INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers are now one step closer to getting a $225 tax relief check in their mailboxes.
Friday afternoon, the Indiana House voted 93-2 on House Bill 1001 to send those relief checks to nearly every adult in the state. All residents who file a tax return would automatically be eligible to receive the $225 ($450 for married couples filing jointly). Residents who do not file tax returns would be also eligible if they file an affidavit to receive the money.
But the tax relief is far from a done deal. The bill next goes to the Senate, where Republican leadership have all but shot down the idea of $225 refund checks. Instead, they prefer offering tax relief by temporarily suspending state taxes residents pay on some utilities, as well as capping the state gasoline tax.
The tax relief bill passed Friday in the Indiana House also sets aside millions of dollars in anticipation of state Republicans passing a controversial abortion ban.
The funding includes increased spending for pregnancy and child health services, preferred grants that provide financial assistance to individuals seeking contraceptives and increased dependent child tax exemptions. The bill also calls for removing state sales tax on diapers.
All House Democrats voted in favor of the tax relief bill, but several said it does not go far enough to provide the necessary funding for the health care and community services that will be needed if lawmakers do enact a ban on most abortions in Indiana.
“I think we could have frankly done more than we did,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. “We had a lot of good amendments that could have helped so many more women and families.”
Those amendments included expanded rights for family medical leave and additional support for pregnant individuals who are working. Democrats also proposed suspending the state gasoline tax, but House Republicans rejected the proposal.
“Something is better than nothing. At least we're doing something, and so that’s good,” added Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington. ”But I think probably the politest way that I can describe this bill is modest.”
House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, didn’t mind the House being described as modest. “I'm kind of OK with that. I support the bill because at the end of the day, it’s our taxpayers’ money,” he said just before the floor vote.
The abortion debate moves to the House next week, where lawmakers are expected to press for tighter abortion restrictions than those being considered by the Senate.