Indiana must find a way to deal with big issues

State must find a way to deal with big issues The Indianapolis Star By John Ketzenberger 5/10/15 It already seems like an eon has passed since the Indiana General Assembly called it quits on a tumultuous session just 10 days … Continue reading

The 8 days since “Religious Freedom” passage March 26th: ANALYSIS & REFLECTION

Today the Indianapolis Star published a six page spread examining the multi-faceted upheavel that was triggered by the Indiana Legislature upon the original passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when signed by Governor Mike Pence on March 26, 2015.
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Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act now includes “…sexual orientation, gender identity…”

Senate Enrolled Act No. 50, was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on April 2, 2015 and is here. It amended Senate Enrolled Act No. 101, to include, in part: 

“This chapter does not:
(1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment,or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service;
(2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin,disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service…”

Senate Enrolled Act No. 101, commonly referred to as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was signed into law by Gov. Pence on March 26, 2015 and is here

Information regarding Indiana’s civil rights in the areas of Credit, Education, Employment, Housing and Public Accommodation will be found here.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels laments RFRA damage to Indiana

(NOTE: When governor, Daniel’s “official state employment policy” linked below states, “In addition, sexual orientation and gender identity shall not be a consideration in decisions concerning hiring, development, advancement and termination of civilian employees.” Thus far, I have not been able to locate … Continue reading

Sign: “No Gays Allowed” – Does Indiana law allow this? GOP leadership responds

This morning Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and President Pro Tem of the Indiana State Senate David Long met with the press for about 27 minutes and responded to questions. The following 75 second clip from the press conference includes a questioner asked if putting a “No Gays Allowed” sign up in a window would be against current Indiana law and Bosma answered and also referred to a “human rights ordinance.” Also, David Long commented, “We don’t support discrimination against anyone in this state.”

The entire 27 minute press conference is below.

Your thoughts from analyzing the entire press conference?

What should Indiana do?

“What the ‘religious freedom’ law really means for Indiana” and ABC’s interview of Gov. Pence

(During this morning’s appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Gov. Mike Pence was interviewed for more than eleven minutes by host George Stephanopoulos. He asked, “Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays … Continue reading

Gov. Pence wants a $56 million bicentennial “party” and the roadways…

By Russ Phillips

In my opinion the roads – cities and towns, counties, Indiana highways and Indiana interstates – are not receiving adequate road maintenance including sealing and resurfacing as needed as well as prompt filling of potholes and this has been true for a number of years. Some will cite Indiana’s most recent winter as causing the problem and it certainly has made things worse, however, years of neglect has led us to the current roadway conditions. Indiana’s state government as well as the federal government have shirked their responsibility in establishing a long-range program for adequately maintaining our roads. Instead only enough is being done to get by, if even that.

It’s a matter of priorities. Governor Pence’s proposed state budget, in acknowledgement of Indiana’s bicentennial birthday, calls for the construction of a new state archives building ($25 million), the construction of a Bicentennial Inn at Potato Creek State Park ($25 million), the creation of an education center at the Indiana State Library ($2.5 million), the development of a commemorative Bicentennial Plaza ($2 million), and the funding of the Bicentennial torch relay initiative ($1.6 million). Where will the funding come from?

According to Pence the state’s cell tower infrastructure is currently being underutilized and “is not realizing its full commercial potential.” The state — which owns 150 cell towers — is looking to lease the excess capacity to private operators, producing at least $50 million, while still maintaining its critical public safety and emergency communication. State police communication is at the core of those needs. This would pay most of the cost of these projects. There is also a possibility of the new inn being privately financed as a business venture and this I would support.

It is my opinion that the above $56.1 million should be applied to road maintenance. What do you think? Other ideas?

Some of this article is from one or more of:
WNDU.com
WBAA, Public Radio from Purdue
South Bend Tribune
The Statehouse File

Ritz would lose post as board chair under bill passed by Senate

(Vote results for all Senate members on SB 1 are  shown on a screen shot following this article and also here. –  Admin.)

TheStatehouseFile.com
By Adam Lee
2/17/15

INDIANAPOLIS – The Senate passed a controversial bill Tuesday that removes state Superintendent Glenda Ritz as the chair of the State Board of Education and give its members the ability to elect their own leader.

Senate Bill 1, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, would end an arrangement unique to Indiana and Oklahoma, which are the only states in which the elected superintendent of public instruction automatically serves as chair of the state board of education.

The bill also alters the composition and governance of the board. The number of members would drop from 11 down to nine. Four of those members would be appointed by the governor, two by the House speaker and two from the Senate president pro tem. The state superintendent would continue to serve on the board.

Those members would then choose a chair, which could be the superintendent. Holdman said the bill also allows the board to hire an executive director and staff to help tackle problems more efficiently.

The proposed change in policy has created strong opinions on both sides of the issue.

Sen. Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson, said that he had an “obligation to speak on behalf of the 1.3 million people” that voted for Ritz to be superintendent. Lanane called SB 1 dangerous and said it is a dispute over policy. He questioned how much more power legislators would take from the superintendent in the future.

“Somebody wants to take the superintendent of public instruction to the proverbial woodshed,” Lanane said. “It’s a woodshed made of politics by politics and for politics.”

But Sen. Brandt Hershman, R- Buck Creek, said SB 1 is about policy rather than the politics. He said the bill does not strip her of her power and she will continue to be an important factor in education.

“She has a budget of millions of dollars and a staff of hundreds of employees that will continue to have the responsibility of implementing the policy” the General Assembly sets, Hershman said.

Sen. Brent Waltz Jr., R-Greenwood, said the way the current board operates is dysfunctional – pointing out that Ritz had walked out on a board meeting and sued other members of the board. He said it is legislators’ responsibility to correct the process.

Others, including as [sic] Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, agreed there is dysfunction but argued that the bill would make things worse. He said taking away the superintendent’s position as chair and expecting her to be cooperative is going to cause more problems.

The bill passed the Senate 33-17 and now moves to the House, which has already passed legislation to remove Ritz as chair but does not change board appointments.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday that he supports letting the state board choose its own chair and objected to the characterization that it was stripping her of authority. However, Pence said he does not support provisions to reduce the number of appointments he can make to the State Board of Education.

Adam Lee is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

SB 1