On Tuesday, Governor Mike Pence announced Indiana had reached an agreement with the Obama Administration to offer health care to … Continue reading →
The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus’ priorities for the 2015 session align legislative action with the needs of real Hoosiers. While the … Continue reading →
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states were given the ability to expand Medicaid services to their … Continue reading →
INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) issued the following statement in response to Governor Pence’s infrastructure announcement.
“It’s reassuring that Governor Pence now acknowledges that Indiana’s infrastructure needs attention, but it seems the scope and immediacy of that need continues to elude him.
“His proposal is a drop in the bucket when you consider Indiana’s infrastructure situation as a whole.
“Even now, the governor makes what he calls a ‘significant’ infrastructure investment with traditional construction season winding down and no new dollars available until July 2016.
“We can repave state highways all we want, the fact is the majority of roads in the Hoosier State are maintained by local governments.
“For every one centerline mile of road the Indiana Department of Transportation maintains, cities, towns and counties maintain nearly nine. For every structurally deficient bridge INDOT must repair, locals have five.
“Until we have a comprehensive plan for state and local governments to fund infrastructure in a sustainable way, the governor’s announcement is the equivalent of filling potholes.
“For the safety of Hoosier drivers and passengers and for economic growth, the governor is not moving fast enough. The condition of Indiana’s roads and bridges requires action now.”
According to a report from the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program, Indiana has 96,000 miles of roads. The Indiana Department of Transportation maintains roughly 11,000 miles while Indiana towns, cities and counties are responsible for about 85,000 miles of road. Indiana is one of only eight states that collect a sales tax on gasoline and diesel. The state sales tax on gas purchases is currently directed to the state’s General Fund.
The $10 billion local road funding gap
A 2012 report from the Indiana Metropolitan Planning Organization Council – an organization of Indiana’s 14 MPOs or urban areas that develop and implement transportation planning – provided an overview of Indiana’s local road funding situation. Indiana’s 14 MPOs cover 39 Indiana counties both urban and rural, representing 76 percent of the state’s 2010 total population and 36,966 miles of the state’s paved local road mileage.
According to the report, every year MPOs estimated annual pavement program shortfall exceeds $711 million.
“Based on current industry standards this translates to an inability to meet 82 percent of annual maintenance and road reconstruction needs.”
The report estimates that between 2015 and 2025, the projected shortfall in pavement programs will top $10 billion.
Need outstrips annual road funding for MPOs
The Federal Highway Administration’s 2014 National Bridge Inventory recorded 19,019 bridges in Indiana, of which 5,484 are maintained by INDOT and another 13,044 are kept up by Indiana cities, towns and counties. The remainder are maintained by various federal, state, or local agencies, tolling authorities and the Armed Forces.
According to the same FHWA report, over 1,900 Indiana bridges are structurally deficient – meaning one or more structural element is in “poor” condition or worse. Nearly 5 out of 6 deficient bridges are maintained by local, city or county governments. More than 1.6 million Hoosiers crossed locally-maintained deficient bridges every day in 2014 and it would cost more than $680 million to repair those 1,532 deficient bridges.
Senate Democrats are moving forward with a legislative strategy to ensure all Hoosiers – including members of the LGBT community – are protected equally under the law. Sign on and tell Governor Pence and Statehouse Republicans that it’s time protect all Hoosiers.
Caucus will file bill immediately adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Civil Rights statutes
INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) detailed a path forward on outlawing discrimination in the Hoosier state. In a press conference, Lanane laid out legislative language that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to Indiana’s Civil Rights statutes, a step he believed was reflective of Hoosiers’ commonsense mentality.
“There’s no room for shortcuts or half measures, all Hoosiers deserve equal protection under the law,” said Lanane. “LGBT Hoosiers can be married legally over the weekend and be fired for it Monday. That simply does not represent who we are as Hoosiers, or as human beings.”
