Blog-banner_Hoosier-Economy_2

Unemployment Rates Rise In June

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced Indiana’s June unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in June.

National unemployment rates have risen to 6.1 percent with Indiana below the national average at 5.9 percent in June of 2014.  This is a jump from the previous reports that stated Indiana’s unemployment rate at 5.7 percent in May of 2014.  Illinois and Kentucky have reported a decrease in unemployment with Illinois at 7.1 percent – down from 7.5 percent in May.  Kentucky decreased to 7.4 percent – previously at 7.7 percent.  Michigan and Ohio maintained their respective rates at 7.5 and 5.5 percent.

County with the highest unemployment rate: Vermillion at 8.8%
County with the lowest unemployment rate: Dubois at 4.3%

Employment Report (LAUS)

Jobs Report (CES)

 

Blog-banner_News

2014 Interim Study Committee topics

Every summer the Indiana General Assembly constructs study committees and commissions to explore a variety of topics concerning the bills and laws from the past session. The recommendations from these studies are likely to be a blue print for bills proposed in the upcoming session. Committees are made up of members from the General Assembly and serve as one-half of its voting membership.

The following is a list of the interim study committees and commissions as well as the topics they are assigned:

Interim Study Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources

  •  A statewide policy for recreational trails and the maintenance of recreational trails.
  •  A method to distribute money deposited into the recreational trail and maintenance fund.
  •  Regulation of shooting preserves
  •  The risk of disease from importing animals into Indiana for use in shooting preserves.

Interim Study Committee on Commerce & Economic Development

  • Examines the economic and workforce development impact of the medical device industry in Indiana.

Interim Study Committee on Corrections & Criminal Code

  • Criminal justice issues concerning individuals with autism spectrum disorders as well as juvenile justice issues.

Interim Study Committee on Courts & Judiciary

  • Issues with digital privacy such as: searches of electronic devices, disclosure of electronic user data, collection and use of geo-location information, and the collection and use of biometric information by government agencies.
  • Whether a defendant should be able to claim a nonparty defense in an Indiana statute grants the nonparty immunity from liability.
  • Whether a father that has abandoned a birth mother during pregnancy should be required to consent to the adoption of the child.
  • Review and report on all requests for new courts or changes in jurisdiction of existing courts.

Interim Study Committee on Education

  • Pre-kindergarten and early learning.
  •  Student discipline and the suspension, expulsion, or exclusion of a student from school.

Interim Study Committee on Employment & Labor

  •  Job sharing working conditions and benefits.

Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs

  • Statewide standards for sewage disposal systems, including septic tanks and related facilities and devices.
  • Sewage disposal systems using alternative technologies that off better performance than traditional sewage disposal systems.

Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy

  • Whether Indiana should implement a state-based health exchange, the current operation of the federal exchange in Indiana, the definition of “essential health benefits” for use in Indiana under the Affordable Care Act and access to consumer choice of health care providers.
  • A multi-year review, analysis, and evaluation of all tax incentives.
  • Comparison of the effectiveness of tax credits to the effectiveness of grant programs in encouraging the preservation and commercial redevelopment of historic properties.
  • The factors contributing to the shift of the local property tax burden.

Interim Study Committee on Government

  • Various topics concerning annexation.

Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight

  • Status of existing local government unit pension plans.
  • Review and report on all requests for changes in a public pension program.

Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, & Human Services

  • Implementation of a high-cost management program.
  • The integrity and security of the INSPECT program to insure it may be used for lawful purposes only.
  • Whether opioid treatment programs should be prohibited from allowing patients to take home a multiple day supply of opioid treatment medication.
  • Public policy that assists individuals with chronic eye disease in removing barriers to long-term access to effective treatment therapies.
  • Issues related to adding blindness and vision impairment services to the First Steps program.

Interim Study Committee on Public Policy

  • Societal impact of teenage pregnancy on education.
  • Competition and potential competition posed to existing casinos and racinos in Indiana as well as the comparative impact of potential changes in Indiana’s existing gaming laws on viability, patron admissions, and revenues of the existing casinos and racinos in Indiana.

Interim Study Committee on Public Safety & Military Affairs

  • How transforming Indiana’s veterans benefits services can increase those benefits to veterans and beneficiaries in compensation and pensions, education, medical care, etc.
  • How Indiana compares to other states in each component of benefits, as reported annually by the Veterans Benefits Administration.
  • How Indiana’s structure of assisting beneficiaries in obtaining benefits and tools may be restructured.

Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation

  •  Advise the bureau of motor vehicles regarding the suitability of a special groups to have a special group recognition license plate.

 Interim Study Committee on Utilities, Energy, & Telecommunications

  • The findings presented by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in its most recent report to the legislative council and their recommendations.
  • Underground facilities and tolerance zones for interstate pipelines.
  • Service areas of electric utilities.

Commission on Business Personal Property & Business Taxation

  • Topics assigned by Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 1 and SEA 118 concerning taxation, redevelopment commissions, authorities, and departments.

Commission on Improving The Status of Children

  • Under-reporting of crimes against children, including the reasons for under-reporting.

 

Blog-banner_news

Lanane: How much of a surplus can Hoosiers afford?

INDIANAPOLIS— Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) issued the following statement in response to the fiscal year close-out numbers released today by the state auditor’s office.

“Today, the administration announced the state will have a combined balance of over $2 billion for this fiscal year, with a little higher surplus estimated for FY 2015. In order to help reach this magical two billion dollar number, the governor continues to order cuts from already lean state programs without regard for how they will impact citizens.

“Let’s not confuse the state of Indiana’s books with the state of the average Hoosier. It’s become abundantly clear that the state’s fiscal health has little to do with improving the well-being of the average Hoosier. Let’s look at some sad realities:

•           College is less affordable than ever for working families.

•           Our infant mortality rate is the 2nd worst in the country, and our overall health factors are ranked 41st in the nation.

•           Many of our public schools struggle to pay for basic services like transportation.

•           We remain one of the few states without a fully funded pre-kindergarten program.

•           The CHOICE program maintains a waiting list of over 3,000 people.

•           Unlike nearly every other state in the nation, families who adopt special needs children from the state don’t get help from the state for their care.

•           While the Republicans continue to lower taxes for businesses, the average Hoosier worker’s income goes down and their tax burden goes up.

“What’s the governor’s plan for the surplus? More tax breaks for businesses? Another $50 taxpayer refund? The governor has failed to provide a clear vision for how this surplus can benefit all Hoosiers.

“The bottom line should be about the overall well-being of Indiana’s citizens, not just money in the bank.  At a time when we should be investing in Indiana to improve the abysmal state of Hoosier’s incomes and health, we are hoarding hard-earned taxpayer’s dollars instead of returning it to them with meaningful programs and services. It seems we have our priorities wrong.

“Let’s not congratulate ourselves for hoarding tax dollars while so many of those taxpayers continue to struggle.”

Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 includes the portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the City of Muncie and portions of the City of Anderson. For more information on Sen. Lanane, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S25 .

###

A photo of Sen. Tim Lanane can be downloaded at: http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_democrats/images/headshots/Lanane.JPG

Blog-banner_News

OPED by Sen. Breaux: Arlington students lose out amid takeover experiment

I am outraged. The takeover operators of Arlington High School with their plans for reform and restoration now require additional public funding of their operations to achieve the substantial claims touted during their 2012 takeover.

Tindley Accelerated Schools, formerly known as ED Power, realize that their business model for Arlington High School will not net them a ”return” without a significant infusion of additional public dollars.  Without such an infusion, they will have to walk-away and return Arlington High School and its approximately 400 students to IPS.

The students at Arlington High School are some of the most vulnerable in our state and in the greatest need of a solid, quality, intensive education that results in graduation.

Instead, they briefly participated in an “experiment” in which they were student test subjects.

The experiment has failed and the students are the losers – despite forecasted improvement in test scores. They lose the stability, the predictability and the reliability they need in their educational experience to succeed.

Now we face the possibility of closing a high school with a rich academic history, a prominent community marker that was once home to more than 1,400 students and is known for the education and graduation of outstanding community and accomplished leaders.

No one profited from this experiment. Not Tindley. Not Arlington. And most sadly of all, not the Golden Knights.

Blog-banner_news

Governor’s appointees jeopardize waiver approval

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement Wednesday regarding the State Board of Education’s resolution concerning the Indiana Department of Education’s flexibility waiver application.

“It is extremely disappointing and concerning that rather than working with the Superintendent, the Center for Education and Career Innovation and State Board of Education choose to put themselves at odds with her.

