Although the General Assembly participated in the remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, the 2019 session was in full swing this week. Between press conferences and events, your Senate Democrats were busy ensuring your voice was heard and your vote counted. Check out what happened at the Statehouse this week:

Sen. Breaux speaks at Planned Parenthood press conference

On Tuesday, State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) spoke at a press conference hosted by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky about a proposal she authored to expand the reproductive rights of Hoosiers. Senate Bill (SB) 589 ensures that all Hoosiers, regardless of their age, race, background, income or zip code, have the right to make decisions for themselves about contraception, pregnancy, adoption or abortion.

Latino Round Table hosts annual Latino Advocacy Day celebration

On Wednesday, the Senate Democrats hosted Latino Advocacy Day in the Statehouse. The event featured local Latin cuisine, organizations and artists. This event is an important occurrence every year at the Statehouse that allows all Hoosiers to celebrate the large impact the Latinx community has on our state. The Senate Democrats have introduced several bills to support our diverse population, including SB 335 and SB 138, which both would allow DACA and other eligible undocumented students access to in-state tuition rates, and SB 469 which would enact an inclusive hate crimes law.

Sen. Ford hosts press conference on fertility fraud

On Wednesday, State Senator J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) hosted a press conference with his constituents, Liz and Matt White, to call for the support of SB 174. Liz White was one of several women assaulted by former fertility doctor, Donald Cline, who used his own sperm on his patients without their knowledge or consent. SB 174 aims to prevent such a crime from happening again in order to protect the safety and privacy of Hoosier patients. The bill passed its committee hearing with an amendment that would make fertility fraud eligible for civil suits but not criminal charges. Sen. Ford is hoping that a criminal component will be added back in once the bill is read to the full Senate.

 

2019 bills: Where are they now?

Your Indiana Senate Democrats had several bills heard in a variety of committees this week and saw movement on the Senate floor. Learn what happened to some of our proposals over the last few days:

Medicaid coverage for doula services

Sen. Breaux’s proposal to allow Medicaid insurance to cover doula’s, or individuals who helped guide a pregnant woman through childbirth was approved 10-2 by the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee on Wednesday. SB 416 has been moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee due to its fiscal impact and could be heard as early as next Thursday.

Prekindergarten pilot program eligibility

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee unanimously approved State Senator Eddie Melton’s (D-Gary) SB 338 which would remove a federal requirement that mandates that guardians of children wishing to enroll in our state’s prekindergarten pilot program must be employed. This requirement bars guardians who are disabled or grandparents who care for their grandchildren and are retired from allowing their children to receive a vital early education. Due to the bill’s fiscal impact it will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

Waiver of interest and penalties

A proposal authored by Sen. Melton was approved by the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy Tuesday and further approved by the full Senate on Thursday. SB 83 would allow counties to participate in a six-month tax amnesty program allowing residents to pay back outstanding property taxes without interest. This proposal not only allows flexibility for residents struggling to catch up with ongoing property fees but also ensures the county is able to recover some funds that taxpayers may not be able to pay back otherwise. SB 83 will be voted on for the final time by the full Senate next week.

Fertility Fraud
Sen. Ford will be a co-author on SB 174, a proposal to clamp down on fertility fraud. SB 174 was created in response to the vast number of assaults against women committed by former fertility doctor, Donald Cline. Several women in Indiana were inseminated by Cline’s own sperm against their will, but there was nothing in the Indiana criminal code to charge him with besides lying to the Attorney General’s office. The point of SB 174 is to create avenues for both a civil suit and criminal charge that victims can use if they experience such fertility fraud. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, but the important criminal language was removed. Senate Democrats are hoping to add this criminal component back into the bill once it is heard in front of the full Senate.

Proactive Orders and Employment

State Senator Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago) has authored SB 16 in order to protect Hoosiers that have filed a protection order against another person, from having wrongful action taken against them by an employer. SB 16 prevents individuals from being disqualified from eligibility for unemployment benefits as well as prevents an employer from terminating an employee for filing a petition for a protective order. The bill moved forward without amendments on Tuesday and is eligible for a final vote by the full Senate next week.

Sex Offenders & Child Care Services

SB 258 is a proposal by State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) that would prevent sex offenders from providing child care services. SB 258 has been amended to prevent all facilities that provide youth programs from hiring offenders. The bill was created in response to a loophole discovered when a registered sex offender listed a babysitting ad on social media. SB 258 would close this loophole and protect Hoosier children from known sex offenders. Sen. Mrvan’s bill is currently eligible for a final vote by the full Senate.

License Reinstatement Fee Program

State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) has proposed SB 210, which reduces driver’s license reinstatement fees. This bill would allow Hoosiers a chance to get their license reinstated if they do not have the financial means to pay the full amount of their fees. A Hoosier who testified in support of this proposal in committee spoke about the difficult decision he had to make after being released from jail: drive to work on a suspended license and go back to jail, or don’t go to work and be unable to afford basic living requirements. SB 210 would eliminate this decision and allow Hoosiers to get to work legally. Sen. Taylor’s proposal was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee and is now being sent to the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy due to its fiscal impact.