“We will fulfill what is a basic, fundamental Hoosier value….”
Lanane noted the bill he and the Senate Democratic Caucus have drafted guarantees protections in the simplest, strongest fashion possible. Lanane emphasized a need to shift the conversation on amending Indiana’s Civil Rights statues from behind closed doors and into the public dialogue, and plans to file the legislation immediately. Lanane also penned a letter to Senate President Pro-Tempore David Long urging his support of the bill.
“Hoosiers expect nothing less than equal protection under the law for LGBT Hoosiers and that’s what we’ve drafted,” said Lanane. “While others are keeping conversations behind closed doors, we’re ready to move this forward.”
Lanane will file the preliminary draft and intends to offer the bill during the 2016 legislative session. Bill filing officially begins October 19 with the first day of the 2016 legislative session arriving January 5.
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane and Assistant Democratic Leader Jean D. Breaux issued the following statements after the passing of State Representative William “Bill” Crawford of Indianapolis on Friday.
“I was extremely saddened to hear the news of the passing of my friend and colleague Bill Crawford,” said Sen. Lanane. “His voice and his leadership in the legislature not only helped to improve the lives of Hoosiers in his district, but Hoosiers all around the state. Indiana has lost a prolific public servant today, and his legacy will not soon be forgotten.”
“Bill Crawford’s dedication to public service, to his district and to his constituents are values that should inspire each and every one of us as legislators,” said Sen. Breaux. “He encapsulated what it means to be a public servant. While Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he not only worked tirelessly to maintain a balanced budget, but he always advocated for the welfare of all working Hoosier families as well as preserving funding for quality public education for all Hoosiers.”
“He was a leader in the fight to help those whose voices were muted by poverty, racism and indifference,” said Sen. Breaux. “He spoke for those who were unable to speak for themselves, and he did so with passion, knowledge and intelligence. He inspires me to continue the fight; to ratchet up my voice for those who need a strong, impassioned advocate. I will miss him deeply.”
Rep. Crawford was a former Democratic member of the Indiana House of Representatives, representing District 98 in Indianapolis from 1972 to 2012. Rep. Crawford served as the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and was a pivotal member of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. Rep. Crawford was also a member of National Caucus of Black State Legislators, the Indiana Black Expo Economic Development Corporation and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement after revelations concerning the use of inferior road surfacing material surfaced earlier this week.
“Indiana can’t keep roads paved or bridges open. That’s the signal Governor Pence is sending to Hoosiers sitting in traffic or dodging potholes.
“Two bridges carrying major Interstate highways closed in four years. A $71 million asphalt ‘mishap.’ A near failing grade in overall infrastructure quality. Pavement lane miles in “poor” condition projected to increase through 2024. And no plan forward from the governor’s office.
“Every minute Governor Pence delays action on properly funding our roads, the hole he’s digging gets a little deeper and the cost to taxpayers gets a little higher.
“Governor Pence and the Indiana Department of Transportation continue to fumble serious issues including the recent closing of the I-65 bridge over Wildcat Creek and the resultant detour.
“An investigation is a needed first step but taken alone is shoveling dirt into a bottom-less pit. Anything short of a clear, long-term plan from the governor on how to fund Indiana’s roads and bridges into the future just isn’t enough.”
INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) along with the Senate Democratic Caucus released a package of initiatives aimed at strengthening education, public safety, and access to healthcare for Latino families across the state.
Ideas for these proposals are the result of a working group of Latino community leaders, established by Senate Democrats in 2013. The Indiana Senate Democratic Latino Roundtable is comprised of various leaders from education, health care, and the private sector and meets monthly during legislative session and bi-monthly during the interim.
To provide more affordable tuition to college students State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary) will once again author a proposal to allow undocumented students attending Indiana high schools to attain resident tuition rates at certain colleges and universities. Many students, brought to Indiana through no fault of their own, have participated in Indiana’s education system for years only to be denied the resident tuition rates to assist in their ability to attain higher learning.
