Birth control access and tax deductions bills progress through Statehouse

Your roundup on all the action also includes movement on anti-ESG and voting-limiting proposals

By: and - February 21, 2023 6:30 am

The Indiana House passed a bill widening access to hormonal birth control, with faith-based exceptions. (Getty Images)

A Republican-backed bill that would make it easier for Hoosiers to access birth control advanced 86-12 from the House on Monday and now heads to the Senate.

House Bill 1568, authored by Rep. Elizabeth Rowray, R-Yorktown, would allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control to people 18 and older without an appointment. That includes contraceptive patches, as well as birth control pills and rings.

The measure would require additional training for pharmacists, who would also provide birth control-seekers with a self-screening risk assessment tool and referrals to their primary care providers for follow-up.

Rep. Rita Fleming (Photo from Indiana House Democrats)

“This is about access to birth control in a safe, responsible manner for women,” said Democratic Rep. Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville, a retired OB-GYN and bill co-author. “The implications down the road are huge.”

She added that women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to have no or limited prenatal care. Their children are more likely to suffer intellectual and health difficulties, as a result.

“It is safe. Pharmacies are far more convenient for women. They’re often open on weekends, holidays, evenings — when most women are working,” Fleming said. “It’s not uncommon at all for us now to seek the convenience of a pharmacy when we want an immunization. Let’s make it as convenient for women to get birth control.”

Business benefits in time for tax season

Senate Bill 2, which lowers total tax payments for some businesses, became one of the first bills to finish its journey through the Statehouse.

The bipartisan-supported bill would let certain pass-through entities, like limited-liability corporations and S Corporations, deduct all state tax payments on their federal tax returns. It’s Indiana’s workaround to a cap.

Under federal law, individual taxpayers can get a federal tax deduction for the money they pay in state taxes, up to $10,000. But for companies that pay corporate tax, there’s no such cap on deducting state tax payments.

Rep. Craig Snow, the Republican author, said businesses could save up to $112 million on federal taxes, while costing the state itself no money.

House lawmakers passed the bill unanimously Monday, while Senators passed it unanimously earlier this month. Both chambers leaders have already signed it, so it now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Anti-ESG bill passes muster

One of two bills seeking to shut down public pension involvement in a controversial investment framework passed out of its home chamber on Monday.

Some say that investing using environmental, social and corporate governmental factors is simple risk-management, while others say it threatens returns and discriminates against certain businesses.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle. (Photo from Indiana Senate Republicans.)

Senate Bill 292 codifies a finances-first investment policy already adopted internally by the Indiana Public Retirement System, known as INPRS. It also introduces new guidelines and reporting requirements for proxy votes, which are opportunities for shareholders to influence an entity’s management.

The bill from Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, could saddle INPRS with some more administrative workload and costs, according to an updated fiscal analysis.

But that pales in comparison with the $670 million-a-year loss in returns associated with a more aggressive version of the bill in the House. That bill has stalled as lawmakers come up with changes to reduce the fiscal impact.

Senators, meanwhile, passed their version 40-7.

Voting rights taken away

Anyone convicted of a felony vote fraud offense wouldn’t be able to cast a ballot for 10 years under a bill passed 73-24 by the Indiana House Monday.

Last week Republicans rejected an amendment to House Bill 1116 that would have added treason, insurrection or rebellion and seditious conspiracy to the bill.

Both sides agree that voter fraud cases are very rare and the provision likely won’t be used often. It would only impact crimes committed after June 30.

Hoosiers already can’t vote while incarcerated.

Six Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill while two Republicans voted against it.

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Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

Leslie covers state government for the Indiana Capital Chronicle with emphases on elections, infrastructure and transportation. She previously covered city-county government for the Indianapolis Business Journal. She has also reported on local, national and international news for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and more. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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