Lanane, Breaux mourn loss of prolific leader, Ways & Means Chairman, and mentor Bill Crawford

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.


LANANE: Inferior asphalt investigation should spur larger conversation on infrastructure

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.”



Senate Democrats announce legislative package supporting Latino families

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.

Resident Tuition

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.

Dialysis Treatment

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.


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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:


Arnold named to task force to combat drug abuse

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



LANANE: Pence’s support for war on drugs clouds task force’s effectiveness

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.”



Farm-to-table & Food Deserts: Ag Committee conducts first meeting of the year

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 desert map

Click here for an interactive map of Indiana’s food deserts.

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.


Sign on and tell Gov. Pence to fix our bridges now

The closing of a bridge along Interstate 65 near Lafayette has underscored the need to address Indiana’s burgeoning infrastructure funding crisis. The bridge over Wildcat Creek will be closed until mid-September according to officials, forcing the 24,000 vehicles that traverse the bridge daily to find alternative routes.

The bridge is one of 365 the Indiana Department of Transportation acknowledges in poor condition, a number expected to grow to 672 in a decade.

SIGN ON and tell the governor let’s invest in our future and ensure the bridges millions of Hoosiers travel across every day are safe.

CLICK for an interactive look at DCS caseloads around the state.

Dept. of Child Services failing to comply with caseload mandates in 18 of 19 regions

The Department of Child Services delivered its annual report to the State Budget Committee in Lafayette on Friday. The presentation comes amid recent developments, including an announcement that the Department would hire 113 additional family case managers to meet the rising tide of abuse and neglect among Indiana’s most vulnerable children and that the agency remains out of compliance with state law mandating caseload limits in 18 of DCS’s 19 geographical regions.

FY2015 DCS Annual Budget Committee Report>>

Struggling to meet the demand

In November 2014 DCS reported that the agency was out of compliance with state law requiring family case managers to maintain caseloads of no more than 12 investigations into child abuse and neglect and 17 ongoing cases in 18 of DCS’s 19 geographical regions. Senate Democrats have maintained that higher than legally-permitted caseloads put an unneeded burden on family case managers (FCM) already grappling with difficult responsibilities.

Since then, the agency has worked closely with Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to address concerns. Those efforts included the hiring of 100 additional case managers at the end of the 2015 legislative session and ongoing face-to-face meetings with key Department staff on needed structural reforms.

Rising reports of child abuse and neglect

The agency and its case managers continue to face mounting reports of child abuse and neglect. In 2009, DCS detailed 109,489 reports of alleged child and abuse. That number rose to 187,475 in 2013, an increase of 71 percent. In 2014, DCS’s centralized hotline received 198,684 allegations of child abuse or neglect, an increase of 5.9 percent from 2013.

Indiana Dept. of Child Services 1217 Weighted Caseload Report for SFY15

CLICK for an interactive look at DCS caseloads around the state.

CLICK for an interactive look at DCS caseloads around the state.

In their Budget Committee report, DCS officials noted that the number of investigative and ongoing cases family case managers are handling jumped dramatically. At the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, DCS had 21,891 ongoing cases compared to 17,471 at the end of FY2014, an increase of 25.2 percent.

As a result of rising caseloads and staffing shortfalls, DCS continues to fail to comply with state law in 18 of the 19 geographical regions.

Staff turnover

DCS leadership also reported an increase in negative staff turnover – the percentage of family case managers leaving the agency entirely – in FY2015. In a press conference Thursday, the Department acknowledged a negative staff turnover rate of nearly 20 percent, peaking in April 2015 at 20 percent. That’s more than an 18 percent increase in negative staff turnover from FY14 when 16.9 percent of family case managers left the Department. In exit interviews, FCMs note the top three reasons for leaving were: job pressure and work-related stress; workload (working conditions/schedule); and family circumstances.

Structural reform

To address caseloads, turnover and other structural issues raised by both Senate Democrats and confirmed in a March 2015 report from Deloitte Consulting, the Department has embarked on a number of promising reforms.

READ letter from Sen. Lanane to DCS officials requesting information on progress made toward structural reforms laid out in Deloitte report>>

For instance, DCS employees will have access to three free, confidential in-person counseling visits with a licensed therapist, per issue, per year, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those same services will extend to members of employees’ household. The Department is moving forward with other initiatives, including more thorough supervisor and technology training, a high-level point person overseeing reforms, and forward-looking hiring processes among others.

Moving forward, Senate Democrats will continue to work with DCS staff to achieve their long-term goal of making sure Hoosier children are protected.


LANANE: DCS case worker hiring only the beginning

INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement regarding the governor’s announcement concerning the Department of Child Services (DCS).

“Today we must recognize that while this is progress, we are only now achieving the bare minimum required by law to protect children.

“Hoosiers know the minimum isn’t enough.

“There are still areas of the state where significant gaps exist, where family case managers are handling many times the number of cases legally permitted under the law.

“The unthinkable burden this circumstance places on case managers and the children and families they are charged with protecting is inexcusable.

“This is encouraging progress, but we have a long way to go.

“Ensuring that new and existing caseworkers receive the training, guidance and support they need in an environment that reduces burnout and enhances continuity is ultimately what we must achieve.

 “Senate Democrats will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with the Department of Child Services and will remain a committed legislative partner in the effort to protect our most vulnerable.

“Protecting neglected and abused children is of the highest priority. We cannot continue to pad the surplus while leaving our most vulnerable Hoosiers behind.

“This is only the beginning. The true test of the governor’s commitment comes now, over the weeks and months it will take to make the structural changes required.”


Your Guide to the Indiana State Fair

It’s that time of year again.  The Indiana State Fair has begun as the state celebrates the Year of the Farmer.  Here is a helpful guide to make sure Hoosiers are aware of all of the new attractions and deals that the fair has to offer.


Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online for $9 (plus a convenience charge) along with parking passes to speed up your entry, and Midway Ride bracelets that will be only $20 until August 9th. For a complete list of admission information and to purchase tickets ahead of time, click here>>

Musical Entertainment

Headlining acts include Meghan Trainer  on August 11th, along with Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias  the 13th, and Jake Owen takes over the stage for some singing and dancing on the 14th. Click here for ticket information>> For a more affordable option, the Free Stage has an extensive line-up this ear featuring acts such as the Indigo Girls, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Village People, and more.

Food and dining

It wouldn’t be the Indiana State Fair without a variety of food options ranging from typical, to wild. Each year, the fair host a contest to dub a dish the Indiana State Fair’s Signature Food. You can find this year’s winner, the Smoked Pig Patty, in the IN Pork Association’s tent.

Two-Dollar Tuesdays are also back this year, giving fair-goers the opportunity to purchase select food items for just $2 each.

Discount Days

From college students and members of the military, to days you simply need to print off a coupon, the fair’s Discount Days should help keep costs down throughout the next two weeks. For a full list of savings each day, follow this handy guide>>

This year’s fair is  shaping up to be an exciting and all inclusive experience for everyone. Don’t forget to share your experiences online via Twitter (@IndyStateFair) and Facebook using the hashtag “#YroftheFarmer.