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Date: 2/17/2022
Subject: February Advocate updates, IGA website and Virtual Democacy Quilt videos, and more!
From: LWVIN





LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS ADVOCACY

The League's basic purpose is to make democracy work for all citizens.  For the last century, that goal has taken two major, related efforts: voting services (voter registration and information) and voter education and advocacy.  Voter education and advocacy rely on the study and self-education of generations of League members. League public policy positions and their history may be found in LWVUS Impact on Issues 2020-2022 through this LINK.   

LWVIN positions may be found HERE.

To effectively make democracy work for all citizens, we must work above partisan politics. It bears repeating that the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization; we neither support nor oppose candidates for office at any level of government. We do encourage informed and active participation in government (by members as well as other citizens).  We work to increase understanding of major public issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy for policies to serve all citizens.

The Indiana General Assembly has moved all remaining live bills for this short legislative session from one body to the other for final action.
  

In this issue you will find a statement from each of the LWVIN advocates or teams explaining the relevant LWVIN position and the issues that they see on the horizon in this legislative session.  

Please take advantage of this information and respond to each of the advocates with your name and email address if you are willing to work with them on the statewide advocacy team or to respond to their calls to action during the remainder of the legislative session. Choose your passion!

Linda Hanson and Barb Schilling, LWVIN co-Presidents

NAVIGATING THE IGA WEBSITE

Want to find out what is happening at the Indiana General Assembly?  Watch an IN-DEPTH VIRTUAL TOUR of the Indiana General Assembly website provided by Co-President Linda Hanson.

See how to search out the status of bills, committee hearing videos, proposed amendments and much more...
 

REMAINING EDUCATION BILLS OF CONCERN

(HE) Senate Bill 17 Harmful Material for Minors.  (Same language is used in HB1134.) 
Removes legal protections for K-12 schools and public libraries from a law that prohibits distributing harmful material to children. Proponents say it only targets obscene materials: however, the fear is it could be used to ban books on topics like sex education and LGBTQ relationships.

(HE) Senate Bill 331 Education Matters. Scheduled for hearing 2/16.
Presently ESA’s are only authorized for a few hundred special education students but the unsaid plan is to invest in an online portal so that the ESA is ready to expand and allow all students to be eligible for ESA grants.  
Problems with Education Savings Accounts.
• No standards. All a parent needs to do to get the money (approx. $7,000 plus special education funding) that normally goes to schools is to fill out an online application.
• No accountability, no oversight or no protections that the money is being used for the education for the intended child.
• Takes tax dollars allocated for public education and diverts that funding to Private, Charter and Home Schools

(HE) Senate Bill 356 Teacher matters. (This language is used in HB 1251)

Allows school corporations to issue adjunct teacher permits and hire adjunct teachers. Those employees would not be covered by collective bargaining agreements or salary schedules. Adjunct teachers would not have to meet the licensing requirements of certified teachers.  SB 356 says districts could hire adjunct teachers on a part time basis but HB 1251 opens employment to part or full time.

(SE) Senate Bill 1041 Participation in school sports.. heard 2/9. No vote taken. Scheduled for 2/16.

Prohibits a male, based on the biological sex at birth, from participating on an athletic team or sport designated as being a female. (2)  Establishes a civil action for a violation of these provisions and protects institutions from being subjected to civil liability or criminal action for acting.

(SA) House Bill 1072 School referendum levies.  

Requires school corporation to share a portion of revenue received from a school referendum tax levy with each charter school that is in the school district that students attend. (Districts already have the option as Indianapolis Public Schools has recently decided to do.)

(SE) House Bill 1134 Education matters. Scheduled for hearing 2/16.
Regulates what teachers can teach about race would prohibit teachers from promoting eight concepts that lawmakers have deemed divisive. Would require schools to post bibliographic information of their curriculum, and to create parent committees to approve curriculum. 
 
Permits lawsuits against districts and allows a teacher’s license to be suspended or revoke for violations of teaching content that is prohibited by this law. Removes schools and certain public libraries from a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: the dissemination of material harmful to minors (same as SB 17).  Allows parents to opt in or out of “certain educational activities and curricular materials requiring the teacher to provide alternate options.

(SE) House Bill 1251 Various Education Matters. (same language as SB 356.)

Here is a link to the IGA website list of committees: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2022/committees/
 
Jorgena Watson

On February 8, the LWV of Henry Co. hosted Dr. Jennifer McCormick who spoke on “The Future of Indiana: K-12 Education.”   
Dr. McCormick, Indiana’s 44th Superintendent of Public Instruction who led the Department of Education from 2017 to 2021 discussed how state legislation, policies, and politics are impacting our community’s public schools, the teaching profession, and the equitable access to quality education.  She also shared information about the current education bills before the Indiana General Assembly.

You are invited to watch the recording of her presentation by visiting the Henry County website at lwvhenrycoin.org.


