On Thursday, State Senator Vi Simpson introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 17, a resolution to honor the Indiana University Crimson Cheerleaders for winning the All-Girl Division I 2012 UCA College National Championship.
The girls traveled to Orlando, Florida where they beat out teams from Morehead State University, San Diego State University, University of Minnesota, Florida State University, University of South Florida, Western Kentucky University, Rutgers and Temple University.
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) released the following statement in response to this morning’s announcement that public access to the Statehouse will be limited beginning January 1, 2012.
“The people of Indiana should be outraged to learn of the decision to unnecessarily restrict their right to peacefully assemble and to petition their government.
“The action of this administration is symbolic of a closed, elitist government which seeks to silence the voices of persons who disagree with them. This is neither about security nor safety…it is about not wanting to hear from working families who have made the effort, at their own expense, to come and speak with their elected representatives about issues that will directly impact them.
“The administration is, however, maintaining access to special interests – the people who are highly paid to be at the Statehouse. Lobbyists are guaranteed a voice for their clients, but the average Hoosier has no such guarantee.
“If they can silence working people now, then they can silence anyone on any issue with which they disagree. Who will be next?
“I have always been very proud that our Statehouse is open to the public. It has given me great pride to welcome groups of Hoosiers of all kinds to the People’s House. The officials who work in the Statehouse are the People’s Employees, and we should never forget that. I am sorry that some 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.”
State Senate committees will begin an unusual schedule of bill hearings on Wednesday. Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (Ellettsville) says she is concerned schedule changes made by Senate Republicans will create a more complicated, even chaotic system that could limit the public’s access to follow or advocate on measures before the General Assembly.
Under the changes for Senate committees, announced last week by Senate Republicans, legislators expect to see multiple measures pushed into one bill during committee hearings. Also, House Republicans are invited to attend and participate in Senate committee hearings with the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions along with the Senate committee members.
“I hope that decorum will be maintained in the Senate committees, and that a circus-like environment in those deliberations does not detract from the public’s ability to hear and be heard,” Sen. Simpson said. “The Senate should not create more confusion and chaos in this process or make it more burdensome for constituents to stay engaged on important matters that affect them.”
In a letter to the Senate President Pro Tem delivered Monday, Sen. Simpson asked that the bills to be offered as amendments be included in committee public postings, a courtesy that would provide 48 hours notice to the public and to other legislators. Procedural rules in the State Senate do not require any prior posting or notice of amendments offered in committee, a process that Sen. Simpson believes will put the public at a distinct disadvantage during these unusual proceedings.
Senate Republicans declined that request on Tuesday, noting that it will be up to committee chairs to decide whether any notice of the bills to be considered as amendments will be posted publicly before each hearing.
On Wednesday morning, the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee will consider combining ten different bills into a single bill. House Bill 1017, which now contains a plan allowing medication unused by incarcerated offenders to be returned to the pharmacy, could become the vehicle for nine other substantial measures on issues ranging from an increased co-pay for families in the First Steps Program for developmentally disabled children to changes in the Healthy Indiana Plan for adult low-cost health care insurance.
Sen. Simpson pointed out that in the case of the health committee, while the extensive amendments would complicate the process, at least the public had some notice of the measures that were going to be considered. Whether such prior notice will be available in other committees is unlikely.
For more information on Sen. Simpson, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.
Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (Ellettsville) along with Assistant Leader and Ranking Democrat on Elections, Tim Lanane (Anderson) held a media availability today to discuss a letter received from Senate and House Republicans outlining a schedule of public meetings regarding redistricting. Simpson expressed disappointment over the partisan approach taken by Republicans in the first stages of the redistricting process and reiterated her previous support for an independent redistricting commission.
Watch below as Sen. Simpson and Sen. Lanane respond to the Republican plans and call for more non-partisan action in redistricting.
The audio comments below were recorded during today’s media event as Sen. Simpson and Sen. Lanane replied to questions from Statehouse reporters.
