Summary of Legislature Organization Day

IFCL Plain Speaking

November 22, 2023 was Organization Day, where legislative leaders gather at the statehouse to make opening statements for the upcoming session.  Lobbyists and concerned citizens wait in the hallways, networking with each other and trying to catch a legislator as they pass by.

House Leader Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Bray are setting low expectations in this non-budgetary year hoping to “tweak” prior legislation. Citing the concern that many children can’t pass standardized reading tests by 3rd grade, there is talk of holding kids back if they can’t meet certain thresholds.

We hope that legislators will give the new “Science of Reading” curriculum that passed in the 2023 session, time to have a positive impact before searching for punitive measures. Leaders Huston and Bray are focused on school truancy and whether enforcement is adequate. School success and truancy can be affected by conditions outside of schools.   For example, having stable housing, enough food in the home, adequate childcare and affordable preschool for families will affect school attendance and success. Parents working two and three jobs to make ends meet can leave little time to make sure homework is done or that kids are getting to school on time.  Meet with your legislators and ask about housing support and costs of utilities for low income residents.

Here’s what we are following:

A consumer protection bill for renters to ensure habitability including lead exposure in rental homes by Senator Greg Walker.  This is a Pro-life issue.

Water withdrawals: The LEAP project has raised awareness about water resource planning. Residents of Tippecanoe  County are fighting against the  IEDC tapping the aquifer and transferring it to the Boone County industrial park.  Hoosiers still seem unaware of the need to conserve this precious resource. It’s a Pro-life issue!

Solar:  There may only be one bill supporting Community Solar by Representative Carey Hamilton of Indianapolis.  If you know of a Republican in your district who favors renewable energy, please reach out to them.Climate warming is a Pro-Life issue!

Wetlands protection: we’re not aware of any bills at this time.

Coal Ash:  Representative Pat Boy of Michigan City will submit a bill limiting the use of coal ash in fill or amendments. Heavy metals in the coal ash can enter the water supply or contaminate dust.  Representative Culp is considering charging power companies a special “tipping fee” for coal ash.  For a state that is addicted to coal fired power plants, any movement to control its negative impacts is a step in the right direction. Reducing toxic pollutants is a Pro-Life issue!

Senator Greg Taylor, Senate Minority Leader will submit a bill to allow citizens to create ballot initiatives.  Our state constitution does not allow citizen led ballot initiatives. While some say to vote your conscience, due to gerrymandering many legislators are in secure seats and some will not meet with constituents. Ballot initiatives allow more direct citizen involvement in important issues.  Ask your representative to support ballot initiatives.