Legislators are taking action today on bills that cover some of the biggest issues facing the 2016 General Assembly. The House is set to vote on House Bill 1001, which deals with long-term infrastructure spending and the Senate will consider more amendments to a much-debated bill to expand civil protections with an eye toward religious liberty. The House has already unanimously approved HB 1110, which calls for returning $550 million in local option income tax reserves to nearly every county for projects such as road and bridge work.
The local funding bill’s author, Todd Huston (R-37), says the bulk of the funding would come up front from current reserves. The remainder, an estimated $110 million, would be distributed over the next four years. Currently, the state can only redistribute the funding collected from the local option income tax when the state-controlled trust exceeds 50 percent of the reserve. Under HB 1110, it would trigger the state to return the funds locally at 15 percent. The bill now heads to the Senate.
House Bill 1001 is a massive funding bill for road and bridge improvements that is considered by Republicans to be the top priority of the session. It’s authored by Roads and Transportation Committee Chair Ed Soliday (R-4) and would be funded, in part, by increased cigarette tax and it would also explore potential tolling along three of state’s biggest interstates, I-65, I-70 and I-80/94.
Senate Bill 344 calls for protections for sexual orientation and for those who are active-duty military. Several amendments include provisions to safeguard discrimination against sexual identity. It also offers exemptions for Hoosiers with religious objections.
Prior to the vote this morning, author Todd Huston (R-37) outlined how much many of the counties would receive if the bill is passed.