forgiveness program for highly qualified teachers in high needs areas.  Makes changes to the school report card.  Requests the legislative council to assign to a study committee the following topics: (1) whether a new charter school should be required to establish an escrow account for expenses if the charter school closes, and who should control the account; (2) graduation rates, including the feasibility of amending the definition of “cohort” for purposes of determining graduation rates to exclude students who are pursuing a certificate of completion under an IEP; (3) methods to ensure opportunities for secondary school students to earn college credits while enrolled in high school and to provide incentives for a teacher to obtain a master’s degree or at least 18 hours of graduate coursework in the subject matter the teacher is teaching or wishes to teach as a part of a dual credit course; (4) the feasibility of allowing a school corporation and an individual teacher to voluntarily enter into an employment contract that contains terms that differ from the terms set forth in a collective bargaining agreement, and issues related to the topic; (5) the feasibility of allowing a school corporation to allow a student to receive elective credits for released time religious education, and the conditions under which the credits may be awarded; (6) issues related to the establishment of special education scholarship accounts and a special education scholarship account fund.
This bill passed and will head to the Governor to await his signature.    
SB 192 – Guardianship and Adult Protective Services Report.  Urges the legislative council to assign to the appropriate committee a study of the visitation, communication, and interaction with a protected person.   Requires FSSA in cooperation with the Indiana prosecuting attorneys council (IPAC) to prepare and submit a report to the legislative council before December 1, 2016, concerning adult protective services. 
This bill moves to the Governor’s desk to await his signature.  
SB 206 – FSSA Matters.  Allows the secretary of FSSA to delegate appointment authorities, the issuance of certain orders, and other acts to carry out the functions of the divisions to an individual.  Authorizes the secretary to adopt rules concerning the implementation and administration of the early education grant pilot program.  Creates an exception for state institutions concerning advanced practice nurses acting under a collaborative agreement with a practitioner, requiring that the nurse act under privileges by the governing body of the institution.
This bill moves to the Governor’s desk to await his signature.   
SB 220 – Bias Crimes.  Permits that a court may consider aggravating circumstances in determining a sentence to be imposed.  Allows as an aggravating circumstance of an act of crime committed with the intent to harm or intimidate an individual because of the individual’s race, religion, color, sex, gender, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation or transgender status, or status as a veteran or member of the armed forces.   
This bill did not receive a hearing the House.  The issue is dead for this session but we will continue to be involved in moving this issue forward next year.
SB 309 – State and local taxation.  Eliminates the exemption for property taxes during planning and construction of a residence that is conveyed upon completion to a low income individual by a nonprofit organization.  Eliminates the exemption for property taxes for improvements on real property that are constructed, rehabilitated or acquired for the purpose of providing low income housing (and also eliminates the PILOTS required from the taxpayers claiming the exemption.  Eliminates the property tax deduction for residential rehabilitation of a dwelling.  Eliminates the property tax deduction for rehabilitation of a structure over 50 years old. Makes numerous other provisions.
This bill moves to the Governor’s desk to await his signature.  
SB 313 -- Abortion Matters.   Requires the state department of health to develop certain information concerning perinatal hospice care.  Requires physicians to provide information about perinatal hospice care to a pregnant woman who is considering an abortion because the unborn child has been diagnosed with a lethal fatal anomaly.  Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking an abortion solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability.
Though this bill did not receive a hearing in the House, it was amended into HB 1337 in the Senate. We are awaiting a concurrence/dissent to be filed in the House.
SB 321 – Local Government Budgeting.  Makes numerous provisions relating to local government funding. 
As introduced the bill could have had a larger impact on the level of county funding received by a community intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities center located within a county.  The language was changed on second reading to clarify that for property taxes due and payable after December 31, 2016, the maximum allowable appropriation is equal to the result of: (1) the maximum allowable appropriation by the county for the preceding year; multiplied by (2) the assessed value growth quotient determined under IC 6-1.1-18.5-2 for the year.  This should not have an impact on current centers receiving funding but may impact a center receiving first time funding from the county.
This bill moves to the Governor’s desk to await his signature.  
SB 323 – Combined Reporting Study.  Requires the legislative services agency to: (1) study the combined reporting approach to apportioning income for income tax purposes; and (2) report the results of the study before October 1, 2016, to the legislative council and to the interim study committee on fiscal policy. Requires the interim study committee on fiscal policy to hold at least one public hearing at which the legislative services agency presents the results of the study.
This bill was amended in committee to include language urging the legislative council to assign to the interim study committee on fiscal policy the following topics: (1) new requirements from CMS pertaining to home and community based settings; (2) the effect of the requirements on Indiana waiver services for people with disabilities, rate reimbursement and rate methodology; (3) the fiscal impact of the requirements; (4) the impact of the change from daily rate billing to hourly billing for facility based habilitation services on the services provided and the providers of the services.  Also requires FSSA to respond to the above mentioned information by October 1, 2016, the following: (1) the effect of the CMS requirements on Indian waiver services for people with disabilities; (2) the fiscal impact of the requirements of the CMS rule; (3) the impact of the change from daily rate billing to hourly billing for facility based habilitation services on the services provided and the providers of the services; and options identified by FSSA for ensuring viability of facility based habilitation services.
This bill awaits the Governor’s signature.   
SR 39 – A senate resolution urging the legislative council to assign to an appropriate study committee the topic of the Employment First Program.  The Program promotes and expands quality, community employment outcomes for all people with disabilities. 
The resolution passed and will be considered for summer study committee when the Legislative Council meets next.   

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