The bipartisan committee endorsed a number of recommendations, including the use of a “hybrid” abuse and neglect hotline system that would allow mandatory reporters – like teachers, police officers and medical personnel – to report instances of abuse directly to local DCS offices. Sen. Lanane said this “hybrid” system of reporting, along with the funding needed to support it, needs to be restored in the closing days of the legislative session to ensure the protection of Hoosier children. He indicated this “hybrid” system would assist the agency in responding in a timely and thorough manner to cases of child abuse or neglect around the state. Lanane noted that the House-approved budget allocated $40 million to DCS, while the Senate version reduces DCS funding by $10 million to $30 million.
SEN. LANANE: “Well the concern that I raised on the floor of the Indiana Senate today, as we’re entering the last couple of days here of the budget process, is the removal of some very important funding for the Department of Child Services…”
(Length – 02:18)
Over a four month period, the Department of Child Service Interim Study Committee took hours of public testimony from stakeholders including child advocates, caseworkers and concerned Hoosiers. The committee held hearings in communities across the state and released a litany of recommendations to be considered during the 2013 legislative session.
Sen. Breaux debates an amendment to SB 621 that would create a committee to study the impact of eliminating Marion-County Council’s at-large seats. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 13-37.
On a party-line vote, members of the Indiana Senate rejected an amendment to study a major overhaul of Marion County government. The amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 621, proposed by Assistant Democratic Leader Jean D. Breaux, would have created a summer study committee to examine the impact of eliminating the City-County Council’s At-large councilor seats and reducing mayoral residency requirements, among other significant changes.
Sen. Breaux’s proposal to study the move aimed to lengthen the conversation on the issue; however, it was rejected, 13-37. Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, particularly those representing areas within Marion County, expressed their disappointment that more public discussion was not had before passing such a substantial shift of power.
SEN. BREAUX: “I was hoping, with the amendment I offered to 621, to do as I said on the floor and that is to slow this process down…”
SEN. LANANE: “It seems very clear to me that the elimination of the…”
SEN. LANANE: “I was disappointed our amendment was defeated because…”
SEN. TAYLOR: “I think the amendment would have done something we always do in the legislature. We allow the public to have public input…”
Indiana Governor Mike Pence gave his first major gubernatorial address on Tuesday, delivering his State of the State speech to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly. In what was expected to be a major policy announcement, the governor again remained light on specifics when it came to his legislative agenda.
Several Indiana Senate Democrats have released the following statements in response to Governor Pence’s State of the State address.
SEN. LANANE: “I thought there were some things in there I could agree with him upon, certainly in terms of his proposals with assisting veterans. Our caucus…”
SEN. LANANE: “He tried to make the case for his ten percent tax reduction. I’m not sure that he actually did that…”
SEN. LANANE: “Again, I thought that his overall speech was a good speech…”
SEN. BREAUX: “I think the election was pretty clear. I think the voters are saying all of this education reform…”
SEN. ARNOLD: “My main concern about it was when he talks about…”
SEN. TAYLOR: “I thought Gov. Pence left a lot of things to be desired. I really would love to see…”
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) held a press conference today introducing the caucus’s 2013 legislative agenda. The IBLC plans to advocate for initiatives that impact all Hoosiers, specifically children’s issues, economic development, K-12 education and preschool, higher education, and health care.
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus was established in 1979 in an effort to focus the legislative initiatives of the Indiana General Assembly’s African-American legislators. Since its creation, the IBLC has worked to promote their mission through bi-partisan events, educational symposiums and job fairs.
New IBLC leadership for the 118th General Assembly includes State Senator Lonnie Randolph as Chairman, Representative John Bartlett as Vice-Chairman, Senator Greg Taylor as Treasurer/Secretary and Representative Robin Shackleford as Chaplain.
Senator Randolph: “The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, to this end, the members hold fast to the following principles…” (1:08)
Senator Rogers: “We have been trying to get preschool…” (0:24)
On August 22, Senate Democratic members of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee joined with their colleagues in the House of Representatives to discuss their concerns about the group’s mission and outline their objectives for future meetings.
