INDIANAPOLIS – If Hoosiers are getting a $225 automatic taxpayer refund, it won’t come from House Bill 1001.
The Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy stripped the bill of its original language and replaced it with the language for Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3.
State Sen. Travis Holdman, the committee chair, said the reworked legislation had few changes from the original SB2 and SB3. The amendment passed in a 10-1 vote Wednesday. Committee members then advanced the amended legislation to the full Senate by the same margin after hearing remarks from several speakers.
Senate Bill 2 would establish the Hoosier Families First Fund, appropriating $45 million from the state general fund for fiscal year 2023.
The money can go to the Department of Child Services, Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana Department of Health, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to fund existing programs and new programs for certain purposes.
The original version passed 46-1 in the Senate last week. But the House Ways and Means Committee stripped SB2 language during a hearing Tuesday and essentially replaced it with HB 1001. The moves are sure to lead to negotiations between both chambers, Holdman indicated Wednesday.
Senate Bill 3 was the Senate’s version of an inflation relief plan. It didn’t include a direct $225 automatic taxpayer refund. Instead, the Senate version would cap the state gas tax at 29.5 cents and mandate a six-month sales tax holiday on utilities.
Holdman said the measure folded into HB 1001 has two key changes from the original. The gas tax measure would go into effect on Sept. 1 instead of “upon passage” for logistical purposes. The amended legislation also added heating oil to the utility exemptions for residential customers.
The moratorium already covered electrical energy, natural and artificial gas, water, steam and liquefied petroleum gas.
A few amendments failed during Wednesday’s hearing, including a proposed moratorium on utility rate hikes that was a direct response to Duke Energy’s request for another rate increase. A separate failed amendment included a cost-of-living adjustment for certain retirees, including members of the Public Employees Retirement Fund and the Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund.
Lawmakers planned to eliminate the sales tax on children’s diapers as part of the House’s plan. A proposed amendment to eliminate the sales tax on baby wipes, breast feeding items, children’s soap and feminine hygiene products failed in Wednesday’s committee hearing.
Holdman said some of the amendments could be part of negotiations with the House as lawmakers work to settle differences in legislation and their approaches to inflation relief.
“My guess is we’ll come up with a compromise between paying down some debt but also hopefully including the automatic taxpayer refund,” State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica), the author of the House bill, told reporters after Wednesday’s meeting. “I believe it sounds like it’s overwhelming that constituents want the refund.”