Senate follows House, refuses to budge over automatic taxpayer refund
A Senate committee refused to budge Wednesday over its vision for inflation relief and financial supports for pregnant people and families.
Lawmakers in the Senate gutted the language of the House’s inflation and family supports bill and inserted the language of its own SB 2 and SB 3. The move happened almost immediately after a presentation from the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica).
The House and Senate have competing visions on whether or not to send a check to eligible Hoosiers and how to provide support for children, pregnant people and families. Lawmakers in the Senate raised concerns that the checks could contribute to inflation, and instead proposed a temporary suspension of sales taxes on both utility bills and gasoline.
The committee’s move is nearly identical to what took place in the House Tuesday, with the House committee adding the language of its bill into SB 2 and deciding not to hear SB 3.
Committee Chair Travis Holdman (R-Markle) said negotiations with the House are ongoing.
“There is no nefarious motive on our part to do anything but to keep the legislation moving forward,” he said.
There were some minor changes to the versions of SB 2 and SB 3 inserted into HB 1001. Specifically, an amended version SB 3 would set an effective date for freezing the state gasoline tax for Sept. 1. The changes also include adding heating oil to a sales tax utility exemption.
READ MORE: House, Senate move towards 'standoff' over taxpayer refund
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Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) said as a member of the Democratic minority he can’t participate in those negotiations.
“So that takes away my voice of being able to say there are constituents interested in the relief checks proposal,” he said.
The Senate committee heard a handful of amendments that attempted to re-insert some family supports into the gutted House bill.
Those amendments were rejected. Holdman said it wasn’t because he opposed them outright, but because it was important to their negotiating position with the House.
“I don’t necessarily oppose all of these ideas,” he said, “But from a point of negotiating, we had to clear the deck to get us to a point where we could build back.”
Holdman said a number of the programs in HB 1001 are currently part of negotiations between the House and Senate.
Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee passed the bill and it now heads to the full Senate. For the measure to become law, the Senate and House versions will eventually have to agree.
Speaking with reporters after the committee, Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) was asked when the Senate and House might reach an agreement.
“We’re all hoping to be able to go home by Friday,” she said.
A reporter asked, “Does that seem a little optimistic?”
“I hope not,” said Negele, and laughed.
Contact reporter Violet at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen. Follow WBAA's Ben Thorp at @sad_radio_lad on Twitter.