State House Update 1/19/2018


State House Update 1/19/2018

  While the temperature outside continues to drop, the action is heating up in the Indiana State House as the Indiana General Assembly continues to work on the current issues facing the state. 

  Although only three weeks into the 2018 session, we’re nearly a third of the way through, as this year is a non-budget year which requires the General Assembly to finish their work by March 14th.

Utility Industry Specific Bills:

  Both the House and Senate committees that consider utility industry specific bills have met once so far this year.

  The House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee met on Wednesday hearing six bills, but won’t vote on any of the bills until they meet next week. One bill of note is House Bill 1267, authored by Representative Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso). HB 1267 would create a water infrastructure taskforce that would study drinking water systems, wastewater management systems and storm water management systems and develop a long-term plan for addressing the water needs of Indiana.

  The Senate Utilities Committee convened yesterday hearing three bills, however they only voted on one of them. Senate Bill 156, authored by Senator Erin Houchin (R-Salem), passed the committee 7-0. SB 156 aims to update and streamline governance procedures for rural electric and rural telephone cooperatives.

Miscellaneous Bills of Note Being Considered:

Sunday Alcohol Sales and Cold Beer Laws:

  House and Senate committees considered legislation that would impact how and when Hoosiers can purchase alcohol.

  A measure to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays passed the Senate Public Policy Committee by a unanimous vote and will now be considered by the entire Senate for passage. A similar bill in the House Public Policy Committee also passed and will be considered by the full House of Representatives.

  The same cannot be said regarding a bill that would allow groceries and convenient stores to sell cold carryout beer.  The Senate Public Policy Committee voted 9-1 in opposition of the measure, likely ending the effort to allow cold beer sales for groceries and convenient stores in 2018.

Ball State University Could Run Muncie Public Schools:

  House Bill 1315, authored by Representative Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), a large bill focusing on school financial management would allow Ball State University to take control of financially distressed Muncie Public Schools. Ball State University has some history running schools other than their own, as they were one of the first groups in the state to oversee charter schools. HB 1315 would give distressed school corporations other options to keep their doors open.

  HB 1315 was introduced in the House Ways and Means Committee, but hasn’t been scheduled for a vote yet.

Greater Oversight on Opioid Prescriptions:

  Senate Bill 221, authored by Senator Erin Houchin (R-Salem) would require a doctor to search Indiana’s Prescription Drug Monitoring program, better known as INSPECT to see a patient's prescription history with opioids. The legislation hopes to find out if a patient is “doctor shopping” to gain access to more opioids or if a patient is using their prescribed medication faster than normal. Other states have enlisted similar laws to help combat the opioid problem.

  Senate Bill 221 passed the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee by a unanimous vote and will now be considered by the entire Senate for passage.

  The pace will only pick up in the coming weeks for the Indiana General Assembly. Stay tuned for more updates.


Eric Augustus

Executive Director, IUSA