Sen. Simpson’s opening comments: “Well, we invited you all here today to share a letter…”
Sen. Simpson discussed status of redistricting work on new Senate and House district map:
“We’ve been working to figure out what the demographic changes…”
Sen. Lanane responds to a question about how map proposals could be imported into Indiana by outside interests:
“It’s what you fear. Is Indiana going to be a pawn…”
On Wednesday, March 9, remarkable women from across the state gathered in Indianapolis for the seventh annual Indiana Commission for Women Torchbearer Awards. The event, founded in 2004, celebrates and honors the contributions Hoosier women have made to make Indiana an encouraging place for women to overcome obstacles, succeed in the workplace and raise a healthy family.
Torchbearer Award recipients are drawn from a select few Indiana women who have established a reputation for leadership in the state. They are courageous and inspiring individuals who continue to light the way for female Hoosiers to fully participate and engage in all aspects of society. As the only event in which The State of Indiana honors the contributions of its exceptional females, the Torchbearer ceremony is marked by the presence of Indiana’s inspiring women, past award recipients, legislators and elected officials.
The 2011 Torchbearer Recipients are:
Ellen Annala, Indianapolis
Elaine Bedel, Indianapolis
Tanya Bell, Brownsburg
Susan W. Brooks, Indianapolis
Dr. Maria Del Rio Hoover, Evansville
Cheryl Hillenburg, English
Cynthia “Cindy” Hubert, Indianapolis
Harriet Sweedler Miller, Fort Wayne
Janice Montgomery, Columbus
Dessie Partenheimer Koch, Indianapolis
Katie Stam, Seymour/Carmel
Maria Larrison, Avon
Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson addressed Wednesday’s crowd of accomplished women.
“It is our hope that we can keep moving women forward by encouraging them to retrain and become more educated, to become better connected to their communities, to become aware of the opportunities and resources available to them, to start a business or to step forward as leaders in their industries and in their communities so that they can achieve economic stability and prosperity,” she said.
The Indiana Commission for Women is committed to removing barriers that hinder women’s full participation in all aspects of society by:
Increasing awareness of the status of women, their families and the issues they face
Recognizing and promoting the contributions that Hoosier women make to their community, state and nation
Providing balanced analysis of public policy issues that impact women in Indiana
For more information about the Indiana Commission for Women Torchbearer Awards, click here>>
On Thursday, March 3 Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson held a media availability to discuss issues surrounding the ongoing House walk-out, the future of this year’s budget bill and the status of redistricting work to draw new legislative maps.
The video and audio provided below was recorded during this media availability as Sen. Simpson replied to questions from Statehouse reporters.
When asked about the current status of the House Democrats’ decision to walk-out, Sen. Simpson remained cautiously optimistic, explaining that certain steps must take place in order for both parties to come to a compromise. She commended House Democrat Leader Pat Bauer on taking the first step toward reaching a solution by meeting with Speaker Brian Bosma last Wednesday.
“I think yesterday was a good start…”
Sen. Simpson assured reporters that, despite concerns that work has come to a standstill at the Statehouse, legislators continue to work.
“It behooves all of us to make sure that they understand that first of all, there is work going on…”
Noting the walk-out as a last-resort tool to defend the minority, Sen. Simpson expressed support for the House Democrats’ decision to stand for the rights of minority constituents.
“It isn’t about a walk-out or a boycott…”
To fine the House Democrats for remaining out of state will only strengthen their resolve to stand against attacks on Indiana’s working families, Sen. Simpson explained.
” I think that’ll be incentive to keep them there…”
Sen. Simpson told reporters that Republicans’ threat to diminish employees’ ability to collectively bargain for better wages and safe working conditions has fueled the current conflict.
“I think there is a belief that that’s what the Republicans are doing…”
In response to concerns over the status of this year’s budget bill, given inactivity in the House, Sen. Simpson explained other ways the bill could continue to move forward.
“The only requirement is that it has to be a House bill…”
Looking forward, Sen. Simpson discussed the status of redistricting work on new Senate and House district maps.
“We’re working on it, we have a staff person assigned to it…”
She stressed the importance of creating competitive districts and emphasized the need for Hoosiers to follow along in the redistricting process.