The Indiana legislature started this week. Many of the news stories marking the start have already begun speculation over whether anything will be accomplished this session. The big question mark surrounds the House Democratic caucus and their leader, Rep. Patrick Bauer who took his team to Illinois last year shutting down the works for fives weeks. Will he pull a similar stunt to appease the union activists already showing up in large numbers to protest HB 1001, the Right to Work legislation?
Right to Work may be the dominant focus because of the high stakes and political drama surrounding it, but there will be 1,000 other bills filed for consideration. Here are a few that we are watching at the moment:
House Bill 1014 - This bill by Rep. Davisson is a health care professionals conscience clause that protects pharmacists, nurses and physicians from being forced to dispense a drug or device that would be used to cause an abortion or the death of a person through assisted suicide. The bill protects these workers from employment termination or punishment for refusing to violate their values. It also protects them as a cause in a lawsuit should they not want to partake in such life ending situations that could escalate in the days ahead under "Obamacare." A similar law that prevents doctors from having to participate in abortion or abortion training has protected doctors in Indiana for many years.
Senate Bill 183 - I mentioned this bill authored by Senator Banks before the holidays. It sets a few basic statewide regulations for sexually oriented businesses like preventing people under 21 from working in a strip club. This bill will encounter fierce opposition from the sex and vice industry, even though many cities in Indiana have passed far stricter ordinances, (and still could under this law.) Your contacting your State Senator about SB 183 is very important to having it receive a hearing and consideration this short session.
Senate Bill 198 - This bill by Senator Eckerty removes a provision in the school choice scholarship program that restricts vouchers from families already sending their child to a private school when the program began in August.
Senate Bill 126 - This bill by Senator Tallian is a mandatory kindergarten bill that requires all children to be enrolled in a kindergarten program. I have asked the Home School Legal Defense Association to review this bill for us in regard to the harm this could do to home school families in terms of parental rights and verification of a kindergarten program. When I served on the Governor's Education Roundtable under Governor's O'Bannon and Kernan we were told that at least 96% of Hoosier children were attending kindergarten under our voluntary law.
Senate Bill 214 - This bill has a host of authors, almost all of whom are Democrats who opposed the school scholarship program. For this reason, I am concerned about the ultimate intent of this bill. It adds more red tape to private schools accepting vouchers including ISTEP provisions, which are fairly minimal in this introduced version. However, the bill also requires that any private school receiving even one voucher student conduct an annual financial audit. The bill seems to believe that parents choosing a private school are not capable of picking a sound local school for their own child.
You can contact your State Senator about any issue or Senate Bill at 1-800-382-9467. You can contact your State Representative about any issue or House Bill at 1-800-382-9842. You can find your legislator at the top of our web site: www.afain.net