The first half of the 2021 legislative session has ended, and State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) has seen three bills approved out of the Indiana Senate and referred to the House of Representatives. These bills include Senate Bill (SB) 164, SB 257 and SB 259.

SB 164 requires that the innkeeper’s tax board assist and support the Potawatomi Zoo in securing bonds for up to 20 years to pay costs associated with financing projects for the zoo. The bill also creates a tourism capital investment fund (TCIF), an application process to award investment money to projects and specifies the amount of tax revenue that the county treasurer can deposit. Sen. Niezgodski has referred to the TCIF as St. Joseph County’s own local version of the Regional Cities Initiative.

“SB 164 is a very important bill for South Bend, Mishawaka and St. Joseph County,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “It provides an incentive to bring tourism back to downtown and makes a beneficial investment in the likely increase of guests staying in St. Joseph County hotels and motels.”

SB257 establishes an annual reporting process of misclassified employees. It requires that the reports include only statistical information and not information that can be used to identify specific employers or workers.

“When an employee is misclassified, state and local governments are shorted revenue collected from payroll taxes,” Sen. Niezgodski stated. “This bill grants the state the opportunity to combat this fraud in situations where a company misclassifies its employees. This ensures that companies aren’t taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to avoid paying the proper taxes, and it also protects workers from being denied benefits that they are owed.”

SB 259 recognizes the importance of families and children and ensures that a person with a disability is not denied parenting rights solely due to the fact that they have a disability. The bill passed unanimously through the Senate.

“SB 259 is an important proposal that would ensure that parents with disabilities have the opportunity to provide the same loving home to their children as parents without disability,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “These are hard-working Hoosiers that care for our most vulnerable population and deserve to be recognized equally.”

“I was happy to see these three bills advance with so much bipartisan support. I’m also hoping to see language from my adoption subsidies bill, SB 66, moving forward later in session, as well. I look forward to continuing to advocate for these proposals and to working with the House to keep these bills moving in the legislature.”