“It was exactly this kind of counter-productive competition for control of public education policy that I feared would occur when the governor announced the formation of his shadow education agency last year.

“Rather than supporting Superintendent Ritz’s attempts to receive federal approval of Indiana’s flexibility waiver submission, this action seems to take a combative, uncooperative tone, which I understand may actually threaten our state’s chances.

“Now is not the time for divisive action. Rather, it is time for the administration and the board to ask how it can assist in gaining the approval of our state’s waiver so that public education funding, and indeed the education of our children, are not placed in jeopardy.”

Blog-banner_news

Governor’s unnecessary order muddies waters on marriage ruling

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement Wednesday in response to a memo delivered from the governor’s chief counsel ordering state agencies not to recognize same sex marriage licenses recently issued.

“The governor’s interpretation of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ order is excessive and unnecessarily adds further confusion to this matter.

“This is an unfair move to couples who very well may be legally married according to the ruling and who in good faith relied on a court order that was valid at the time.

“Time after time, we have seen this governor and Statehouse Republicans take action to block same sex couples from any recognition of a valid marriage.

“I believe the governor has jumped to conclusions that don’t clearly come from the order of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and it is my hope that as this case continues to move its way through the judicial process, common sense and equality will prevail, giving all Hoosiers the equal rights they deserve.”

fireworks over indy1

Fourth of July Safety

The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus would like to wish everyone a happy and safe July 4th. Independence Day is filled with cookouts, family celebrations and fireworks. We encourage every Hoosier to follow these safety tips to insure that everyone in Indiana has a great holiday weekend.

Safety Tips from Homeland Security:

•Never let children handle, play with, or light any fireworks without adult supervision.
•Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
•Use a clear, open area and keep the audience a safe distance from the shooting site.
•Do not attempt to make or alter any fireworks device.
•Only purchase and light 1.4G consumer fireworks. Examples include bottle rockets, roman candles and fire crackers.
•Only light one firework item at a time and never attempt to re-light or fix a “dud” firework.
•Have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose, or bucket of water nearby.
•Use extreme caution when lighting fireworks in the wind. Keep spectators where the wind is blowing away from them.
•Never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while handling fireworks.
•Never aim, point, or throw fireworks at another person.
•Sparklers burn at extremely hot temperatures from 1200 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Glow sticks make an excellent, safer alternative to sparklers, especially for young children.

NewLaws_2014_WPbanner

New laws effective July 1, 2014

The Indiana General Assembly approved over 200 new laws this year, many of which will become effective July 1. The changes in state law taking place this summer impact a variety of issues. Read on for a brief summary of some of the new laws taking effect July 1, 2013, and several that are already effective.

To see a complete list of new laws enacted and signed by the governor in 2014, visit the governor’s Bill Watch page. 

Major Senate Democratic Caucus Agenda Items

Pre-K initiative

The Senate Democrats’ highest legislative priority, the General Assembly signed off on Indiana’s first state-funded preschool program. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004 creates a five-county pre-kindergarten pilot program, enrolling as many as 3,000 4-year-olds. The pilot program will be open to families earning up to 127 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $30,000 for a family of four, and will utilize $10 million in reversions from the state budget and up to another $5 million in contributions. The measure includes a longitudinal study tied to the pilot program. The portions of this law that requires a study of early childhood education became effective upon passage, while the other portions of the law became effective July 1, 2014.While the act calls for implementation this fall, Governor Pence and his administration has not taken the necessary steps for the program to begin within the time frame laid out by the act.

Senate Democrats argued that a quality preschool option is a critical part of ensuring that Hoosier children get a head start on education and develop the skills to be lifelong learners. Until the act was signed into law, Indiana was one of only 9 states that do not provide state funding for pre-K programs after Mississippi rolled out a state-funded option earlier this year.

Child care safety requirements

Providing better quality day care programs is the goal of HEA 1036, a new law which specifies certain conditions that a child care provider must meet to be eligible for federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) voucher payments. The vouchers assist low-income families with child care costs. The law specifically requires various health, education, safety, and employee training requirements, such as child-to-staff ratios and nutritious meal requirements. The law also requires the immediate notification of a parent or legal guardian of a child in the event of serious bodily injury while at the day care facility. Senator Greg Taylor has offered similar legislation in previous years in response to a number of deaths at child care facilities across Indiana. Continue reading