To make an Indiana college degree accessible to more Hoosiers, State Senator Earline Rogers has pushed Senate Bill (SB) 207 through the legislative process. The proposal seeks to restore in-state tuition eligibility to a group of students who lost their eligibility as a result of a 2011 law requiring proof of citizenship. Students will now have the chance resume their education who were forced to withdraw after their tuition rates more than tripled. After changes made by the House, honorably discharged veterans will also benefit from SB 207 by becoming eligible for resident tuition rates as long as they enroll at a public university within 12 months of leaving the service. The measure aims to increase access to higher education for individuals who wish to reside in Indiana. SB 207 currently awaits Senate approval of House changes.
On Monday, Senate Democrats offered eighteen substantial amendments to House Bill (HB) 1001, legislation crafting the state’s next biennial budget. Proposed changes to the measure included investments in the areas of education, infrastructure, and health care.
“Hoosier families know that sound fiscal footing relies on a foundation of good investments,’ said State Senator Karen Tallian. “Our budget recommendations are comprised of strategic contributions our state can make now that pay off in the long-run.”
Sen. Tallian, who serves as Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, continued saying that proposed changes to the budget reflect discussions Hoosier families have around their kitchen tables and endows the state’s resources towards strengthening Indiana’s network of communities.
Improving Hoosiers’ health
Budget proposals offered by Senate Democrats included initiatives to expand health care coverage to 400,000 working Hoosiers. Recommendations included expanding Medicaid when the cost is fully paid for by the federal government, structuring an expansion after the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan and creating a contingency plan if the governor’s proposed expansion is rejected. Democrats continued to reiterate the 30,000 jobs expanding coverage would create as a strong basis to cover more Hoosiers, though the initiatives were rejected along party-line votes.
Sen. Tallian explained why offering an alternative health care component was an important addition to the budget:
SEN. TALLIAN: “The Senate Democrats today offered four amendments that would have addressed Medicaid expansion, health care expansion for Indiana…”
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Investing in pre-k, capping voucher funding
Acknowledging the strong support for the importance of early education and the need to oversee the state’s school voucher program, Senate Democrats offered a package of amendments to improve educational outcomes for all Hoosier children. An initiative offered by State Senator Earline Rogers would have created a pilot preschool program to evaluate best practices. An additional amendment would have separated the funding appropriated to the state’s voucher program and capped the amount of funds diverted from public schools.
SEN. ROGERS: “Well, what it would have done was, for us to stop and take a look at the vouchers and to not proceed until we were certain that the dollars were there for the other public schools…”
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SEN. ROGERS: “We’ve always thought that early childhood education was the missing piece of the puzzle that we needed for education reform. You know studies show…”
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Rebuilding local roads
An amendment offered by Senate Democrats to restore transportation funding back to the levels included in the House-passed budget were rejected along party lines on Monday. The amendment would have allowed more flexibility and control for local governments. Senate Democrats aimed to give those communities additional infrastructure funding to be allocated to where attention is most needed in their communities. State Senator Tim Skinner authored the amendment as a means of injecting immediate dollars into communities to begin their local roads projects.
SEN. SKINNER: “Well, I think every one of us recognizes that we have not done enough in the last few years because of the recession to stay on top of the funding that we need for local roads…”
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Senate Democrats will continue to push for these common sense initiatives as the budget process moves forward.
A complete listing of Senate amendments can be found at: http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2013&session=1&request=getBill&docno=1001 .
In February, the Indiana Senate Democrats launched an interactive campaign to learn what you wanted to know about state government. Over 300 constituents weighed in, recording 90 questions and logging more than 5,000 votes.
The three most popular questions and answers straight from Senate Democratic Caucus members are featured below. Thank you to those citizens who participated in this online conversation.
