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Senate Democrats provide an update on needle exchange to combat HIV outbreak in southern Indiana

Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane, Assistant Democrat Leader Jean D. Breaux and Senator Mark Stoops held a media availability to discuss negotiations that occurring in the final week of the legislative session to combat the HIV outbreak in southern Indiana. The Senate Democrats offered a three-pronged approach to fight the spread of the disease that consists of needle exchanges, testing and ultimately drug treatment.

Lanane updates media regarding DCS caseworker shortage

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.

Lanane responds to governor’s State of the State

Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) responds to Governor Mike Pence’s third State of the State address with alternative policies to increase Hoosier’s lagging wages, improve health outcomes, and increase funding for public education and Dept. of Child Services case workers.

Lanane, Senate Democrats continue push for DCS funding

On Monday, Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) called on Governor Mike Pence to hire more Department of Child Services caseworkers. In a press conference, Lanane pushed the governor to meet caseload standards mandated by state law.

Senator Lanane recaps this year's legislative session during a press conference in his office on Friday morning.

Lanane to governor: Commit to protecting children, hiring DCS caseworkers

On Monday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) called on Governor Mike Pence to hire more Department of Child Services caseworkers. In a press conference, Lanane pushed the governor to meet caseload standards mandated by state law.

“The governor has an opportunity during the State of the State to make clear his commitment to protecting Hoosier children,” said Lanane. “It’s time to do the right thing and give DCS the resources it needs to hire the 77 caseworkers and comply with the law.”

During a November State Budget Committee hearing, the Department of Child Services admitted the agency was out of compliance with state statute limiting family case manager caseloads. Even after correspondence with the governor highlighting the issue and a meeting with DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura in December, the governor still omitted additional case manager funding in his recently-announced state budget proposalFor additional background information regarding DCS under-staffing and caseload management, follow this link>>

“Senate Democrats are open to taking a look at caseload standards,” said Lanane. “But in the meantime, the law is the law and we must do what it takes to ensure the safety of children.”

The Governor will give his State of the State address Tuesday at 7 P.M. from the Indiana Statehouse.

Below you can find audio and video of Sen. Lanane’s press conference:

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Organization Day kicks off 2015 legislative session

Organization Day, the first official day of the Indiana General Assembly’s 2015 legislative session, was held on November 18. Traditionally held in mid-November, Organization Day provides an opportunity for new rules to be adopted and for legislators to make arrangements for the upcoming legislative session. The Indiana Senate and House of Representatives now stand in recess and will reconvene on January 6, 2014.

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane laid out key issues for lawmakers to tackle during the 2015 session, including working to give Hoosier families a raise.

Democrats continue the push for affordable health care: A video timeline

This video timeline outlines a number of times Senate Democrats have called for the governor and Statehouse Republicans to expand healthcare to working Hoosier families over the last two years.

Since 2012, Senate Democrats have made this health care expansion a legislative priority by offering a number of proposals that would for the first time offer affordable health care options to 400,000 Hoosiers, create 30,000 high-paying jobs, and bring billions of dollars of additional economic activity to the state of Indiana.

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Democrats continue the push for affordable health care

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states were given the ability to expand Medicaid services to their most vulnerable citizens with 100% of the expansion being funded by the federal government through 2016. Since 2012, Senate Democrats have made this health care expansion a legislative priority by offering a number of proposals that would for the first time offer affordable health care options to 400,000 Hoosiers, create 30,000 high-paying jobs, and bring billions of dollars of additional economic activity to the state of Indiana.

After a year of negotiations to establish Indiana’s mechanism for expanding Medicaid under the ACA, the governor recently submitted a proposal to the federal government to expand health care coverage in Indiana. Although the final details of the proposal have not been approved by the Center for Medicaid Services (CMS), Senate Democrats are encouraged by the governor embracing the president’s health care law and working with the federal government to expand health care to working Hoosiers.

However, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have long pointed to the years of federal funding, health care coverage, job growth and economic development that have been lost due to the indecision of the governor and Statehouse Republicans.

We have compiled an easy-to-read timeline of what has taken place in Indiana government and highlighted the most significant events regarding the expansion of Medicaid in Indiana.

Medicaid Expansion Timeline

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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.