Tech Legislative UPDATE: Technology & The 118th General Assembly

Legislature Considering Bills on Workforce Development, Attraction of Capital and Education

The 118th General Assembly has been hard at work since January 7th at the Indiana State House. The House of Representatives is led by Republican Speaker Brian Bosma, of Indianapolis, and the Senate is led by Republican President Pro Tempore David Long of Fort Wayne. The House is led by a Republican majority, with 69 Republican Representatives and 31 Democrat Representatives. The Senate also has a Republican majority, with 37 of 50 members.

The General Assembly has made it to the halfway point in the legislative session, which is scheduled to end April 29th. Deadlines for the first half Third Readings, when bills are voted up or down, were February 25th for the House of Representatives, and February 26th for the Senate. The week of March 4th will begin the start of the second half of session. This session is a long budget-writing session.

Governor Mike Pence signed his first bill into law on Wednesday, February 27. Pence signed Senate Bill 319, a property tax relief bill, during a ceremony in his Statehouse office. There are a few bills that were discussed during the first half of the session that will be of interest to the TechPoint community. This newsletter will recap bills dealing with workforce development, attraction of capital, and technology and vocational education.

State Senators had the opportunity to chat live with an astronaut who is aboard the International Space Station. President Pro Tem David Long led the twenty minute conversation with Commander Kevin Ford, a flight engineer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the brother of former state Senator David Ford, R-Hartford City. Long and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane's conversation with the astronaut ranged from his experiments, to his diet while in space, to overcoming the language barrier with Russian and Japanese astronauts who are also aboard the International Space Station. To watch a clip of the conversation, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2Ymrd7yfsU.

Workforce Development

HB 1002: Indiana Career Council (Author: Speaker Brian Bosma)

Establishes the Indiana career council (ICC) to:

(1) align the various participants in the state's education, job skills development, and career training system;

(2) match the education and skills training provided by the state's education, job skills development, and career training system with the currently existing and future needs of the state's job market;

(3) oversee the Indiana workforce intelligence system;

(4) submit to the general assembly by August 1, 2013 and August 1 annually, an inventory of current job and career training activities conducted by state and local agencies and private groups;

(5) submit, by July 1, 2014, a strategic plan to the general assembly to improve the state's education, job skills, and career training system; and

(6) submit to the general assembly by December 1, 2013 a progress report concerning the strategic plan

This bill passed out of the House 99-0 and was referred to the Senate. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedures committee. House Speaker Bosma presented an amendment that creates a strategic plan to improve Indiana’s education, job skills development and career training system to the list of directives required of the ICC. It requires the ICC to create an inventory of the current job and career training programs. The amendment additionally adds another member to the ICC from the life sciences industry.  One other major component of the amendment is to require the data system to generate reports to be made available to the public about the effectiveness of the state’s job training programs. “The amendment offered today will help match education and skills with the current and future needs of the state’s job market. We have not only a skills gap in Indiana, we have an opportunity gap.  We must make every effort to align our job training and educational efforts with available and prospective Hoosier jobs. The ICC will bring the key players together to unite a fragmented system, share data and coordinate the elements of the state’s workforce development efforts,” said Speaker Bosma.

More than 930,000 Hoosiers – nearly one-third of Indiana’s workforce – lack even the most basic skills to thrive in today’s economy.  Members of the ICC will be charged with aligning the education skills and training provided by Indiana’s educational, job skills and career training systems with the existing and projected needs of the state’s job market. The ICC will also be charged with submitting recommendations to the General Assembly on necessary improvements to Indiana’s job skills training system.

Attraction of Capital

SB 521: Indiana New Markets Jobs Act (Author: Senator Randy Head)

The terms of this bill will bring millions of dollars in investment capital to the Indiana job market. This bill is attractive to investors because there is a tax credit that is received over a period of seven years. The investor is responsible for investing capital in qualified community development areas, and is committed to keeping that money invested for seven years. They receive a tax credit after the first 2 years of capital investment at a rate of 7% for the 3rd investment year, and 8% for the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th years. The goal of this bill is to create jobs in these qualified areas and bring capital to communities that are struggling. 

The investments must be made before January 1, 2016 to be qualified as new markets investments. This bill sets a cap on the amount of qualified equity investments that can be approved by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in a given year to $10 million. The bill was amended to include a section on reporting for the IEDC. The IEDC will be responsible for reporting to the Budget Committee annually about the state of the investments. The bill has also been amended so that any new markets investor may not take any fees on the distributed funds for seven years. SB 521 was assigned to the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee and was voted on. It passed out of committee 7-3, and is headed to the Senate floor. It was scheduled for a second reading on February 14th, where the bill was ordered to engrossment. SB 521 was heard on Third Reading on February 18th, where the Senate Chamber voted and passed the bill 40-9. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives and has been assigned to the Commerce, Small Business, and Economic Development Committee. A hearing will be scheduled on the bill in the next couple of weeks, and legislators will have opportunities to amend the bill before it is voted on in committee.

Education

SB 465: Indiana Works Council (Author: Senator Robert Behning)

Authorizes the governor to designate one or more distinct geographic regions throughout Indiana, and establishes an Indiana works council (council) for each region. Requires each council to prepare and submit before November 1, 2013, a comprehensive evaluation of the career, technical, and vocational education opportunities available to high school students in its region. Provides that after December 31, 2013, each council may develop, subject to the approval of the Indiana state board of education, an alternative career, technical, or vocational educational curriculum for high school students in its region in order to offer those students opportunities to pursue internships and apprenticeships, learn from qualified instructors, and have a goal of: (1) earning an industry certification; (2) earning credits toward an associate degree; or (3) establishing a career pathway to a high wage, high demand job that is available in the region.

This Bill passed out of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee 8-0, was referred to the Senate and passed on the floor 49-0. SB 465 has now been referred to the House, and has been assigned to the Education committee. It will be up for a hearing in the next couple of weeks.

Biennial Budget

HB 1001: Biennial Budget (Author: Representative Tim Brown)

The House passed a budget on  party line vote, and the Senate Appropriations committee will take this bill up in the second half of session. A lot of its final form will depend on April revenue forecast, and the General Assembly is working hard to come up with compromises so that the budget is passed by April 29, 2013. TechPoint is particularity interested in the 21st Century research fund.

INDIANA 21ST CENTURY RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY FUND

General Fund: Total Operating Expense=  8,000,000 (2013-2014), 8,000,000 (2014-2015)

Indiana Twenty-First Century Research and Technology Fund (IC 5-28-16-2)

Total Operating Expense: 17,000,000 (2013-2014), 17,000,000 (2014-2015)

Of the above appropriation, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation may allocate up to $5,000,000 each year to support advancements in Indiana's life sciences industry. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation shall collaborate with the Indiana Applied Research Enterprise in distributing funds under this allocation.

Of the above appropriation, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation may allocate up to $5,000,000 each year to Indiana public research intensive campuses, defined by IC 21-7-13-29.5, in order to support research activities that may have an economic impact to the state. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation shall jointly develop policies and procedures regarding the allocation of state support for research activities by Indiana public research intensive campuses.

What's Next at the Indiana State House

The session will continue for the next eight weeks, with the bills going through their second assigned Chamber. Committees will begin meeting on Monday, March 4th and as the session continues we will provide updates.

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Langellier at (317) 275-2080 or mlangellier@techpoint.org or TechPoint's lobbyist, Mark Shublak at (317) 236-5981 or shublak@icemiller.com.

We look forward to providing you all the necessary information during this legislative session.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joshua Hall is editor of techpoint.org. He writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people & events. @joshua2349