INDIANAPOLIS─Yesterday officially marked the temporary end of the 2021 legislative session until the Legislature resumes later this year to draw new congressional and legislative maps.
Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) applauded his caucus for working hard, standing for every Hoosier and pushing for priority caucus legislation this session.
“I am extremely proud of the work my caucus put in this year,” Sen. Taylor said. “The Senate Democrats came into this session intent on fighting for Hoosiers. We came here ready to fight for criminal justice reform, families who have struggled to stay afloat during COVID and public education and teachers. And we did, and I’m proud to look back over this year and see that we have many wins.
“This session we were able to successfully fight for historic criminal justice reform. With House Bill (HB) 1006, it is now a crime for police officers to turn off their body cameras to conceal actions. HB 1006 bans chokeholds in most circumstances, requires de-escalation training and mandates law enforcement agencies request employment records from previous employers when hiring. This legislation was historic and one of the biggest win this session.
“Senator Tallian was successful in advocating for juvenile justice on behalf of our kids who need a second chance. Her Senate Bill (SB) 368 allows for criminal records to be expunged and forbids juveniles from being housed in adult facilities under most circumstances.
“Senator Niezgodski was able to get increased subsidies for our families who adopt children. His parents with disabilities proposal, SB 259, protecting the rights of parents with a disability to foster or adopt a child, was also approved this session after many years of him advocating for that legislation.
“We also saw some victories in the final budget that passed. After being told no, again and again, we did not give up fighting for Direct Support Professionals, mental health and addiction services or programs that allow our elderly family members to get support while they age in their own homes. And in the end, we were able to get pay raises for these workers and restore full funding to these services.
“We have been fighting for public education through decades of inadequate funding. My Caucus has been telling the General Assembly for years that Indiana teachers have the slowest rate of pay increases in the nation, and the lowest pay in our region. I’m so proud of our caucus for not giving up on this fight, and for being successful in getting improved funding for public schools, including funding for teacher pay.
“Our caucus also was successful in fighting against big government bills that came after local governments. We were able to defeat language that would have hurt Indianapolis’ public transit expansion – a program very popular with local residents. We were able to defeat bills that tried to interfere with police building better relationships with their communities.
“But we didn’t do it alone. I’m also proud of our national Democrat leaders. The ability for Indiana to invest more in our people is absolutely thanks to Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The stimulus checks to our families and the investment in states and local governments has absolutely supported Indiana’s economy and our communities.
“That said, I still have concerns about the direction of our state. We absolutely do not support the ongoing disproportionate funding to vouchers in the budget. The budget increased voucher eligibility to include a family of four with an annual income of $145,000 each year, making those in the top ten percent of earners eligible for tax-dollar-funded private schooling.
“Only 83% of funding goes to public schools even though they educate 93% of our students. Despite educating only 4.5% of students, vouchers are getting 10% of funding. This discrimination against public schools is something my caucus does not support and will keep fighting.
“Our regular 2021 legislative session is officially over, but the values of my caucus remain the same. Our commitment to Hoosiers remains the same, and we will continue fighting on behalf of Hoosiers when we convene this fall to discuss our map drawing process.”