House panel strips major parts of Senate workforce development bill

Indiana legislators continued Tuesday to make changes to the state’s convoluted workforce development system, but much work remains to be done this session before agreement comes on a new approach.

The House Ways and Means committee on Tuesday made big changes before unanimously passing Senate Bill 50workforce development legislation that the Senate had previously passed.

The committee deleted language in the bill that would have created a secretary of workforce training appointed by the governor, an employee relocation tax credit, employer training tax credits and a a so-called “real world career readiness program,” and other tenets.

Instead, the committee created a new 17-member group, called the governor’s workforce cabinet, to develop a “comprehensive career navigation and coaching system” for the state. It requires high schools to participate in the program. A progress report is due by July 1, and recommendations for implementation of the system are due by October.

Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, who authored the amendment, did not immediately reply to IBJ's request for comment about the bill's substantive changes. The bill’s author, Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, was not available to comment on the changes, according to his spokesman.

The bill heads to the full House for further amendments and votes. But legislative leaders have acknowledged that workforce development legislation—which lawmakers called their top priority this year—will likely go down to the wire, and much of the tough decisions will likely be made next year when lawmakers write the budget.

Still this session, SB 50 and House Bill 1002, the House’s effort, will have to be reconciled. HB 1002 will go through the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 1.

Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, who has been skeptical of some of the workforce development efforts, said "the good news, I guess, is at least this bill is much more limited than Senate Bill 50 [was], and therefore the ability of the two things coming together is being enhanced.”

“The majority is being realistic about how broad their ambitions were and how inconsistent they were with each other,” Delaney said.

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