Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane and Sen. Greg Taylor met to discuss the updates provided in the first summer meeting of the Health Finance Commission.
The Health Finance Commission met Tuesday to discuss the status of a number of high-profile Indiana health care issues. Lawmakers heard from Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Secretary Debra Minott, who laid out what priorities the administration has pursued since the close of the 2013 legislative session. The secretary noted that FSSA had met with federal officials and discussed a three year extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). The plan is administered with a federal waiver that expires at the end of this year and covers nearly 40,000 low-income Hoosiers with more than 50,000 on a waiting list to receive services. When pressed by lawmakers, Minott admitted than the administration had not pursued an alternative to expanding Medicaid health services to more Hoosiers.
Under the proposed expansion through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid eligibility would extend to Americans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level - $14,856 for an individual or $30,657 for a family of four. Senate Democrats stress that if Indiana does not expand Medicaid services to Hoosier working families, Indiana will forfeit as many as 30,000 high-paying jobs, an estimated $10 billion in federal money through 2020 and 400,000 Hoosiers will miss out on health care coverage for up to a year.
Throughout the summer and fall when the Indiana General Assembly is not in session, interim committees and commissions are convened to conduct in-depth research and analysis on many complex issues facing the state. The recommendations formed over the next few months by the work of these committees –including public testimony– are included in proposals likely to be considered during the next legislative session. Most study committees must complete their work by November 1st.
The newly-established committee will take up whether the state will continue to roll out Common Core standards or proceed in a different direction. The committee will compare the state’s current standards to Common Core and consider best practices in developing and adopting Common Core standards. The committee will also examine the cost of implementation and hear testimony from teachers, testing experts, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction among others.
Another new working group, the School Safety Interim Study Committee, will look to improve safety among the state’s schools and develop best practices for school resource officers hired under provisions laid out in Senate Enrolled Act 1. The bill provided schools with grant funding to hire officers to assist with school safety and security.
The Commission on Education will study the effects of unprecedented school voucher expansion in Indiana. The committee will consider the academic performance and graduation rates of choice scholarship schools and how they compare to traditional public schools. The committee will also study the demographics of students receiving vouchers including income, race, and special needs of choice scholarship students as compared to those students enrolled in public schools. Overall, the committee will examine why parents choose to enroll their child in the school choice scholarship program, as well as the student growth and achievement for students enrolled in the voucher program over time.
Following widespread issues with ISTEP testing across the state this spring, lawmakers will immediately review the testing process in June. The commission will hear testimony from the company behind ISTEP’s online testing software, McGraw-Hill, administrators and other concerned parties. Continue reading
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane on the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session and the status of some important pieces of legislation he worked on throughout the process. The 2013 Indiana General Assembly concluded on April 27, 2013, sending 295 bills to the governor for his final approval.
On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane called for the restoration of funds to the Department of Child Services (DCS) in the closing days of the budget process. Citing a recent DCS annual report on child fatalities showing an influx of child deaths in 2011, Sen. Lanane said the General Assembly should fully implement the recommendations of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee that met last summer.
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.
Some of the committee’s recommendations have been adopted in the form of separate legislation.
Sen. Broden on 2013 DCS reform legislation:
In an effort to increase job opportunities and economic growth, State Senator Tim Lanane co-authored Senate Bill 528, which will allow Indiana’s gaming facilities to better compete with those in neighboring states. After passing out of the Senate, the bill underwent several changes in the House, such as removing provisions permitting live table games at racinos and allowing riverboat casinos to expand inland. The bill is likely to undergo additional changes during conference committees.
In February, the Indiana Senate Democrats launched an interactive campaign to learn what you wanted to know about state government. Over 300 constituents weighed in, recording 90 questions and logging more than 5,000 votes.
The three most popular questions and answers straight from Senate Democratic Caucus members are featured below. Thank you to those citizens who participated in this online conversation.
“Citizens United turned corporations into people. One state is even considering a law to allow corporations to vote in elections. It’s time for Indiana to ban corporations from buying our politicians and running (ruining) the Great State of Indiana.” – Brett from Shelbyville, IN
“With all the money that was cut from education, and the new tax credit we are getting, why can’t we try to fight back now to invest in education and get some or most of those funds back? I don’t know any other country that doesn’t recognize that they must invest in the education of their country’s children to survive and to strive forward. Every time there are cuts, it is in education.” – Community member
Benefits for Elected Officials
“Seeing how the rest of the country is struggling, and our debt just keeps increasing with no end in sight, and no help from our politicians, don’t you think that politicians should be the first in line to help cut the deficit by eliminating their endless perks and lifetime benefits?” – Anthony from Munster, IN
State Senator Tim Lanane addresses the top ranked question in the Senate Democrats Open for Questions online question and answer session. Brett of Shelbyvile, IN asked, “Citizens United turned corporations into people. One state is even considering a law to allow corporations to vote in elections. It’s time for Indiana to ban corporations from buying our politicians and running (ruining) the Great State of Indiana.”
State Senator Tim Lanane gives an update on legislation that would increase accountability for individuals who harm law enforcement dogs. Sen. Lanane introduced an amendment to House Bill (HB) 1093 that would assign an interim study committee to determine a suitable criminal penalty for injuring or killing a police animal after two police dogs were killed in Madison County in the past year.