A bill headed to the governor’s desk is meant to boost family services for pregnant Hoosiers and children as Republicans are poised to largely ban abortion.
After two weeks of back and forth with the House, senators quickly signed off Friday on the inflation relief and family supports package.
The compromise with the House includes $200 checks to eligible Hoosiers. The House had hoped to send residents $250 checks but the Senate was largely opposed to sending any direct payments.
Hoosiers who filed a state tax return last year will receive the money via a direct payment. If you didn’t file a tax return in 2021 – and receive Social Security benefits this year – you will be able to file a tax return in 2023 and receive the $200 as a tax credit.
Few lawmakers spoke in unqualified support of the bill Friday. Instead, legislators on both sides of the aisle discussed concerns with the measure.
Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) said the services provided by the bill were “window dressing” for lawmakers taking the reproductive rights of Hoosiers.
“I guess it does some good,” he said. “It’s better than a poke in the eye, I guess.”
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Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) worried that the measure did not include funding for contraceptives.
“I’m telling you right now you can’t reduce the number of abortions without providing contraceptives,” she said.
In addition to the $200 checks, the relief package also offers some $74 million for various programs for pregnant people and children, as well as sales tax exemptions on children’s diapers.
The bill also increases the adoption tax credit from $1,000 to $2,500 per child.
Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) said that the $2 million the bill provides to Real Alternatives, a crisis pregnancy center group, posed a major problem. She argued that many of the services offered by the organization do not include medically licensed care, leading to danger for pregnant people.
“This is the agency – Real Alternatives – that we give $2 million in this bill. An agency that admits they don’t know if their contracted providers are properly licensed,” Yoder said.
Some of the Senate’s original inflation relief measures were also included in the final version of the legislation. If Indiana collects enough money in 2023, $1 billion will be used to pay down debt in a state teacher pension fund.
The bill also includes the Senate’s temporary freeze on state sales tax on gasoline, capping the tax at 29.5 cents per gallon until June 30, 2023. Indiana’s current rate is already just below that level and unlikely to increase unless there’s another spike in prices at the pump.
In a statement Thursday night, Gov. Eric Holcomb expressed his support for the work legislators have done during the special session and said he looked forward to signing SB 2 “as soon as it arrives at my desk.”