Thursday, October 8, 2015

Senate Democrats Propose Simple Change to Civil rights Law to Protect LGBT Rights

Four words and a comma: “sexual orientation and gender identity.” That's all Indiana Senate Democrats are proposing to add to the state's civil rights law to ensure statewide protection for LGBT rights. Says Senate minority leader Tim Lanane, “Someone has to come forward and say, ‘Here’s the simplest, the easiest way but yet the way which will afford the most protection.'” Democrats are prepared to lead with a straight-forward bill while Governor Pence and Republicans, still reeling from the RFRA fiasco, continue to meet behind closed doors to find a compromise that the party's right wing can accept. That will be a challenge since they argue that protecting LGBT constitutional rights infringes on their religious rights. Read more from Indiana Public Media here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Robust Local Economy Allows for City to Budget Pay Raises

Lafayette's city council has passed a city budget that provides city employees with a three percent raise, the largest in 12 years. Says Mayor Tony Roswarski, “We’re a growing community. [City employees] work very hard. We ask more and more out of them. We continue to do more with less. We think they’ve earned a three percent raise.” The budget also include some new positions, including five police officers and a building inspector. Good to know our community's finances are, under democratic administration, healthy enough that we can reward those who serve us. Read more from WLFI here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Redistricting Study Committee Discovers Partisan Divide

The initial meeting of a legislative study committee looking into redistricting Indiana revealed a difference of opinion among the participants: Democrats thought redistricting was urgently needed, but members of the Republican supermajority were pretty content with the system that keeps them in power. Go figure! Buck Creek senator Brandt Hershman was proud of the system, claiming it was not "the voodoo science that people suggest that it is, such that drawing a line on a map is ensuring an outcome." But even former State Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, a Republican appointee, criticized the lack of competitiveness in a state where more than 40 percent of lawmakers ran unopposed in the 2014 general election. The committee has two years to complete its work. Let's hope voters send a message before that! Read more here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

General Assembly Dems Endorse Gregg

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane thinks the preseason is over: “It’s time to declare that John Gregg is going to be that candidate. It’s also time to declare it’s time for change.” With that he and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath delivered the endorsements of every Democrat in the General Assembly to John Gregg, which has never been done before. “I’m happy to be able to endorse John here today,” said Pelath, “to send the message that the Democrats are unified.” Read more here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Will Pence's Weak Polling Cause Republicans to Support Expanding Civil Rights in Indiana?

Indiana political analyst Brian Howey thinks Mike Pence is in trouble: "Multiple informed and reliable sources, citing at least three recent polling sources including internal Pence campaign survey data, are telling Howey Politics Indiana that Pence’s statewide reelect numbers are 'in the low 30%' range. His favorable/unfavorables are 'upside down.'" Because of this position, Howey says that some Republicans are "attempting to forge a deal that would add sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights code that would address employment and housing concerns, with exemptions extending to hospitals and religious institutions." Will enough of the supermajority buy in to make it possible? Will the zealot governor sign on? Read more at Howey Politics here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Klinker Calls for an Indiana Hate Crimes Bill

Sheila Klinker says it's high time Indiana had a hate crime bill. Since, as she puts it, "Indiana has sort of been at the forefront of maybe not taking care of discrimination issues as we should have,” she thinks a hate crime bill "would clear a lot of that mystery that still is there about treating all people decently.” Indiana is one of only five states that don't have a hate crimes bill.

In the last session a comparable bill never got a hearing. Sheila thinks the fallout from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act may have changed the environment: “With the ramifications of last year’s session, and some of the things that were happening statewide, I think probably there will be some Republicans that will be willing to look at this bill this year.” Shiela says she'd be pleased to co-sponsor a hate crimes bill. Read more here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Purdue Dean Co-Chairs Teaching Commission with Ritz

Superintendent Glenda Ritz appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission on the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators. The commission's 49-members will include educators, key stakeholders and legislators and will develop strategies to help recruit and retain excellent educators throughout the state. The dean of Purdue's College of Education, Maryann Santos de Barona will serve as co-chair with Ritz. She voiced concerns about the current state of the teaching profession in Indiana.

Indiana has seen an 18 percent drop in the number of initial teacher li­censes issued over the past five years, and schools of education have experienced declining enrollments. Read more about the commission here.

Freedom Indiana Will Campaign for Statewide LGBT Nondiscrimination

Freedom Indiana, the statewide grassroots organization that successfully fought a constitutional marriage amendment and sounded the alarm on the economically devastating Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), today launched a campaign to update existing laws against discrimination to include gay and transgender Hoosiers. “The fallout from RFRA harmed our state’s reputation, but it also drew attention to the fact that you can be fired, denied housing or declined service in most places in Indiana if you are gay or transgender,” spokesman Chris Paulsen said. The groups's goal is to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's civil rights code that already contains protections based on race, gender, veteran status and religion. “It’s an easy solution: four words and a comma,” says Paulsen. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Democrats Ask for INDOT Communications on I-65 Wildcat Creek Bridge

Yesterday the Indiana Democratic Party requested that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) release all its communications regarding the I-65 Wildcat Creek Bridge. Party Chairman John Zody said the following:
“With more than six major accidents along the proposed INDOT detour and the state feeling a significant impact to its economy, the I-65 Bridge closure represents the headache Hoosiers have when it comes to Indiana’s D+ rated infrastructure. In just one month, their state has seen yet another one of its coveted reputations – ‘Crossroads of America’ – placed in jeopardy. Frustrated Hoosiers have the right to know if this problem was at all preventable because this bridge closure has single-handedly clogged one of the most vital transportation and economic arteries in the state. It’s time answers are brought to the table right now. Indiana’s economic and overall well-being are depending on it.”
You can read more about the Democrats' request from Indiana Talks here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tippecanoe Democrats Proud to Support Labor and United Way

Local Democrats were proud to support the local Labor Participation Committee United Way of Lafayette efforts at the 13th Annual Mini Golf Outing on August 13.  Thank you to the United Way and our Labor friends for all you do for our community!