Democrats say limiting public access to Statehouse a concern for every citizen
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) and Assistant Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus, are calling on Governor Mitch Daniels to overturn his decision to limit public access to the Statehouse beginning January 1, 2012.
“This is an unnecessary restriction on Hoosiers’ rights to peacefully assemble and to petition their government, and we hope the governor will reconsider this decision,” Sen. Simpson said. “We also hope our Republican colleagues in the General Assembly will join us in standing up for the rights of Hoosiers and stop this.”
The two Democratic leaders from the State Senate, along with other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, say they are concerned the restrictions will limit the public’s access to meet with their elected representatives. The Daniels administration announced Friday morning that the Statehouse capacity will be limited to 3,000 people, limiting public access to just over 1,000. Approximately 1,700 employees and credentialed press and lobbyists are already in the building on an average day.
“It’s bad enough to trample on the rights of working people and their right to associate and collectively bargain,” Sen. Lanane said, “but it is completely inexcusable that they would trample on every Hoosier’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to redress grievances with the government. It’s being done because of the ‘Right to Work for Less’ bill, but the impact is going to be much larger than that.”
“It’s an effort to silence the voices of those who disagree with them,” Sen. Simpson added.
Sen. Simpson said earlier today that the officials who work in the Statehouse are the employees of the citizens. “We should never forget that. I am sorry that some elected officials in charge have forgotten our mission – to serve the people of Indiana by listening and acting on their behalf. Restricting public access to the People’s House limits their ability to speak and our ability to listen.”
“We don’t allow this in a free society, and we shouldn’t allow it at our Statehouse,” Sen. Lanane added.
NOTE: The new Statehouse restrictions are available at