Guide to the 2017 Legislative Session

Welcome to the 11th edition of Family Voices Indiana’s Guide to the Legislative Session.

The Indiana General Assembly is preparing for the 2017 legislative session that will begin on January 3 and must end no later than April 29.  This session is a “long session” where lawmakers will decide the state’s next two-year budget which is typically about $30 billion. Legislators will make tough funding decisions on state government services, including education, infrastructure and public safety.

Links to help you follow are below:

Indiana General Assembly

Senate Committee Chairs and House Committee Chairs


Standing Committee Rosters

Senate Committee Calendar

House Committee Calendar

This session will provide many opportunities for families to be involved, share your experience, and build relationships with legislators that will impact current and future decisions. This guide is intended to be a reference issue; in it you will find information on how a bill becomes a law, definitions and translations of acronyms and information on the House and Senate leadership. We encourage you to contact your legislators, make the effort to introduce yourself, share your perspective and continue to build a relationship.

Watch FV Indiana and other sources for action alerts as the session progresses.

If you have information about the session to share please call us at 844 F2F INFO or email

Hot Topics for 2017 (we will update these, as needed, as the session progresses)

State school assessments

State funded Pre-Kindergarten

Any federal changes to the ACA, Medicaid, CHIP or Medicare may results in significant new state legislation and budget changes.  It will be important for Hoosiers to follow these issues at both the state and federal level.

Other bills of interest:

SB 3 Paid Personal Leave

SB 15 Hemp Oil Registry for Treatment of Epilepsy

SB 34 Background Checks for School Employees

SB 52 Crisis Intervention Team Grant Program and Fund for Law Enforcement

SB 61 School Resource Officers and Seclusion/Restraint Issues

SB 63 Community Mental Health Center Telemedicine Pilot

SB 69 Study of drug pricing and access

List of current bills:

Many community organizations host “Third House” or “Meet Your Legislator” events throughout the legislative session. These events provide an opportunity for constituents to hear about the latest from the Statehouse and to ask questions. You can find a calendar that lists those events here:


How a Bill Becomes Law

Legislation 101

Any legislator in either chamber (House or Senate) can initiate a bill on any matter. The Indiana Constitution provides that all appropriations and revenue-raising bills MUST originate in the House. To introduce a bill, a member files it with the Clerk. The bill is first read to the chamber, at which time each member has a printed copy to study. After the first reading, the bill is assigned to a committee. On the next legislative day, the bill is read for the second time so it will be ready for action when it comes out of the committee. Much of the “work” on a bill comes in the committee. Members of key committees, and particularly committee chairs, can be very influential in modifying the language of a proposed bill and determining whether or not it advances to a vote by the full house. Amendments (changes in the original bill) or even complete bill substitutions may be offered by the committee that studies the bill or by a member from the floor. Sometimes there may be several versions of one bill before the committee can agree. If a committee reports favorably on a bill (a majority of the committee votes for it), it is returned to the full house for a third reading and possibly further debate. Most bills passed out of committee are passed by the full house, but they may be altered, sometimes dramatically, or perhaps not voted upon at all.

Parliamentary maneuvers are sometimes very confusing to spectators, but these rules help to maintain order. Sometimes a bill’s opponents can use parliamentary procedures to block a vote on a bill they cannot defeat or amend to their liking. Assuming that a bill survives such parliamentary maneuvers, the vote is taken. If a measure receives a majority of votes, it is passed and sent to the other chamber for consideration and goes through the whole process again. The second chamber can amend the bill, pass it as is or defeat it. If the legislation is amended, it is returned for consideration by the originating chamber. When the House and Senate disagree about amended portions, the presiding officers of each body appoint members to a conference committee which tries to find an acceptable compromise which must be approved in identical form by a majority of both houses. If the second chamber passes the bill without any changes, it is sent to the Governor, who can sign it or veto it. If he signs it, it becomes law; if he vetoes it, the bill “dies” and would have to be reintroduced another year unless the veto is overridden by the legislature, which is rare.

All bills vetoed by the Governor are sent back to the presiding officer of the house of the General Assembly where it originated with a list of reasons for the veto. The Governor’s veto can be overridden by two-thirds of the votes in each house. When this happens, the bill becomes law. All bills introduced in the current session, as well as their current status in the process and any amendments, can be viewed on the state website at

Take Action!

Advocacy Questions and Answers

How can I take action on legislation?

  1. Form a relationship with your representatives and senators by calling, emailing, faxing, and scheduling meetings to tell them about how their decisions on the budget and laws affect the quality of life for you and your family.
  2. Consider focusing your efforts on key issues such as the Medicaid services, ensuring that any plans for K-12 supports inclusive education practices or First Steps issues.

How can I contact my state representative or senator?

Every member has an email address and an office phone number at the statehouse. The most effective ways to communicate are by personal contacts, be they emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Legislators prefer to hear from their own constituents directly and may not pay attention to mass emails or form letters, especially from people outside their districts. Many legislators even invite constituents with concerns to contact them at home or via cell phone. Information about legislators is available on the state website at

You can mail and phone your legislators at the following:

House of Representatives

Indiana House of Representatives

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786

(317) 232-9600

(800) 382-9842


Indiana State Senate

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785

(317) 232-9400

(800) 382-9467

TDD Telephone Numbers

TDD (317) 232-0404

TDD (800) 548-9517

The Governor

The Honorable Eric Holcomb

Office of the Governor


Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797


How do I contact other state agencies?

The State of Indiana website is found at: and contains links to all state as well as many federal and local web resources.  Many State Agency and programs have email newsletters that you can sign up for on their website, these are a great way to get up to date information about the agency.

When is the General Assembly in session?

The 2017 General Assembly will convene on Jan. 3rd

Stay Informed

Groups that provide legislative updates and Action Alerts

Family Voices Indiana

The Arc of Indiana

Information on the Arc’s legislative agenda and general legislative information including link to sign up for action alerts.

Indiana Association of United Ways

Indiana Coalition for Human Services


Become familiar with these commonly used acronyms

Appropriation: a specific amount of money that is intended for use by a specific state program

FSSA: Family and Social Services Administration (in charge of Medicaid & First Steps)

DD: Developmental Disabilities

DOE: Department of Education

FY: Fiscal Year

HB: House Bill

HR: House Resolution

SB: Senate Bill


Thanks to the Indiana Association of United Ways for some of this information.