Attending Monday’s press conference was Beatriz Preciado, a former student of Indianapolis Public Schools and representative of the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance.
“It was difficult to see my friends make their college choice and to know I didn’t have options,” said Ms. Preciado. “In-state tuition would help me finish my physics and mechanical engineering major and be able to contribute to Indiana’s economy because Indiana has been home for 15 years.”
If a student has attended an Indiana high school for at least three years, registers as an entering student at or is currently enrolled in a state educational institution not earlier than the fall semester of the 2016-2017 academic year and graduated from a Indiana high school or received an equivalent Indiana high school diploma, the student would receive the resident tuition rate.
“This is a small but significant step toward bettering these students’ future and fueling Indiana’s economic success,” said Lanane. “These students just want an opportunity to succeed.”
Public Safety and Driver Responsibility
To ensure the safety of all Hoosier motorists, a Senate Democratic proposal will provide protections that prevent undocumented drivers from taking to the road without the financial means necessary to operate a vehicle as required by law. Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.
By licensing undocumented Hoosiers, more drivers will be insured lowering car insurance premiums for all motorists. Currently, if an accident occurs, motorists with insurance have to cover the cost of repairing their own vehicle. The cost and risk of uninsured drivers is then passed on to the insured in the form of higher premiums. Through this measure, Senate Democrats hope to license more Hoosiers to provide for increased accountability on the road and lower insurance costs. The initiative also includes language specifically barring any license issued to be used as federal identification.
A particularly jarring issue brought to light through meetings of the Senate Democratic Latino Roundtable surrounds the lack of dialysis care within the community. While the United States offers near-full coverage for End Stage Renal Disease, undocumented immigrants are the only subset of patients not covered. Federal law gives states the flexibility to create guidelines for eligibility for Emergency Medicaid in an outpatient setting, however Indiana has adopted a near-death-only strategy. This has resulted in disparities within treatment, which rack up expensive Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit costs that are passed on to other consumers.
To combat this issue, Senate Democrats propose a North Carolina based initiative where outpatient dialysis is covered by Emergency Medicaid, noting that the treatment in itself is a form of life support for these patients.
Community leaders in the photos are:
Front row, left to right:
Morella Dominguez, Latino Health Advocate
Marlene Dotson, Indiana Latino Institute
Beatriz Preciado, Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane
The Honorable Zach Adamson, Councilman, Indianapolis City-County Council
Breanna Rodriguez, Mexican Consulate
Karla Lopez-Owens, Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance
Sayra Perez, Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance
Back row, left to right:
Samantha Paredes Scribner, School of Education, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Luis A. Palacio, PE, Health and Science Innovations, Alivio Medical Center
Kathy Souchet-Downey, Office of Congressman André Carson
Marcial Corado, Corado Immigration Law
Gilberto Perez, Center for Intercultural and International Education, Goshen College
Richard R. Aguirre, Goshen College
Henry Fernandez, USA Funds
Maria Wildridge, Marion County Prosecutors’ Office
Full audio of the press conference can be found here:
INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) has been named to a new state task force charged with taking a holistic approach toward addressing substance abuse. Arnold was tapped for the Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment, and Prevention by Governor Mike Pence earlier this month.
“I’m honored Governor Pence has appointed me to this working group and I’m impressed by the quality of appointees the governor has assembled,” said Arnold. “I’m eager to get to work and agree it’s time for an all-in approach in addressing the scourge of drug abuse and helping Hoosiers on the path toward recovery.”
Established by Executive Order, the task force will bring together Indiana experts from a variety of specialties to evaluate the growing national drug problem here in Indiana. Specifically, the task force is charged with evaluating existing resources across all areas, identifying gaps in enforcement, treatment and prevention and providing recommendations for improvement. Task force members will also identify effective strategies so federal, state, and local law enforcement can partner to combat drug abuse, analyze available resources for treatment, identify best practices for treating drug addiction, and identify programs and policies which are effective in preventing drug abuse, including early youth intervention programs.
