Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Klinker Concerned About Education Funding as Legislative Session Ends

The just-concluded legislative session was, according to Sheila Klinker, conducted with “much more civility” than recent sessions, but Klinker remained concerned about the level of funding and the distribution of funds for education. “We came close but we did not restore the whole $300 million that was cut,” Klinker said. “And the program to fund preschool didn’t go through.” She was also concerned about bailing out failed charter schools and the expansion of vouchers:
“We spent $91 million dollars to bail out failed charter schools yet we’re not helping school corporations that had to borrow money when state funding was cut in the last two years. They expanded the vouchers so a family can earn $84,000 and receive a voucher and send their children to other schools. We should have given that money to public schools.”
You can read reactions of other area legislators from the Journal and Courier here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bill Reducing Required Prep for School Superintendents Passes

Shiela Klinker is opposing a bill to reduce the required qualifications for the position of school superintendent. Klinker argues that the superintendent should have classroom experience. She says running a school corporation requires specialized knowledge that can only be gained by going through the superintendent licensure process. The bill was also opposed by Republican Rep. Randy Truitt and Sen. Ronnie Alting. However, it passed the House on Monday and is expected to signed by Governor Pence later this week. Read more from WBAA here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Klinker Backs Program To Help Hoosiers Keep Their Homes

Sheila Klinker has written an op-ed for the Journal and Courier announcing an expansion of the federal government's Hardest Hit fund which aims to provide mortgage assistance to families in states hardest hit by the housing downturn. Indiana has received $221 million in this fund. Support has been expanded from $18,000 to $30,000 per family. It is anticipated that the program will help 10,000 Indiana families. You can read Sheila's guest column here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Donnelly's Votes on Gun Safety Measures

Several gun safety measures were voted on in the Senate today, and,sadly, all failed to achieve the agreed-upon threshold of 60 votes. (Apparently Harry Reid set this rule to ensure that NRA amendments wouldn't pass; none did, but neither did anything else.) Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly voted for the Manchin-Toomey expanded background checks amendment, that was considered to have the best chance of passing. Donnelly voted for a Republican- and NRA-backed amendment that would allow carrying concealed weapons in all states. He voted for an amendment that makes gun trafficking a federal crime and strengthens the penalties against “straw purchasers." He voted for a concealed weapon reciprocity bill. He votes against Sen. Feinstein's assault weapons ban. He voted for expanding veterans' gun rights. He voted against the high-capacity magazine amendment. Senator Coats voted the party line in each case. Read more about the votes from the Wahington Post here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Columnist Howey Supports "Common Sense" Gun Measures

"For the life of me, I don’t see how expanded background checks for gun purchases is an assault on the Second Amendment," says Indiana political columnist Brian Howey. He contrasts Joe Donnelly's “with gun rights come responsibility” approach to "hyperventilating" Second Amendment supporters like Dan Coats, who says "The Reid-Schumer bill goes too far and expands the government’s power to regulate, monitor and control the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms."

Howey concludes as follows: "We need common sense, statistical analysis, metrics and some innovation. The hysteria, political posturing and propaganda are an affront to the parents of the Newtown kids and teachers now resting in Connecticut graves." Read Howey's column here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

President Gives Weekly Address to Sandy Hook Mom

Today President Obama took the unusual step of turning his weekly address 0ver to Francine Wheeler, one of the Sandy Hook parents who have had such a powerful influence on legislators, to make an appeal for common sense gun safety legislation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Donnelly Supports Marriage Equality

Senator Joe Donnelly has added his voice to the growing chorus of voices supporting gay couples' right to marry. Here's what he wrote on his Facebook page:
“In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”
Only four Democratic Senators have not publicly backed same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Here is coverage of Donnelly's evolution on this issue.

Friday, April 5, 2013

MoveOn Petitions Donnelly on Marriage Equality

MoveOn.org is organizing a petition campaign to persuade Sen. Joe Donnelly to support marriage equality and to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act. He is one of eight Democratic "holdouts" they have identified. The Donnelly petition had been signed by 2,522 people by Tuesday evening, according to the website, topped only by the 3,632 signatures for Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. Donnelly's language on this issue gives some hints of flexibility:
"I have said that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I'm keeping an eye on this. This area continues to move very quickly. And so I'm watching to see what happens, not only in the court but also in our communities as well."
Read more about the petition effort here. You can access the MoveOn.Org here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Legislation Calls for Armed Guards in Every Indiana School

When the NRA's Wayne LaPierre responded to New Town with the suggestion that school personnel be armed to the teeth, it was hard to take that ludicrous proposal seriously, but apparently Indiana Republican legislators did. Seriously enough that the House Education Committee proposed legislation that would mandate an armed protection officer for each school. These officers could be trained principals, teachers, staff members, police officers or security guards. "This is a common-sense approach to a horrible situation," said Rep. Jim Lucas, who led the effort to add the protection-officer mandate to Senate Bill 1. Should the amendment be accepted, Indiana would be the only state to have such a requirement. Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Pence don't agree with the plan, with Pence thinking armed protection officers should be local option. Speculation is that the Republican budget with find ten million dollars to pay for training and firearms. Read more here and here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Committee Votes to Require Pence to Negotiate on Medicare Expansion

Relations between the Governor and his Republican supermajority in the legislature keep on being interesting. On Monday, the House Public Health Committee voted to require Gov. Pence to negotiate with the federal government to gain $10 billion in expanded Medicaid funds to provide healthcare coverage for more than 400,000 uninsured Hoosiers in the Affordable Care Act. Pence has insisted that he will only expand the Healthy Indiana Plan instead of Medicaid. The legislation, if passed by the House and Senate, would require him to broaden those discussions. “We want the (Pence) administration to make a good-faith effort, its best effort, to create an option to cover these uninsured Hoosiers,” said Rep. Ed Clere, chair of the House Public Health Committee. Read more here.