INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) and members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus presented their legislative priorities for the 2018 session.

The Senate Democrats’ INvision 20/20 plan sets caucus goals to reach by 2020. These goals were developed by listening to Hoosiers across the state who feel disconnected from their state government. Moving forward the Senate Democrats will legislate with a Hoosier focus using “Your Voice. Your Vote. Our Mission” as a constant reminder to ensure that Hoosiers are being heard and that their votes are being counted.

Sen. Lanane kicked off the press conference detailing the desperate need for Indiana to improve voter access and listed the voting initiatives the caucus will propose in 2018. Those include creating an independent redistricting commission, extending polling hours, allowing same-day voter registration, and implementing excuse-free vote-by-mail.

“With Indiana voter turnout being one of the lowest in the nation, and voter distrust of government being at an all-time high, it is imperative elected officials hear why people feel disconnected and make changes based on their input,” Sen. Lanane said.

Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) highlighted the caucus’ priorities to give Hoosiers a stronger voice in the General Assembly. Sen. Breaux explained how Senate Democrats will be prepared to act if Washington makes changes to current healthcare policies which would greatly affect funding for Indiana’s HIP 2.0 program and remove protections from Hoosiers, such as insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“Indiana Senate Democrats believe that healthcare is a right and all Hoosiers should have access to affordable, quality health care,” Sen. Breaux said. “No family should face bankruptcy because of a medical emergency and no one should lose Medicaid coverage to extend tax breaks to millionaires.”

For the fifth consecutive year, Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) explained the need for Indiana to implement a bias crimes law.

“It is time that Indiana join the 45 states who recognize the heinous nature of these crimes to show we are welcoming to all people and protect victims of crime targeted on the basis of their race, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Sen. Taylor said. “And Hoosiers agree. A recent poll showed that 64% of Indiana residents support bias crime legislation.”

A further aspect of the 2018 agenda includes legislation to provide employers and employees with a voluntary, opt-in family leave policy.

“In Indiana, not all workers have access to paid time off to care for a newborn baby or sick child, spouse or parent,” Senator Niezgodski (D-South Bend) said. “This is an economic and emotional issue our families face all too often. Do what’s right for their family and not be able to pay bills, or go to work and leave behind a sick family member? It’s an impossible choice.”

Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) ended the press conference showcasing the caucus’ further efforts to increase the minimum wage in Indiana to provide Hoosiers with a sustainable, livable wage.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again and keep saying it again until all politicians take it seriously,” Sen. Mrvan said. “No person should work 40 hours a week and still not be able to put food on the table, pay their electricity bill, afford child care, or put gas in their cars.”

The Senate Democrats concluded the press conference with questions from the media.