The task force will meet monthly for the next three months – on September 16, October 15, and November 19. The meetings will take place in the north, south, and central regions and will include testimony from local experts and families impacted by the epidemic. The Task Force will provide recommendations to the Governor throughout the process of meetings, and will prepare a final report of findings and recommendations.
Sen. Arnold represents District 8 in the Indiana State Senate which encompasses the majority of LaPorte County including the City of LaPorte and the eastern part of Michigan City. It also includes western St. Joseph County and Davis, Oregon, Washington, Center and Jackson townships in Starke County. For more information on Sen. Arnold, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S8.
INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement concerning Governor Pence’s announced drug abuse task force.
“While this crisis has been apparent for more than a year, this is an issue Governor Pence has been, to this point, jarringly silent on.
“Governor Pence is right, a comprehensive approach is the only path forward toward addressing our state’s drug abuse crisis.
“It’s also something the Legislature has had to drag the governor into the 21st century on.
“Senate Democrats have advocated for a comprehensive approach to address this rising crisis.
“Candidly, I’m skeptical Governor Pence will do the right thing, when as recently as last year his idea of reform was building more prisons and doubling down on extreme sentences for low-level offenders.
“This same governor dragged his feet on implementing the Affordable Care Act for years, delaying access to critical addiction services.
“To break the cycle of drug abuse and addiction, Hoosiers need wrap around services. They need a criminal justice system with the underlying aim of putting them on the path toward recovery, not locking them into an unbreakable cycle of addiction and imprisonment.
“I’m hopeful Governor Pence and his task force will abandon the failed policies of the past and take a more thoughtful approach toward putting Hoosiers on the path to recovery.”
The Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources met on Tuesday to discuss a growing number of issues related to the way Indiana’s farming, food safety, and dining cultures work together.
The emergence of what is commonly referred to as “Farm-to-Table” dining has created a number of new challenges for the state’s food industry, all of which the committee noted as a good problem to have. Tuesday’s meeting initiated an interim-long discussion as to how to encourage this new movement while remaining vigilant and maintaining high food-safety standards.
Representatives from the Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Egg Board, Indiana Department of Agriculture, Indiana Department of Health, and Purdue Extension Office gave testimony on the topic, along with a number of local farmers and food providers.
The committee also addressed concerns with statewide food accessibility. Presenting on the need for healthy food access and financing, State Representative Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) advocated for legislation to reduce the rising number of food deserts in the state.
Food deserts are known as communities that experience both low income and low access to nutritious, fresh foods. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Low Income Communities are those with a poverty rate of 20% or greater, or a median family income of 80% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or less. A family of four making 80% of FPL has an annual income of just under $20,000.
Similarly, Low Access Communities are defined by the USDA as a community whose census tract has a population where at least 33% of people live more than one mile from a supermarket (or ten miles in a rural area).
Tying into the local foods portion of the meeting, Rep. Shackleford highlighted her proposed legislation to provide grants to projects that provide nutritious foods in under-served areas of the community. Eligible projects would include grocery stores, food cooperatives, and grocery delivery services. Currently, these programs are prevalent, but rarely deliver to areas of the community that do not have grocery stores and fresh markets available in their neighborhoods.
The committee will meet again in September to further consider proposals like Rep. Shakleford’s before making final recommendations later this fall.
State Senator Jim Arnold provides a legislative update on various issues as the 2015 Indiana legislative session enters the final weeks.
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) held an media availability in response to the governor’s request to hire 100 new Department of Child Services (DCS) caseworkers bringing the state into compliance with current caseload standards. Sen. Lanane initially raised concerns after a November budget meeting showed DCS was out of compliance with state law. Since then, he has led the effort to ensure appropriate caseload standards are met.