>> The Indiana General Assembly wrapped up week six of its current state House session a number of bill amendments were heard as measures are at the cusp of switching from House to Senate or vice versa.
>> Next Tuesday is the committee report deadline for the House.
The Senate deadline follows next Thursday.
One House approved measure moving to the Senate would phase in a complete state income tax exemption for military pay earned by active duty members and coauthor of that bill is with us tonight and also with us is the author of a proposal to allow a credit against an employer's state tax liability if the employer has adopted a health reimbursed arrangement in lieu of a traditional employer provided health plan.
Meanwhile, the House courts and Criminal Code Committee held a hearing on a marijuana decriminalization bill for the first time on Wednesday.
And while no vote is expected, the hearing was seen by committee chair Representative Wendy McNamara as a conversation starter on the issue.
What we're about to start our own conversation on the legislative work at the state House so far on this week's PrimeTime.
>> Good evening.
Conversations with us today is 22nd District Republican State Representative Craig Snow and 41st District Republican State Representative and Assistant Majority Floor Leader Denny.
And we invite you to join the conversation any time with your comments or questions.
Just call the number that you see on the screen as we widen out and you get to see us all at the same time.
Representative Snowe, Representative Craig and Denny and thank you gentlemen very much for being here.
We appreciate it.
>> Thank you for having us.
It's always a pleasure.
Bruce , you know, I was realizing week six and then a couple of weeks we're going to be at the midpoint of this session.
>> So let me ask you how have let's round up and see how these first two months been for you so far, sir?
>> Fast and Furious is what I call it.
It seems like every week exactly a month and a lot of information to absorb and read and study lots of meetings.
But you know, I think we're moving ahead pretty well and on some pretty good bill and I'm pretty excited about some of the ones I've been working on.
So yeah, we've got a couple more weeks and then we take a break and come back at it with the Senate bills.
>> And how about you, sir?
Oh I I enjoy it really the long session gives you a little bit more time but obviously we always end up with about a thousand bills.
The Senate has over 400 and the House has over 600 and that's a significant number of bills to go through now they're not always heard but the ones that are typically are amended and lots of conversation and hopefully by the time we distill everything out we come up with something that's not only workable but as better for the residents of the state of Indiana.
>> Well, it was looking at priority bills in both chambers for Senate and House and right behind the budget bill and on and a measure addressing some education and workforce matters are two bills that look to lower health care costs for employers and for patients .
Craig, you authored a bill that would create tax credits for companies that adopt health reimbursement arrangements.
As we said in the open, this is otherwise known as House Bill Tenno three.
Tell me a little more about it.
>> Yeah, so Teno three is really designed to try to lower health care costs and what this bill will do is give a tax incentive to employers that have zero to 50 employees and the idea behind it is to create more competition in the marketplace.
>> What we're wanting to do is move employees from traditional types of insurance to an HRA and we think that by incentivizing employers to do this that will give these employees a better choice for their plan based on their family situations and whatnot because there's so many different plans available to them within the HRA market.
So that's really the impetus behind that.
And then the other component of Teno three is moving to a value based care plan program for some of these providers.
>> So it's a couple of different mechanism mechanisms in the bill but the one focus is around tax credit for the employers that have zero to 50 employees and usually coverage can be very challenging if you had depending upon workforce size and things of this nature.
Denny, you're you're following some of these these priority pieces of legislation which are your your sense of of ten or three at this point because behind it is tenno for yet another companion Bill and any of the bills that have double zero in them are priority bills.
That means that we're pretty much going to give that a lot of consideration and what we've heard from numerous perspective businesses to come the state of Indiana has is that they like our tax structure.
They like a lot of things but our health care costs are a little high and most businesses that's a significant part of running a business, taking care of their employees and health care costs.
So anything that we can do to kind of moderate that to get the health care costs more in line with maybe surrounding states is going to be a benefit to us.
We usually rank in the top five in the Midwest as far as business climate and that's I would think one of the biggest negatives is the cost of health care and how Indiana ranks as far as health care among the other states.
So it's a big job but if we can cure that, it's going to be even better for the state of Indiana.