“Citizens United turned corporations into people. One state is even considering a law to allow corporations to vote in elections. It’s time for Indiana to ban corporations from buying our politicians and running (ruining) the Great State of Indiana.” – Brett from Shelbyville, IN
“With all the money that was cut from education, and the new tax credit we are getting, why can’t we try to fight back now to invest in education and get some or most of those funds back? I don’t know any other country that doesn’t recognize that they must invest in the education of their country’s children to survive and to strive forward. Every time there are cuts, it is in education.” – Community member
Benefits for Elected Officials
“Seeing how the rest of the country is struggling, and our debt just keeps increasing with no end in sight, and no help from our politicians, don’t you think that politicians should be the first in line to help cut the deficit by eliminating their endless perks and lifetime benefits?” – Anthony from Munster, IN
State Senator Earline Rogers addresses the 2nd ranked question in the Senate Democrats “Open for Questions” online question and answer session. An Indiana constituent asked, “With all the money that was cut from education, and the new tax credit we are getting, why can’t we try to fight back now to invest in education and get some or most of those funds back? I don’t know any other country that doesn’t recognize that they must invest in the education of their country’s children to survive and to strive forward. Every time there are cuts, it is in education.”
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) held a press conference today introducing the caucus’s 2013 legislative agenda. The IBLC plans to advocate for initiatives that impact all Hoosiers, specifically children’s issues, economic development, K-12 education and preschool, higher education, and health care.
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus was established in 1979 in an effort to focus the legislative initiatives of the Indiana General Assembly’s African-American legislators. Since its creation, the IBLC has worked to promote their mission through bi-partisan events, educational symposiums and job fairs.
New IBLC leadership for the 118th General Assembly includes State Senator Lonnie Randolph as Chairman, Representative John Bartlett as Vice-Chairman, Senator Greg Taylor as Treasurer/Secretary and Representative Robin Shackleford as Chaplain.
Senator Randolph: “The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, to this end, the members hold fast to the following principles…” (1:08)
Senator Rogers: “We have been trying to get preschool…” (0:24)
State Senator Earline Rogers reports that Senate Bill 267 and Senate Bill 268 have passed the Indiana House and will return to the Senate for her final approval. Both authored by Rogers, SB 267 deals with the creation of programs to educate students on the dangers of childhood sexual abuse. Senate Bill 268 establishes an advisory committee to promote early education.
Senator Earline Rogers updates constituents on the status of her legislation, Senate Bill 267. The bill, referred to as Erin’s Law, would enact a program educating youth on the dangers of childhood sexual abuse. Sen. Rogers also discusses progress made on House Bill 1264, the Little Calumet River levee bill, aimed at protecting Northwest Indiana communities around the Little Cal from future flooding.
Senate Democrats rallied one last time on Wednesday to speak out against the contentious “Right to Work” bill as it gained passage in the Indiana State Senate. With a vote of 28 to 22, House Bill 1001 was sent to Governor Daniels who promptly signed the legislation this afternoon. Click the links below to listen to Senate Democratic Caucus members floor comments in opposition to the legislation. (Read more about events of Feb. 1 >>)
SEN. SIMPSON: “Weeks and months from now I want you to ask yourself this question; Was it worth it?…”
SEN. SIMPSON: “Right to work is a race to the bottom, it’s a downward spiral…”
SEN. ROGERS : “There’s a different relationship between management and unions now and we don’t need to interfere…”
SEN. SKINNER: “I don’t believe for a minute that companies are going to flock to Indiana…”
State Senator Earline S. Rogers (D-Gary) offered a resolution in the State Senate today urging EdisonLearning, Inc., to take into consideration the rich history of Gary Theodore Roosevelt High School’s athletics program when making the decision to continue the school’s sports programs. Senate Resolution 18 was adopted by the Senate by a voice vote.
Under a decision by the Indiana Department of Education, EdisonLearning, Inc., a private turnaround school operator, has been selected to operate Roosevelt High School for four years beginning next year. Gary Roosevelt is one of seven Indiana schools in its sixth year of academic probation, resulting in the implementation of a turnaround plan under state law.
“The goal of this turnaround process is to improve the achievement levels of Roosevelt students. I see athletics as a way of enhancing those efforts,” Sen. Rogers said. “School athletic programs provide so many benefits to students and the community. For students they build character, provide scholarship opportunities, reduce the dropout rate and promote healthy lifestyles.
“School activities impact a community by bringing it together, involving parents and the entire community in a student’s education.”