In a media availability prior to the review committee’s first meeting, Senate Democratic Assistant Leader Tim Lanane and State Senator John Broden reinforced the importance of protecting Hoosier children and that their intention is to use the study committees as a mechanism to improve the current system.
In the same media availability, Democrats also called for two of the review committee’s meetings to be held in communities outside of Indianapolis. The proposed meetings outside the Statehouse would be in an effort to allow those who would like to participate in these hearings an opportunity to partake.
Hear statements from Sens. Lanane and Broden at today’s media availability:
SEN. LANANE: “The policy of the state of Indiana when it comes to the protection of our children is paramount…”
SEN. LANANE: “We’re not going to cut corners when it comes to protecting our children…”
SEN. LANANE: “We’re not going to hide our head in the sand…”
SEN. BRODEN: “Clearly we know we are falling short in certain areas, and I hope we can use these hearings as an opportunity …”
The Indiana Department of Child Services has recently been criticized for their implementation of a centralized child abuse and neglect hotline staffed by workers in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis call center serves as a single intake point for the entire state and determines which cases are delegated to local officials.
The entire August 22 committee meeting agenda was occupied by a lengthy presentation by DCS explaining the history of the agency from 2005 to present. Limited questioning by committee members was permitted following the four presentation.
Senate Democrats rallied one last time on Wednesday to speak out against the contentious “Right to Work” bill as it gained passage in the Indiana State Senate. With a vote of 28 to 22, House Bill 1001 was sent to Governor Daniels who promptly signed the legislation this afternoon. Click the links below to listen to Senate Democratic Caucus members floor comments in opposition to the legislation. (Read more about events of Feb. 1 >>)
SEN. SIMPSON: “Weeks and months from now I want you to ask yourself this question; Was it worth it?…”
SEN. SIMPSON: “Right to work is a race to the bottom, it’s a downward spiral…”
SEN. ROGERS : “There’s a different relationship between management and unions now and we don’t need to interfere…”
SEN. SKINNER: “I don’t believe for a minute that companies are going to flock to Indiana…”
Senate Democratic members of the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee did not attend a meeting of the committee on Monday morning in protest over what they called a “mockery of the legislative process.” State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage), Ranking Democrat on the committee, said the Democrats did not want to participate in today’s committee meeting because they felt it was an unnecessary break from the Senate’s traditional decorum.
“Our position on ‘Right to Work’ is well established, and we’ll be on the floor to vote against it on Wednesday,” Sen. Tallian said. “What we’re protesting this morning is the process by which this bill is being rammed through the legislative process for nothing more than a political statement.
“Apparently lowering wages for Hoosier workers is an emergency.”
SEN. TALLIAN: “You know, the Senate Democrats may be small in number, but we can still be the conscience of this legislature…”
State Senator Jim Arnold
State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte), also a member of the committee, said, “If we aren’t fast-tracking ‘Right to Work,’ why are they holding this special committee hearing? If this was the traditional process, as claimed, this committee hearing would be held in just over a week from now. What’s the rush?”
The Senate typically waits to act on House bills until the Senate bill deadlines have passed. Those deadlines fall this week.
SEN. ARNOLD: “Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of standing up on the Senate floor…”
State Senator Tim Skinner
State Senator Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute), said, “This is a bad bill, and it’s being pushed through like an emergency when it is not. This is not how the process typically works, and we certainly don’t believe it justifies subverting the due diligence that each law should be given.”
SEN. SKINNER: “This whole process from the beginning to the end has been a sham…”
SEN. VI SIMPSON (D-ELLETTSVILLE): “We pride ourselves in the senate to maintain and respect those traditions which are long, long standing…”
Presumably, Republicans have pushed to get the bill through the General Assembly and on the governor’s desk before this Sunday’s Super Bowl hosted in Indianapolis.
On Tuesday, State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) offered a resolution in the Indiana Senate honoring the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association. Senate Resolution 19 recognizes the association for its valuable contribution to both those in law enforcement and the citizens of Indiana.
