With the Indiana General Assembly over the halfway point, here are the major bills IFI has been tracking this Session:
- Unfortunately, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long decided to delay a vote on the Marriage Amendment due to the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled to rule on marriage this summer. Barring a ruling by the high court mandating so-called same-sex "marriage", the Indiana House and Senate are set to vote on the Marriage Amendment one more time during the 2014 Session of the Indiana General Assembly, placing marriage protection on the ballot in November of 2014.
- Already this Session the Indiana Senate passed two bills supported by IFI, SB 489 and SB 371. SB 489 requires abortion providers to document that they gave women the option of an ultrasound before going forward with a surgical abortion. Previous legislation mandated that women get the option of an ultrasound, but oversight into holding abortion providers accountable for actually documenting that process has been non-existent. SB 371 corrects a major oversight in Indiana law by requiring health and safety standards at abortion facilities where abortion drugs are administered. Both bills are in the Indiana House for consideration.
Gov. Pence 10% Tax Cut for Families
- In his proposed budget to the Indiana General Assembly, Governor Mike Pence proposed a 10% income tax cut for all Hoosier families. Moms and Dads are doing the best they can to raise the next generation, but they need some help. Raising the next generation of Hoosier leaders is expensive, so Hoosier families deserve to keep more of their own hard earned money. IFI was disappointed that this tax cut was not included in the House budget. However, there is still plenty of time to work this important tax relief for families into the budget if House and Senate members have the will.
Protecting Minors (SB 344)
- SB 344 would create an email and cell phone number registry similar to the "do no call list". It would prevent those businesses that produce goods or services that are illegal for minors to use or possess from texting or emailing advertising for those goods or services to minors and others who wish to be added to the list. SB 344 passed the Senate 48-2. It is now in the House Judiciary Committee.
Re-evaluating Common Core (SB 193)
- SB 193 would halt the implementation of the Common Core academic standards in Indiana until they can be evaluated with a fiscal analysis and be given public hearings around the state. When the Common Core was adopted years ago there was not a true public process for evaluating the change and the public has been generally unaware the this major shift in education policy. SB 193 would give the people a say and give some greater scrutiny to a serious change that has mainly slipped under the radar. Aside from the potential increased cost of shifting to the Common Core, experts are saying that the new standards would actually be worse than our current standards. Dumbed down standards at a higher price is not good public policy. SB 193 passed the Indiana Senate and is now in the Indiana House Education Committee where Chairman Behning is refusing to allow a hearing.
Reduce Parental Rights (SB 171)
- SB 171 is a well intentioned bill. Supporters of the bill want to give grandparents and great-grandparents greater access to their grandchildren or great-grandchildren. However, the bill would allow grandparents and great-grandparents the ability to drag responsible parents into court and put the burden of proof on the parents to explain to a judge why they aren't allowing the grandparents or great-grandparents to visit as much as they would like. Public policy must err on the side of parental rights. SB 171 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but did not have the votes to pass our of committee. Therefore it was not voted on and died.
- HB 1423 attempts to force Indiana schools to implement new "anti-bullying" policy. Preventing bullying is a legitimate policy goal that IFI supports. However, HB 1423 goes about it in the wrong way. The bill would create a new definition of bullying so broad that it could create serious free speech and religious liberties issues. In addition, the bill mandates that school corporations address "bullying" issues (under the new over broad and vague definition) anywhere they occur. This could potentially include minor squabbles between students at a weekend sleepover. Bullying is a serious issue and needs to be addressed with policy that will actually reduce bullying and not create more problems than it solves. HB 1423 passed the Indiana House and is now in the Senate Education Committee.
- Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defending Freedom have come together to address bullying and other education issues in a positive way. At www.truetolerance.org there are policy recommendations and other information that can help Indiana schools develop rules that will protect students from bullying while protecting free speech and religious liberties.
- Call your State Representative and urge him or her to support SB 489, SB 371, SB 344, SB 193 and the Pence 10% tax cut. These are all policies IFI supports that are dependent upon future action by the House. Call 1-800-382-9842 to find out who your State Rep. is and to voice your opinion.
- Call your State Senator and urge him or her to oppose HB 1423 and to support the Pence 10% tax cut. Call 1-800-382-9467 to find out who your State Senator is and to voice your opinion.