JCRC Legislative Update by fionan


FEBRUARY 21, 2007 FIRST HALF SUMMARY The first half of the 2007 session of the Indiana General Assembly will be coming to a close this week in the House and early next week in the Senate. I’m happy to report that JCRC has been able to support more bills than we have opposed, which is a welcomed change! It’s wonderful to be able to stand in support of measures that promote economic justice, improve education, protect children and older adults, promote pregnancy prevention, and take action against the genocide in Darfur. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the usual suspects with respect to women’s reproductive rights; and SJR7, which will amend the Indiana Constitution to define marriage, successfully passed out of the Senate. In total, we have over 300 bills which we are tracking. Below is a brief summary of our priority issues. Find out who your State Legislator is at www.in.gov/legislative/. Call the State House and ask the operator to connect your Legislator’s Legislative Assistant:  House switchboard: 232-9600; (800) 382-9841  Senate switchboard: 232-9400; (800) 382-9467

HB1484 – Sudan Divestment (GiaQuinta, Noe, Pierce, Porter, Crawford, Dickinson) TESTIFIED in SUPPORT; JCRC is leading statewide coalition JCRC is working closely with the national organization the Sudan Divestment Task Force, as well as AJWS and many faith community leaders in Indiana to move this bill forward – in fact, JCRC is the only organization in this coalition that has an advocate “on the ground” in the state house, so Lindsey is devoting much of her time on this important issue. The bill passed out of Committee unanimously. We successfully thwarted a 2nd reading amendment to add the country of Venezuela, and we’re waiting for the bill to come before the entire House, probably today (Wed. Feb. 21). This bill would require the Public Employees Retirement Fund and the Teachers Retirement Fund, both publicly funded, to remove any investments or holdings in companies that do business with the Government of Sudan and help perpetuate the genocide taking place in Darfur. TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Call/Email your Representative: “Vote yes on HB1484 and help ensure that Indiana’s taxpayer dollars are NOT funding the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.” HB1800 – Early Education Programs (Porter, Micon, Robertson) TESTIFIED in SUPPORT This is the House Full Day Kindergarten bill authored by Representative Porter, requiring full day programs to be implemented in all schools beginning in the 2007-2008 school year. It passed successfully out of Cmte and also out of Ways & Means. We are waiting for the bill to appear on the 3rd reading calendar. TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Email/Call your Representative: “Vote yes on HB1800 – the time is NOW for Full Day K.” SB567 – Full Day Kindergarten (Lubbers, Becker, Rogers, Simpson, Breaux, et al) SUPPORT This bill would phase in full day kindergarten in a three year period. Students eligible for free or reduced lunch starting with the 2008 school year, students enrolled in a school corporation whose percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch is greater the state median staring with the 2009 school year, and all students starting with the 2010 school year. We are waiting for the bill to appear on the 3rd reading calendar. TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Email/Call your Senator: “Vote yes on SB567 – the time is NOW for FDK.”

HB1059 – Holocaust Education (Kersey, Porter, Robertson, Bosma, Klinker – Lubbers, Skinner) TESTIFIED in SUPPORT This bill has been offered for a number of years by Representative Clyde Kersey from Terre Haute on behalf of Eva Kor the Holocaust survivor that founded and operates the CANDLES remembrance museum in Terre Haute. The bill in its original form would have made it mandatory to teach an entire course on the holocaust but was amended to make a unit on the holocaust mandatory in U.S. history classes in the state. It passed unanimously from both the Education Committee and the entire House of Representatives. Senator Lubbers is the lead sponsor on the Senate; it’s been assigned to her Education Committee. HB1037 – Home energy assistance sales tax exemption (Micon, Crawford, Murphy, Day – Alting, Lanane, Becker) TESTIFIED in SUPPORT This bill will make the low income home energy heating assistance program permanent. It passed out of both the Commerce Committee and Ways & Means unanimously, and then passed out of the House 99-0. Action: Call/Email your State Senator in the next week: “Please help see that HB1037, which will make permanent the home energy heating and assistance program, is heard, and then to vote YES when it reaches the floor.” HB1027 – Minimum Wage & Economic Matters (Day, Micon, Hoy – Bray, Becker, Rogers, Lanane) TESTIFIED in SUPPORT This house bill has been championed for many years by Representative Day of Marion and seeks to raise the minimum wage in Indiana. Rep. Day’s bill would raise the minimum wage in three stages: to $6 on September 1, 2007, $6.75 on March 1, 2008, and $7.50 on September 1, 2008. This bill increases Indiana's minimum hourly wage to $6 on September 1, 2007, $6.75 on March 1, 2008, and $7.50 on September 1, 2008. The bill passed the House 71-29 and is being sponsored by Senator Richard Bray in the Senate and ahs been assigned to the Pensions & Labor Committee, which is chaired by Senator Kruse. Action: Call/Email your State Senator in the next week: “Please help see that HB1027 (minimum wage), is heard in the Pensions & Labor Cmte, and then to vote YES when it reaches the floor.”