VOTER SERVICES COORDINATION COMMITTEE UPDATE
 
2022 IGA ELECTION LEGISLATION 
 
Only 3 bills (of 21) have survived transfer to the Second Legislative Chamber. We will continue to monitor and especially provide messaging regarding these bills. We hope to have strong local support of messaging local legislators regarding support/opposition for these remaining bills:
HB 1116 Electronic voting machines - contains the most concerns for voter rights restrictions. 
HB 1285 Redistricting local election districts – this may impact an aspect of school board representation.
SB 328 Elections - will be watched for amendments.

LWVUS GRANT

There is still available funding. Local leagues that have been granted funds are willing to help other leagues to replicate their efforts. They are the following: 
Fort Wayne (Betsy Kachmar) is producing Voter Education Kits for high school teachers;
Montgomery County (Myra Dunn Abbott) is reaching out to their Spanish speaking communities;
Indianapolis (Rachel Loveman) is providing education materials with an emphasis on Federal Voting Rights;
Hancock County (Linda Dunn) is offering programs and materials that present Federal Voting Rights information.

We can extend these concepts throughout Indiana by sharing and producing materials for other leagues.  Talk to your Voter Services Committee member or Patrice Waidner (pcwaidner@gmail.com) if you are interested in applying.

2020 ELECTION DATA RESEARCH/REPORT
 

Linda Dunn (lindajdunn@comcast.net) is using Hancock County data within a video presentation for Library and other event display. She has made an offer for any local league to use hers as a template and support their use of county data. This is excellent support for use of information important to get into the community. Betsy Kachmar is now working with Linda to use this for Allen County.

Ken Jones, Patrice Waidner, and Jorgena Watson 


NATIONAL RESOURCES ADVOCACY IN THE 2022 INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Our IGA is understandably economics oriented, and as such LWVIN has persisted in educating our senators and representatives on the economic value of addressing environmental challenges.  We are laying a sound foundation for passing environmentally responsible and economically beneficial measures in future sessions, and we have been working hard to encourage bi-partisan efforts. 

Only one bill we supported, HB 1196, is still alive.
  If a homeowner association (HOA) prohibits rooftop solar, 1196 would give a prospective solar owner a pathway to petition their fellow homeowners in the HOA to be allowed to install their individual array.  They would need to do this quickly, because the 2017 IGA session phased out net metering effective this June and with it the financial incentive to install solar.  Net metering relates to the rate at which a household sells back to its electric utility the energy that its solar array creates.  As noted below, attempts this session to correct this did not advance.

HELPFUL ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS THAT DIED IN COMMITTEE INCLUDE THESE:
 

SB 255: to establish a Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force.
SCR 3:  a resolution to acknowledge the impacts of climate change.
HB 1287:  to create a Climate Change Commission.
SB 248, HB 1304:  to restore fair credit for extra electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.
● SB 314HB 1136: to extend net metering.
SB 313, HB 1250:  to require monopoly utilities to build and provide access to community solar projects.
HB 1335, SB 412:  to clean up toxic coal ash pits that pollute our drinking water and groundwater.

MANY BILLS THAT WE OPPOSE ARE ALIVE AND MOVING IN THE IGA: 


SB 265 and HB 1249: are about Wabash Valley Resources’ carbon sequestration plan and would establish near-blanket immunity from any damage caused to neighboring residents and businesses.
HB 1209: paves the way for unproven carbon sequestration from new industrial sources of emissions throughout the State.
SB 271: puts the financial burden of expensive, unproven nuclear reactors on utility customers even before they are built and producing electricity.
HB 1100: limits the flexibility of state agencies like IDEM and DNR to adopt any regulatory protections more stringent than those at the federal level.
SB 269: decreases inspection of dams creating down-stream hazards at a time when Indiana’s precipitation has increased by 5.6 inches annually.   

There is, however, growing evidence that concern about climate and the environment, even in Indiana, is increasing so it’s all the more important to bring these issues to our legislators and to the public that votes for them.  Our thanks for the help of the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for their fine work. 

Kristina Lindborg (kristina.lindborg@gmail.com), Liz Solberg, Cheryl Chapman, Lisa Harris, Co-Chairs


REDISTRICTING REFORM UPDATE
 
On Monday, February 7, Sen. Fady Qaddoura offered a resolution recognizing the work of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2021 and thanking them for modeling a transparent, open process accessible to all Hoosiers.  Only two members of the ICRC, Sonia Leerkamp and Clara Glaspie, were allowed on the Senate floor, and neither was allowed to speak, but at least they were visible.  You may watch the session in the Senate archives at IGA.IN.GOVLeague members were asked to thank Sen. Qaddoura and take the opportunity to remind our Senators that they need to put redistricting reform on their legislative agenda! 

On the same day, the All IN for Democracy Virtual Democracy Quilt was sent to every IN Senator to remind them that Hoosiers want redistricting reform and accountable representation.   The link to the virtual Democracy Quilt is HEREPlease share the quilt on your social media—full version, short version, or individual videos.