>> I know we have middle health is our number one concern on the Senate side with HB one thinking about HB said that regarding noncoms heat agreements I think that's a part of what's intended for along with prohibiting let's see there were several parts of Tenno four that we're connecting barring some hospitals from entering into those non compete agreements transparency, pricing revenue is it seems taken together.
>> We're looking to put more light on the way health care is offered and and the the diversity of those offerings.
>> Yeah, some of the studies that I've studied this session is really focusing on how to lower health care costs by way of looking at the insurance industry and the hospital industry and trying to figure out what we can do to with both of those industries coming to the table and figuring out what we can do to lower the health care cost for their employers and more importantly the employees that just like Danny mentioned earlier, we are between depending on what studies you read or the fourth or fifth highest costing state when it comes to health care and we just feel like there's something need to be done and that's what we're we're putting a lot of time on 04 and 05 on before the broadcast.
>> You're sharing about your feelings regarding non compete agreements into the direction that these pieces of legislation may may move the state in a way that seems more beneficial for the provider.
In fact, when I was recruited to come back to Indiana I was an altar and I came back I had a non compete agreement which basically meant that for the first five years it's kind of like get invested you needed to stay with the one practice even if things go sour and if it doesn't work out usually at a time and distance regulation.
So you'd have to be maybe 50 or 100 miles away and for so long and let's face it that one we need more health care providers in Indiana was a look across the nation as a Mecca.
It's not like a Florida or someplace and people would naturally gravitate there.
We get people to come here.
We want them to stay.
So if something doesn't quite work out and agreement we don't want them to have to depart and go elsewhere.
Let's make sure it's a workable solution because competition also drives prices down.
>> Well, it right now where is Teno three on the approval path of the world?
So we passed it out of committee Wednesday and it'll go to Ways and me because there is that tax credit component so there's a fiscal to it the cap that these employers can get is up to ten million as a whole so that type of a business is you know there's thousands of businesses that have zero to 50 employees and those are the ones that are struggling the most to provide health care.
And with that tax incentive we're hoping that they will engage in that offering if you will.
But that's why the next step is going to ways means and then hopefully we'll get a path out of there to second possibly third day or the following Monday and then your accomplishment among many within this session is news of a bill that is working its way I believe over to the Senate.
Ten thirty four the idea along with colleague Representative Babbitt from this region being able to work on a complete phase in state income tax exemption for military pay earned by active duty personnel .
I experienced that myself.
I was stationed in my time in the military and six years both the Army and Air Force and eight different states and several of them have no income tax and you can use that as a great tool our home of record in Texas and Florida and we're obviously to them and I'd been in both so came back to Indiana for some additional training in my field in the Donna Summer.
You know, Specialist and I was in Indianapolis.
I could have claimed either of those states and not paid any state income tax even though Indiana is fairly low and going lower.
But you know, even if it's low, nothing is no income tax to a lot of people as something that they would prefer.
So we're phasing that out.
So when I do get assigned here that they realize are not paying tax on that we want to encourage them when they separate to stay in Indiana.
Multiple reasons why we still get the seven percent sales tax from them.
You're going to miss out maybe on the three percent income tax one they stayed their skill sets usually or something we really need and that job may out of the military may pay two or three weeks what they get paid in military that money would be taxable and the retirement pay might not be but you're still getting seven percent on these state sales tax whenever they purchase anything.
>> So we enter our workforce and actually generate more income and people that run that through we had our own business.
We had twenty five employees and I can tell you that a lot of things with a small upfront expense ended up paying your dividends in the end and that's what we're trying to do be smart in Indiana.
That's why we have a surplus.
That's why I think we're the envy of a lot of states.
We can fix this health care issue and kind of encourage some of our veterans their skill sets to stay here or a much better position and stay with the idea of veterans in the military.
You and Representative Abbott have also been working on a measure to designate four days a year as free hunting days for critically disabled veterans and youth hunters.
>> Tell me about the background of that.
Well, a lot of states and again Indiana's not one of them they give a lot of benefits to veterans.
