State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement after the Legislative Council heard testimony on House Bill (HB) 1315 Monday morning.
“I am so thankful for the dedicated constituents who made the journey from Gary to the Statehouse this morning to play a role in the democratic process. The Mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson, President of the Gary’s Teacher’s Association, Glen Eva Dunham, Pastor Dwight Gardner, Gary parent, Kendra Johnson, and more voiced their many concerns with House Bill 1315.
“Next week, legislators will vote on this bill during the one-day special session and I am glad that today members of my community were able to explain why HB 1315 will not benefit our district, but actually cause divisions in our community and disenfranchise our voters.
“If the supermajority was actually interested in improving the educational opportunities for students in Gary and Muncie they would adhere to resounding requests to remove the portion of HB 1315 that not only infringes upon the voting rights of Gary residents but also limits the collective bargaining rights of teachers. We should not be demonizing our teachers, and the government should never restrict the right to vote or tell elected officials when they are allowed to speak to the public.
“Additionally, based off the testimony given from Representative Tim Brown, it is clear that he is intentionally ignoring the current status of the Gary School Corporation and all the progress our community has made under the guidance of our emergency manager. He is making assumptions based on Gary’s past, and not giving current and relevant information that would show HB 1315 is not needed. Senate Enrolled Act 567, which was passed last year, addressed the issues that continue to be brought up in current committee meetings. Issues on which the emergency manager, who was hired as a result of that Act, has made significant improvements for the school corporation.
“This is not what I call a democracy. The right to vote and having a voice in your government is the foundation of democracy and I call on my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to think twice before casting their vote during the special session next week.”