In the Senate Elections Committee on Monday, February 14, Sen. Fady Qaddoura intended to propose an amendment for HB1285 (local redistricting) to create a study committee for redistricting
using the All IN Coalition language that created the Special Interim Committee on Redistricting in 2015 (House Bill 1003-Redistricting plans--IGA, 2015 session).  However, the Senate majority caucus ruled his amendment to HB1285 non-germane so he was not allowed to offer it—a questionable claim.  HB1285 amends Title 3, the Election part of the Indiana statute, and sets out parameters for local redistricting.  Sen. Qaddoura’s amendment would have amended Title 3 to direct the General Assembly to create a study committee for redistricting. Since the same committee chose not to hear Sen. Qaddoura’s Senate Joint Resolution  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2022/resolutions/senate/joint/14 for a constitutional amendment to remove the mapping responsibility from the legislature, it appears the majority party wants to provide no opportunity for testimony about redistricting reform.  All the more reason to persistently remind our Senators that they need to put redistricting reform on their legislative agenda! 

Besides emails and phone calls, you may want to send postcards to your legislators and to the House and Senate Elections committees.  Each Indiana league received a selection of three different postcards.  All are focused on redistricting and may be used yet this session to indicate support for a constitutional amendment that would remove the mapping responsibility from the legislature.  The suggested messaging was included as was the common address for all legislators: 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis IN 46204. If your league could use more postcards, contact Linda Hanson!    

Linda Hanson, LWVIN co-president

WOMEN'S HEALTH ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
Here are the bills that are STILL MOVING in the Indiana Legislature. They passed the House and are now in the Senate. 

BILLS WE OPPOSE
HB 1217: “Coerced” abortion ban: This bil was scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, February 16th by the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

BILLS WE SUPPORT
HB 1140: Increased Medicaid coverage
: This bill passed out of the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, and was sent to the Appropriations Committee. It has a hearing on Thursday, February 17. It extends Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum and broadens eligibility of coverage by increasing Medicaid income limits. 

HB 1294: Restraint of Pregnant Inmates: This bill prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates in labor and sets guidelines for restraint use for pregnant inmates. After passage in the House it had its third reading in the Senate on February 15 and passed by a vote of yeas 46; nays 0.

The DOBBS V. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION case was heard before the US Supreme Court on December 1, with a decision expected in June 2022. The Supreme Court limited the case to the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” It is a legal challenge to Mississippi's 2018 Gestational Age Act, which had banned abortions after 15 weeks with sole exceptions for medical emergencies or fetal abnormality.  Federal courts had enjoined the state from enforcing the law, saying it violated the 24-week point of viability established by Roe v. Wade.  

Interestingly, a top Republican in Florida had announced one day after Texas SB 8 became law on September 1 that he would sponsor a similar Florida bill.  Instead Florida Republicans have coalesced around a 15-week ban modeled after the Mississippi law. 15-week bans have also been introduced recently in West Virginia and Arizona, even as Texas-style laws in other states have stalled.  Senator Liz Brown had promised to introduce a Texas SB8-style bill in Indiana but changed her mind.

The general consensus is that the Supreme Court will use the case to overturn all or part of Roe v. Wade. It is possible that abortion law-making will be returned entirely to the states.

At this point it is probable that if Roe is overturned Indiana Governor Holcomb will call a special legislative session this summer to consider a bill to to ban or severely limit abortion in Indiana. Nearby states Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Ohio are likely to do the same. Planned Parenthood is already making plans to help women go to Illinois clinics for abortions. There are 3 clinics in Illinois across from St. Louis, 4 in central Illinois, and 10 in the Chicago area.  

We will reassess our options/strategies once the Roe decision is announced and a special session called. All hands will be needed to mount a response to what the legislators come up with!  We are now doing advocate updates through MailChimp.  Contact Bri Gilliden to be added to our mailing list.

Pam Locker, Joanne Evers, Bri Glidden (glidden.bri@gmail.com), Betsy Kachmar

HEALTH CARE REFORM ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
I have assumed the role of LWVWIN Health Care Reform Advocate.  The primary goal of the Health Care Reform Advocate Team is to encourage Single-Payer Healthcare in Indiana and nationwide.  Please note that LWVIN also has a separate Women's Health Care Advocates team.   

This mission has been championed by Cathy Rountree and her committee in Brown County, as well as Karen Stone Green in Bloomington/Monroe County.  They are working on presenting a Program Planning Survey initiative supporting Single Payer to the National Convention in June for deliberation.  It is supported by LWV State groups throughout the country.  I submitted the Concurrence, with supporting documentation, to the State Board, who voted to support the Concurrence discussion being added to the agenda at National. 
 
I have also sent the documents to all LWV local groups and presidents for their consideration. The Muncie/Delaware Co. LWV Board has voted for the Concurrence. Hopefully, it will also be supported by other individual local Leagues.  
 
Judy Forkan Kapoun (forkan1@yahoo.com)

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. This year, applications will be accepted for projects to improve public spaces, housing, transportation and civic engagement; support diversity, equity and inclusion; build engagement for programs under new federal laws; and pursue innovative ideas that support people age 50 or older.

Go HERE to apply.  Vicki Small, President of the Southwestern local, is an AARP volunteer, Evansville Team Member.  If you have questions you can email her at svsmall.1018@gmail.com.