I have a winter spot that I go to a condo in Florida and one hundred and eighty six state parks down there as being a veteran I can get in any of them and a lot of them have reduced or no fees for hunting this hunting and fishing.
No, this isn't every day of the year it's like sit select for days and a lot of these disabled veterans are going to have trouble getting out more than that.
But it's more or less a thank you and for a job well done and it's also giving the impression which we need to do to veterans that they're welcome here.
We want them here.
We want them to retire here and that's probably overdue.
I mean you probably know the history of representative here but their Gold Star family lost a son in Iraq and he's doing a lot of things for veterans.
And as I said, I had served back during the Vietnam War and a little bit after that in Fort for so veterans are near and dear to my heart.
You by the way, we are live in studio tonight with State Representative Denise Instict, Representative Craig Snow here on prime time.
You see the phone number on the screen if you'd like to join us with a question or comment.
I was noting that it does seem Ways and Means Committee is now the magnet for bills that come from a breadth of variety.
Detny points of which you are a member.
And I was thinking not just of of ten or three but there's also ten or two this is the workforce education workforce Bill to provide more learning opportunities Work-Based to students while in high school.
Also a proposal to have Indiana's pension system divest from funds that used non-financial investment criteria.
>> So this is more than just but budget.
>> What is life like in the House Ways and Means Committee with all that will you you are sitting in a meeting pretty much all day seems like but it's any bill has a fiscal over I think at fifty thousand dollars get recommitted to ways and means if it get passed to that point.
So before it can go to Second Amendment we have to hear it in ways and means and so we're addressing all of the bills like Denny said, you know, we've got six of them and I would say given the situation that we have with extra money in our state, a surplus while that's a wonderful thing, it also creates a little bit of a traffic jam and ways and means because most bills are asking for money and so we get to work on bills and those committees and you mentioned the Senate health bill Tenno to I really like that bill and part of it is because my career started in a co-op program when I was a senior in high school I was able to go to school half day and work the other half which is really all I needed to hear half a day of school.
But the other half a day I got to work at Zemmour, one of our orthopedic companies in Kosciusko County and Warshel there.
And so for me it was my start into a career that I stayed at them for a number of years and then transitioned to the other orthopedic company Dipu but I, I I'm really thankful for the opportunity as a you know an 18 year old or so to be able to go to work and begin a career and I think that if we can make those opportunities for more and more students through Tenno too I think it's a wonderful bill and I think that you know it'll do a lot of good for Indiana going forward in the workforce.
>> What for both of you what is your sense of Tenno late with the concern for the criteria used for pension investments and then get a study coming out here of late suggesting what kind of economic impact on the pension funds approach seems like that might reveal or the lack of return on on the dollar.
It sounds like a push me pull you kind of situation.
From what I know about it the my concern is the scoring of ESG and what that could mean to to smaller businesses.
>> You know from what I understand it could be difficult to get insurance can be difficult to get finance for the needs of a business operation and you know to me that I want to say antibusiness but it doesn't in some way that just really hurt the business community from being able to invest and grow if they hit a setback because of a scoring.
And I'm still waiting to kind of understand who does the scoring and what are the criteria and those types of things.
Last week I think it was it came out that the the fiscal on that was in the billions of dollars and with the entire plan and so again I'm not one hundred percent sure on what that means but we're we'll be working on that this week for sure.
>> Yeah, I think Craig's glossing over a lot of things here.
It's a part time legislature which we are allows us to bring actual experts in to the legislature in their area and he's so knowledgeable in this area that he and others like him in ER give Indiana a big advantage.
A lot of states have full time legislators so it becomes their job in Indiana the real job for most people wasn't in the legislature was in what we call the real world and he's got background in there as I do in health care and veterans and that's what makes it work so well in Indiana.
>> So he's talking about things that I could barely get a grasp on other than the pension plan we had for our employees.
And I just want to tell that it was a godsend for us when he's he's only in a second term down there and I hope he has the desire to stay much longer because he's got a lot of what we need and he gets paid miserably for take it the ways and means it sounds like you're sure it's a logical step.
Let's go to the phones and and welcome I believe it's Kate to the program.
>> Go ahead with your question or comment please.
