INDIANAPOLIS – As the Indiana General Assembly continues its special session this week, two competing inflation relief bills are making their way through the House and Senate.
The two chambers are taking different approaches to providing economic relief for Hoosiers grappling with inflation and high gas prices.
Here’s where things stand heading into the final two weeks of the special session.
Senate passes SB3 during rare Saturday session
The Indiana Senate met Saturday to discuss the abortion bill and its economic relief plan. The abortion bill passed in a close 26-20 vote.
Lawmakers then spent about 30 minutes discussing their economic relief plan, which passed in a 40-4 vote on its third reading.
Senate Bill 3 differs significantly from the House version, which more closely mirrors the plan proposed by Gov. Holcomb.
The Senate plan includes no direct payment to Hoosiers. Instead, it would suspend the sales tax on residential utilities for six billing cycles. The measure would also cap the sales tax on gasoline at 29.5 cents a gallon.
Advocates of the plan suggested it would be logistically easier for the state to pull off and provide relief to Hoosiers who were left out of the Automatic Taxpayer Refund.
One approved amendment to the measure specified which types of energy the tax holiday would cover (electrical energy, natural and artificial gas, water, steam, and liquefied petroleum gas) while a second clarified some language about monthly billing cycles.
Failed amendments included a disbursement of $1 billion to Indiana schools and a call to distribute $400 in direct payments to lower-income Hoosiers and a direct payment of $225 to Hoosiers making between $40,000 and $125,000 a year.
Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, it heads to the House.
House version passes with overwhelming support
The House’s version of an inflation relief bill diverges greatly from the Senate’s. It doesn’t include a sales tax break on utilities or cap the gas tax.
Instead, lawmakers in the House approved a measure that includes a $225 taxpayer refund. The money would come from the state surplus.
Gov. Eric Holcomb outlined a similar plan in June. It was the original reason he called a special session.
Lawmakers proposed dozens of amendments to House Bill 1001 during a hearing last week and passed six of them; most involved family planning. The House plan would also eliminate sales tax on diapers.
The payments would be expanded to include Hoosiers who didn’t file a tax return; those individuals would have to file an affidavit to claim the money.
Officials with Indiana’s Office of Management and Budget expressed concerns about the logistics of a new round of tax refunds, telling lawmakers it could cost up to $3.4 million to process and send them. They’re especially concerned with vetting the additional Hoosiers who would be eligible.
The measure passed 93-2 on its third reading Friday. It now heads to the Senate and has been referred to Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.
What about the Automatic Taxpayer Refund?
The state continues to process the original round of Automatic Taxpayer Refund payments via direct deposit. The payments include $125 for individual taxpayers and $250 for married couples filing jointly.
Checks have not yet been mailed to taxpayers who didn’t receive their money via direct deposit. Those checks are expected to go out in August, although it’s possible they could be delayed depending on where the General Assembly settles on inflation relief.
Holcomb said last month that the paper supply required to send the checks had been delayed; checks were originally projected to be mailed in July.
The General Assembly has until August 14 to wrap up its special session.