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HJR-3: where the proposal stands

UPDATE 2/17/14: HJR 3 gained final approval by the Indiana Senate, largely along party lines. While the bill passed by a vote of 32-17, the issue will not go before voters this November. The earliest a resolution could appear on a ballot would be November 2016, as the new language must be approved by a newly elected General Assembly.

A number of Senate Democrats delivered floor remarks, condemning the placement of what they characterized as discrimination into the state’s constitution. Remarks by State Senator Tallian>>

What is HJR-3?

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 3 is a controversial proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana. A ban on same-sex marriage is already in state law. Originally passed in 2011 as HJR-6, the resolution needs to pass a second General Assembly in the same wording before it becomes a ballot issue to be voted on in November.

Opponents of the ban, including Eli Lilly, Cummins, IU Health and many universities around the state called on lawmakers to defeat the legislation as it would make recruiting and retaining top employees more difficult.  Opponents pointed to the second sentence of the resolution, which banned “any legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage,” as particularly troubling as it may call the legality of domestic partnerships benefits offered by some universities and cities into question. According to a poll conducted last October by nonpartisan Ball State University and WISH-TV, 58 percent of Hoosiers oppose an amendment to the constitution banning same sex marriage.

House of Representatives action thus far

HJR-3 originated in the House of Representatives and was first assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but was later reassigned to the House Elections Committee after the committee chair in the Judiciary Committee declined to vote on the resolution. After hours of public testimony, the proposal passed the committee by a party line vote and moved to the full House of Representatives for further consideration.

By a vote of 57-40, the House of Representatives approved a modified version of HJR-3. In earlier action, House members deleted the second sentence of HJR-3 that would have potentially barred civil unions and similar domestic partnerships. The resolution that arrived in the Senate  only contained language defining marriage between one man and one woman.

By altering the amendment’s language, the approval process requiring a resolution amending the constitution to pass two separately elected General Assemblies would likely have to start over, delaying the initiative from heading to voters until November 2016.

Senate action thus far

The Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee voted on party lines to send HJR-3 without amendments to the full Senate for consideration. Committee members from the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus voted in unison to oppose the amendment.

The proposal was considered by the full Senate on second reading, where any member of the Senate could have offered an amendment. Though amendments were filed that would have reinserted the controversial second sentence, none were heard on the floor and the resolution advanced in the same form it arrived in.

Going forward

HJR-3 could receive a final vote in the Senate as early as Monday, February 17. Since the second sentence was not re-inserted into the proposal, the proposed constitutional amendment would need to be considered and approved by a separate General Assembly before it would be placed on the ballot in 2016.

Click here for the full audio of Senator Lanane’s speech to concerned citizens at the statehouse>>

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Video: Lanane reacts to the passage of HJR-3 by Senate Rules committee

Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane reacts to the Senate Rules Committee passing HJR-3, a controversial proposal that would amend the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. Sen. Lanane notes the proposal will now move to be considered by the full Senate.

Video: Lanane pleased his cultural diversity proposal cleared committee process

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane was pleased his proposal that would require law enforcement agencies to enhance education on cultural diversity and U nonimmigrant Visas (U-Visas). U-visas would not serve as a shortcut to citizenship, but instead a vehicle of cooperation with law enforcement to solve a crime.

VIDEO: Lanane responds to the State of the State

Senator Tim Lanane  responds to Governor Pence’s State of the State address on January 14, 2014. Lanane questions the lack of leadership and solutions from the governor when it comes to economic growth, unemployment, and health care.

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Lanane on the start of the 2014 legislative session

The second session of the 118th Indiana General Assembly has reconvened and lawmakers have begun considering numerous proposals. While regular business was delayed due to inclement weather affecting most of the state, the Senate came to order and assigned bills to their respective committees. Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane said he and fellow caucus members are ready to focus on a number of measures crafted to improve the lives of Hoosier working families.

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Health Finance Commission holds first meeting to discuss ACA options

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.

Download FSSA’s presenatation to the Health Finance Commission on June 25>>

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.

Read more on federal health care reform in Indiana>>

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2013 study committees to examine ISTEP, Common Core, ACA and more

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.

On Thursday, the Legislative Council approved a resolution adopting a variety of topics for study, including:

Interim Study Committee on Common Core Education

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.

School Safety Interim Study Committee

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.

Commission on Education

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.

Examining the administration of ISTEP testing

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

VIDEO: Sen. Lanane elaborates on summer study committee topics, session conclusion

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.

Lanane calls for restoration of Dept. of Child Services funding in state budget

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.

Read more on the work of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee>>

Some of the committee’s recommendations have been adopted in the form of separate legislation.

Sen. Broden on 2013 DCS reform legislation:

Broden