SJR7 - Resolution Defining Marriage TESTIFIED in OPPOSITION This is the constitutional amendment seeking to define marriage and the “legal incidents of marriage.” JCRC Gov’t Affairs Cmte member, Mark Sniderman, testify eloquently in opposition to the Resolution. It passed out of Cmte and then the entire Senate (39-10). It’s being sponsored in the House by Reps. Turner and Pelath. It has not yet been officially assigned a Cmte, though it’s likely to go to Judiciary, which is chaired by Rep. Linda Lawson. Action: Call/Email Speaker Bauer, Rep. Lawson: “Please don’t hear SJR 7” Action: Call/Email your Representative: “Encourage the Speaker and Rep. Lawson NOT to hear the Resolution, and if it reaches the floor, please vote NO on SJR 7.” SB135 – Life at Conception & Fetal Pain TESTIFIED in OPPOSITION This bill authored by Pat Miller of Indianapolis is the same language that was offered last year concerning fetal pain and life at conception. A number of amendments offered by Senator Vi Simpson of Bloomington attempt to make the bill more neutral stating that birth control does not constitute abortion, a women must be given information on the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term, and that there are differing views in both the medical and religious communities on whether life actually begins at conception. Sen. Miller offered her own amendment, which she claimed was a compilation/compromise of Simpson’s language. But, Indiana Right to Life wants legislators to OPPOSE the language that contraception is NOT abortion! She will call the bill for another vote this afternoon.

TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Email/Call your Senator: “Vote NO on SB135. This bill ignores the fundamentally religious and philosophical nature of the question of when life begins by establishing a particular religious opinion as legal fact; this is a clear violation of the separation of church and state and sets a dangerous precedent. Please vote against any version of this bill that fails to support physicians by conflicting with science.” SB194 - Hospital privilege requirement for physicians performing abortions OPPOSE This bill would effectively close down abortion clinics by forcing all physicians who perform abortions to hold hospital privileges at a hospital in the county were the procedure is performed. It would be extremely impractical for the few physicians who perform these procedures to hold hospital privileges and unlikely that many hospitals would even offer them the privileges to begin with. After a small victory (a 5-5 tie vote in Cmte on Feb. 14th), Miller held the bill until Feb. 20th when the vote was taken again, this time moving it to the floor of the Senate. TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Email/Call your Senator: “Vote NO on SB194.” SB221 – Rules for Abortion Clinics & Birthing Center OPPOSE In its original form, this bill would have removed the grandfather clause on physical plant standards for abortion clinics. The deadline language was removed in Committee, leaving a bill that requires the Department of Health to do something can do and already has done. The bill failed for a tie vote (5-5). (A tie means a bill has “failed” and eligible to be called again – it’s not “defeated” until there are more “No” votes than “Yes.”) It’s possible for Sen. Miller to call the bill for another vote this afternoon. TAKE ACTION TODAY (FEB. 21): Email/Call your Senator: “Vote NO on SB221.”

HB1029 State funded textbooks – in Ways & Means committee HB1009 Privatization oversight – passed out of committee unanimously, and the House (52-45) HB1253 Employment of illegal aliens – passed out of committee, reassigned to Rules HB1459 Bias crimes – passed out of committee HB1778 Custodian of a child in need of services – passed out of committee SB24 Death penalty and mental illness – held in committee SB93 Health facility sprinklers for fire safety – passed out of Senate SB190 Food establishment sanitary requirements exception – passed out of Senate SB193 Comprehensive care bed moratorium extension – passed out of committee SB208 Prior authorization for nursing home admissions – passed out of committee SB262 Public school transfers – passed out of Senate SB114 Health Provider reimbursement agreements – held in committee SB503 Healthier Indiana insurance program – awaiting second reading SB505 Physician Medicaid reimbursement rates – in committee

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