Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, left, and House Speaker Todd Huston, announced the special session for tax relief has been pushed to July 25 because of the addition of abortion legislation. (Photo by Monroe Bush for Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Indiana lawmakers announced Wednesday they will delay a reconvening of the General Assembly until late July, pushing back the governor’s proposed tax refund payments and allowing legislators more time to craft an expected plan to further restrict access to abortions.
Republican leadership in the House and Senate said state lawmakers plan to return to the Statehouse for a special legislative session on July 25, rather than previously scheduled on July 6.
House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said in a joint statement that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, legislative leaders are now anticipating a multi-week special session, rather than a one- or two-day meeting.
Bray and Huston said they worked with the governor to push back the start date to “minimize logistical issues.”
The Republican leaders said the General Assembly will consider both the tax refund proposal and “action to further protect life, and support new and expectant mothers” once they reconvene. Bray and Huston have signaled support for new restrictions — possibly even an outright ban on abortions — but lack details.
They are waiting for the dust to settle before they push their extreme agenda that includes a total ban on abortions.
– Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party
They additionally promised to vet bills “through the full legislative process,” including holding committee hearings and allowing public testimony.
“The Indiana GOP are scared because they’ve seen the protests and have heard from Hoosier women. They are waiting for the dust to settle before they push their extreme agenda that includes a total ban on abortions – even in cases of rape and incest,” said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party. “Only 17% of Hoosiers support this extreme policy, and Democrats are ready to hold them accountable for trying to throw Indiana back to the 1950’s.”
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his plan earlier this month to dip into the state’s growing budget surplus and send $225 in payments to taxpayers to provide inflation relief. To do so requires approval from the state legislature. He initially wanted that done by July 4.
Hoosier taxpayers began receiving $125 payments last month under Indiana’s automatic taxpayer refund law. If lawmakers approve his new plan, Holcomb said each eligible state resident would receive a combined total of about $350 in payments, with a married couple filing jointly receiving about $700.
But lawmakers only have until Aug. 14 to codify their plans. The special session will still technically begin on July 6 — as outlined in the governor’s proclamation. Once that clock begins ticking down, state law allows legislators to use up to 40 calendar days to complete their work.
The delay could mean taxpayers won’t see refund checks for several more months. Any new abortion laws could take effect as soon as the General Assembly closes out the special session, however.
Holcomb previously rejected calls from Democrats to suspend state gas taxes, saying that would be an inefficient way to help Hoosiers financially. On abortion, the governor doubled last week that he is “pro-life,” and that he expects lawmakers to “make progress in protecting the sanctity of life.”
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