The Sheriffs’ Association has served as a platform to promote better communication between sheriffs and other law enforcement personnel since its establishment in 1930. In 1977, the association shifted its focus toward providing education and training to department personnel and was incorporated as a non-profit.
Arnold has a special connection with the association, having served 36 years in law enforcement and retiring as the LaPorte County Sheriff in 2007. During his 32 years with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, Arnold served as a Deputy, Sergeant, Captain and Chief Deputy before being elected as Sheriff in 1999.
SEN. ARNOLD: “I’d like to pay special tribute to my brothers and sisters from the Sheriff’s departments across the state of Indiana…”
The resolution was unanimously adopted and all members of the Senate joined Arnold as co-authors to the proposal.
Despite numerous objections by Senate Democrats, the Indiana Senate voted 28 to 22 to approve Senate Bill (SB) 269, the controversial “Right to Work” bill, on Monday. Senate Democrats argued that the legislation will be harmful to Indiana workers, working families and local economies by lowering average incomes statewide. Democrats also argued that the legislation is unnecessary due to current federal protections for those who choose not to join organized labor and that no concrete evidence has been presented showing that not having this policy has stifled job growth in the state. Nine Republicans voted with the 13 Democrats in the Senate in opposition to the bill.
Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson says the bill doesn’t confer rights, but instead makes it illegal for unions to make employees who benefit from negotiated salary, safety and benefit terms pay their fair share of the cost of providing those benefits.
SEN. SIMPSON: “This so-called “Right to Work” bill is not conferring any rights to a job on anyone…”
State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said the issue is really about the ability to join as a collective voice and the strength of the middle class embodied by the union movement.
SEN. TALLIAN: “This legislation is a classic class fight between unfettered, unrestricted, unregulated capitalism…”
State Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) said the legislation is about paying one’s fair share. He also questioned the wisdom in the state’s interference in contracts between employees and employers as proposed under the bill.
SEN. LANANE: “There is one thing that I think is absolutely true, that is that this bill will hurt unions…”
State Senator John Broden (D-South Bend) says Right to Work will set off a decline in wages because every study shows that where an industry is unionized, wages are higher for all workers in the area not just those in the union.
SEN. BRODEN: “After having heard all the debate…”
SEN. BRODEN: “Every study shows that where an industry or area is unionized…”
State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said the legislation will hurt working class families and lower wages.
SEN. TAYLOR: “This is an effort by people to stomp on the interests of working class citizens…”
State Senator Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute) said he is concerned that the message this bill sends is counterproductive for workers and businesses. He says he is convinced that this bill will bring wages down, not help families make a living in Indiana.
SEN. SKINNER: “I taught in a very blue collar area of Terre Haute. A lot of kids whose families were in unions…”
State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) said she is concerned that the legislation will begin a spiral of low quality jobs with lower wages in Indiana.
SEN. BREAUX: “My fear is that if we introduce ‘Right to Work’ that not only will we see a decrease in wages…”
State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) said the legislation targets a fabricated problem at the expense of working families in the state.
SEN. MRVAN: “I think this ‘Right to Work’ law is phantom issue…”
Last week, Senate Democrats offered a number of amendments to the bill, including a referendum proposal that would allow the law to be voted on by the public.
SB 269 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration. A companion bill, House Bill 1001, is also now moving through the House and may be voted on in that chamber on Tuesday. Either of the bills could become law if approved by both chambers, as Governor Daniels has committed to signing the legislation into law.
Under a decision by the Indiana Department of Education, EdisonLearning, Inc., a private turnaround school operator, has been selected to operate Roosevelt High School for four years beginning next year. Gary Roosevelt is one of seven Indiana schools in its sixth year of academic probation, resulting in the implementation of a turnaround plan under state law.
“The goal of this turnaround process is to improve the achievement levels of Roosevelt students. I see athletics as a way of enhancing those efforts,” Sen. Rogers said. “School athletic programs provide so many benefits to students and the community. For students they build character, provide scholarship opportunities, reduce the dropout rate and promote healthy lifestyles.
“School activities impact a community by bringing it together, involving parents and the entire community in a student’s education.”