The Indiana Senate and House chambers seem to be on opposite sides when it comes to proposals for funding social services and providing inflation relief to Hoosiers.
Just one day after a House committee stripped and replaced the Senate’s bill with their own version, Senators voted 10-1 to do the same to the House version Wednesday.
“There is no nefarious motive on our part to do anything but to keep the legislation moving forward,” said Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle. “We are in the midst of negotiating with the House on these topics.”
Holdamn, the author of Senate Bill 2, chaired the committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy, which voted on House Bill 1001. He also brought the amendment to replace the text of the House bill with his own bill.
Rep. Sharon Negele, the author of HB 1001, seemed optimistic that lawmakers would find a middle ground.
“My guess is we’ll come up with a compromise between paying down some debt but also, hopefully, including the automatic taxpayer refund,” Negele, R-Attica, said. “It’s overwhelming(ly clear) that constituents want the refund.”
Negele stressed the need to direct the proposed $58.5 million funding to specific programs, rather than the Senate’s approach of allowing agencies to decide who gets $45 million in various grants.
“On the Senate side, it wasn’t as targeted, whereas we were really concerned about making sure that the dollars went straight to a program that we knew could expand quickly,” she said. “It’s so critical to us that these dollars go straight into these programs.”
Democrats feel pushed out of discussion
Democrats pushed back in committee, urging Republicans to consider incorporating parts of the House proposal into the bill on inflation relief and social services, such as a repeal on the taxation of diapers.
Republicans denied all of the proposed amendments, with Holdman acknowledging the denials weren’t related to the policy but the discussions between chambers.
“I don’t necessarily oppose all of these ideas, but just from the standpoint of negotiating, we have to sort of clear the deck,” Holdman said. “They’re on my list and I just want you to know I’m doing my best to get some of these things in agreement with the House.”
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, cast the sole ‘no’ vote on the bill, saying the Democrats would no longer have a say in the process if it went to conference committee.
“We, the minority, will not be involved in those negotiations – at least, I assume we won’t,” Lanane said. “I’d like to be pleasantly surprised that we would be meaningfully involved as it goes along but at this point in time I don’t see that happening.”
Once the bills pass Friday, they will likely go to a conference committee sometime next week and meetings will be staffed by Republican leadership and bill authors.
Many who testified had previously spoken in favor of the bills’ enhanced funding for social services program, designed to offset an anticipated increased need following an abortion ban. Some tailored their appeals in light of the back-and-forth between chambers on inflation relief.
“I’d like to ask you to consider bringing back the tax refund,” Angela Espada, the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, said. “As a matter of fairness and getting it to those that need it most.”