Republicans called the 2021 legislative session “transformational.” Democrats were not quite so effusive with their praise. But everyone agrees it was a session no one will likely forget, impacted in every way by the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) lamented the lack of connection among lawmakers this year, driven by the pandemic. But he said COVID-19 also brought positive change.
“Really forced communication among members on their bills to be far better," Huston said. "And I think the challenge for Sen. [Rodric] Bray and I moving forward is, how do you sustain that?”
The session ended on a note of bipartisanship, with almost every Democrat joining Republicans to vote for the new state budget.
Still, Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said some priorities are misaligned. He said that’s evidenced by a decision made late in session not to mirror the federal government and allow Hoosiers to deduct unemployment benefits from their 2020 taxes.
“But at the same time, the PPP loans that the business community saw … we don’t tax as income in Indiana. I think that’s a stark contrast,” Taylor said.
COVID-19 is also changing the way the session ended. Technically, the session will keep going until this fall, when lawmakers return for redistricting. The information they need from the federal government to redraw district lines is delayed.