Well, Carol Carol, I'm so sorry.
>> No, that's that's fine.
And I I have been really appalled this week at the legislation towards schools and education, the lack of respect for the teachers and a job that they do which is extremely hard.
And I I previously taught at Carroll High School.
I taught at some middle school and I know this area I've taught in so many schools and those teachers worked their hearts out and it just doesn't seem that the legislature realizes that these people are precious and they have lives and they have children and they are not getting the respect from the community that they should get.
For example, they're giving money to non public schools instead of the public schools without oversight I that they're draining the funds from the public schools there.
They want to be able to prosecute librarians, history teachers.
Oh my gosh.
I mean, you know how much work goes into working with a hundred and fifty students a day and getting a lesson so that they're exciting and interesting and and getting the kids to really want to come to school and to learn I yet you know, now they have this threat over them just this week gun training for teachers.
Yeah but we're going to have guns in our schools.
Oh I can't believe it and paying people to homeschool their kids it's just I I it just I shake my head I just shake my head and teaching of course for nonpublic school for people to send their children to non public schools.
It just seems like everything that comes up with the legislation is on this side of working against the public teachers and all the people that are just doing their absolute best and love the kids with all their hearts.
So here here I am.
I just couldn't believe it this week there was just one story after another.
>> Well, we appreciate your your call and comments and I'm going to literally pass the baton right over to our guests and have them respond and Representative Snow, go ahead.
>> Well, thank you for calling in.
Yeah, there's been a lot of activity this past week on some of these bills relating to schools.
I will say that on on yesterday it was we had a hearing on the not a hearing but we had a presentation on the budget coming up and the budget budget is out there on our website and you can look at it and there is some increases substantially increases for schools and yes, you are correct there are some increases for charter schools and different kinds of schools, not just public schools but public school will also see an increase as well.
So we're working hard.
We recognize teachers are incredibly valuable.
My wife taught for many years she taught kindergarten and of course I'm you know, I'm obviously biased toward teachers.
I think they do a wonderful job .
We want to continue to help increase their pay and give them the resources they need to do a great job for our kids.
>> Where is it?
Yeah, so the biggest part of our budget is typically nearly 50 percent is for K through 12 and no last budget.
I think we typically the budget called for about billion and what's some of the additional money we're able to garner because Indiana was doing so well we put an additional four to six billion into that.
So a lot of money was directed.
Also charter schools are public schools and I think initially they got off in the wrong step and now they have typically Ball State University running them and their scores and everything else have been better.
But it's also about parents choice and a lot of the parents have expressed to us that they feel like they should have a choice now understand that I believe the public school system gets ninety three percent of the funding and has a ninety two percent of the students so they're actually getting more the voucher students don't get tax dollars that local tax dollars and a lot of the federal funding so they may garner maybe 50 percent of what would be available to a student going to a public school system because the state doesn't supply all the money and typically sixty 60 65 percent now another maybe a third of that depending on your local tax rate can come from the locals.
It was designed to be that way in federal government throws more money into it and that's where you end up with ten, eleven twelve thousand dollars a student we do much better than Baltimore did has done with thirty two thousand a student and they got twenty three schools where no students passed the math portion.
I understand the sacrifices the teachers my brother my daughter in law my sister in law are teachers.
I actually was a teacher while I was a student with all my twenty five years of education.
I understand it everybody's their idea how it should go.
The courts have ruled in the case of vouchers that money goes to the parents and they can spend it any way they want to.
So there is a lot of things that going on here in I think a myriad of questions and answers and a lot of times people you know, they get part of it and I don't get other parts.
I've been down there several years and there's a few things that I'm still wondering just exactly how it works.
But Indiana's improving leave it at that.
>> And with our topic of education, I'm afraid our homework may well be to invite you both back so that we can hear more about the legislation that you were involved with.
If you can believe it, our half hour has gone by like a half a minute and we are very grateful for you all for watching and calling and participating.
Our guests this evening have been 22nd District Republican Representative Greg Snowe, the 41st District Republican state representative.
Then he sent and I'm receipts for all of us with prime time.
Thank you so much for watching.
Take care as he gets here tonight