At the Indiana Statehouse, halftime is when the State Senate considers legislation that has been approved by the House of Representatives and The House considers legislation that has been approved by the Senate. Legislation that passes both chambers with the same language then advances to the Governor to be signed into law.
Incredibly, the Statehouse Supermajority’s legislative priorities for the first half of the 2022 session do not address the needs of Hoosiers – instead they take action to make Indiana’s problems even worse.
I discovered the explanation for this recently. The truth is that supermajority lawmakers are not working for Hoosiers at all. Instead, they are pandering to their basefor their own gain.
“This is the first half of the (legislative) session, this is the positioning half. And the deadline for filing for office is February 4. And so, (Supermajority lawmakers) are trying to act very especially strong for their base so that they don’t get a primary opponent.”
– Mike Murphy, former Republican state representative. INFocus, Episode 222, January 30, 2022,
Priorities of the Statehouse Supermajority
As of Feb 7, 2022, these are the bills progressing through the state legislative process:
- HB 1001 – Limits private businesses ability to require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. This bill removes one meaningful opportunity to encourage Hoosiers to get vaccinated. It also hamstrings companies from making health decisions that they’ve determined are in the best interest of their employees, clients and industry.
- HB 1134 – This education bill includes several components that have been modeled on a Donald Trump executive order written by conservative activists. This partisan bill does nothing to actually address the real challenges our public schools face. This House bill also includes language that is found in Senate Bill 17, which did not progress after Senator Scott Baldwin suggested that teachers should remain “impartial” about Nazism during a Senate hearing on that bill. For a full rundown of all the bill’s provisions and problems, read this fact sheet:
- HB 1072 – Requires public schools to share a portion of their funding received from a referendum to local charter schools. This bill literally removes funding that the community has voted to invest in local public schoolsand gives it to other non-public schools.
- SB 356 – Allows community members to be hired as part-time teachers if they have subject matter expertise. This bill is just a band-aid to a massive teacher shortage problem that is going to get worse if it is ignored. These part-time teachers would not be required to have teacher training before or after being hired in the classroom. This bill lowers the standard of the individuals who educate students. To truly address Indiana’s teacher shortage, legislators should encourage higher teacher compensation, demonstrate the value of a career in education, improve public schools, and, most importantly, support and trust educators instead of micromanaging them.
- HB 1116 – Makes it more difficult for Hoosiers to vote. This bill requires absentee voters to provide an Indiana driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number and swear under penalty of perjury that it is impossible to attend in-person voting for any time during the 28 day period before Election Day. Currently, a voter could receive an absentee ballot by simply stating that they were unavailable to vote in-person on only Election Day and a driver’s license/SS# was not required. I could not identify any Indiana county that offered early in-person voting every day, 28 days before the 2020 Presidential election. Nor have I found a proven reason to justify making absentee voting more difficult for Hoosiers.
- HB 1077 – Removes necessity for Hoosiers who want to carry a gun to first apply for and receive a permit. Currently, this permit process is simple. It requires people who want to legally carry a gun to undergo a background check and file their fingerprints with the Indiana State Police. HB 1077 allows gun owners age 18+ to carry a handgun without a permit. The only exception would be individuals with a felony conviction or a dangerous mental illness. Law enforcement across the state (Indiana State Police, Chiefs of Police and Fraternal Order of Police) oppose the bill because licenses best inform officers in the field.
- HB1041 – Prohibits transgender girls from participating in girls sports teams in school. The author of the bill conceded that “she could not name any instances here in Indiana where a transgender girl had kept a cisgender girl from participating or winning in a particular sport.” The Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opposed this legislation because it would harm children in Indiana and further marginalize transgender youth who are already at higher risk of depression and serious mental health issues.
- HB1002 – In a legislative session that is not designed to impact the 2021-2023 budget, this bill would devote $1 Billion in reserves to enable tax cuts. Indiana has a tremendous total of $4 Billion in cash reserves. Tax cuts are certainly welcome. But to quickly execute an investment of reserves in a rush, outside a full budget review and without consideration of how reserve funds could be invested to help Hoosiers across the state, is irresponsible.
- SB 382 – Lowers taxes on some e-tobacco (vape) products. Raising taxes on tobacco products has been fully accepted as an effective way to lower the number of Hoosiers who use tobacco products. This bill makes vaping more affordable, therefore, more desirable. The Supermajority wasn’t interested in lowering taxes on a necessity like tampons but lowering the tax rate on an leisure expense like vape products is their priority. http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2022/bills/senate/382
- On a bright note, HB 1079 is thankfully moving forward! This bill adds an expressed lack of consent to Indiana rape law. Amazingly, a lack of consent is not grounds for a rape charge currently.
Rejected by the Supermajority:
- A House amendment to remove the Indiana sales tax on tampons and menstrual products was voted down by the Supermajority – again. A House bill to remove the “tampon tax” was also rejected in 2021. Products deemed “necessary” are exempt from Indiana sales tax, like groceries. For some reason, lawmakers don’t believe that menstrual products are necessary. I can’t imagine any person who has monthly periods would agree with that.
To review language and the updated status of bills moving through the 2022 legislature, visit http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2022/bills/
Real Hoosier Needs
Data proves that Indiana falls short in many areas, but the Statehouse Supermajority hasn’t effectively addressed these needs. These issues remain ignored by the Supermajority or exacerbated by their proposed legislation:
- Poor Pandemic Management: “Indiana Ranks Last on list of ‘Safest States During COVID-19’” https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2021/12/18/safest-states-us-covid-19-list-indiana-last/8952836002/
- Public Health Crisis: “Indiana has stubbornly high rates of chronic disease, obesity, smoking, and infant mortality. Additionally, emerging health threats, such as substance use disorders and resulting increases in HIV and hepatitis C, are stretching the resources of public health.” https://www.in.gov/health/files/Indiana_State_Health_Plan_I-SHIP.pdf
- Teacher Shortages in Public Schools: “96% of Indiana school districts report teacher shortages, the highest in 7 years.” https://www.tribstar.com/news/indiana_news/96-of-districts-report-teacher-shortages/article_a8400183-c662-5e91-89ea-9cd84611ebc5.html
- Weak Business Environment: “Indiana ranks 41st in country for Life, Health & Inclusion and ranks 43rd in Workforce.” – America’s Top States for Business, 2021 CNBC.
- Damaged Democracy: Indiana has extremely poor voter turnout compared to the rest of the nation and it is getting worse. Indiana ranked 38th in voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election, fell to 41st in 2016. Most recently, Indiana sank to 46th in 2020 voter turnout, according to the 2021 Indiana Civic Health Index — a biennial study by the Indiana Bar Foundation, Indiana University, IUPUI, the Indiana Supreme Court, and state and national citizenship organizations. Legislators should be encouraging voters, not placing obstacles in their path. https://www.tribstar.com/news/news_columns/mark-bennett-indiana-climbing-national-ladder-in-civic-health-except-for-voting/article_08ba1cfb-8e88-5a75-8407-3b2cac240806.html
- Gun Violence: “Indiana ranks 31st in the country for 2019 Firearm Mortality” – Center for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm
- Missed Opportunity to Legalize Medical Cannabis: Indiana is now one of just 13 states that has not legalized medical cannabis. https://cbs4indy.com/news/national-world/mississippi-becomes-37th-state-to-legalize-medical-marijuana/
Yours in Service,
Indiana State Senate Candidate, District 31