The members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) have proposed their agenda for the 2019 legislative session. The four central themes of their anticipated bills include: social and criminal justice, economic empowerment, health access and education. Specific bills within these focuses include legislation to address hate crimes, an increase in teacher salaries, the study of violent crime and the implementation of a traffic amnesty program.

Hate crimes 

The IBLC has thrown its support behind State Senator Greg Taylor’s (D-Indianapolis) bias crimes bill. This bill would establish a sentencing procedure that requires the court to impose an additional fixed term of imprisonment if the crime committed was based on discrimination of an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. The need for this bill has become evident given recent and disturbing hate crimes committed in Indiana ⸺  some of which include the Nazi symbols vandalized on a synagogue in Carmel and the attack of a Muslim woman in Bloomington. Indiana is only one of five states in the nation that does not have legislation to specifically address hate crimes.

Teacher salary increase

The IBLC will support State Senator Eddie Melton’s (D-Gary) bill to increase teacher salaries in Indiana. This proposal would raise teacher pay by 2.5 percent per year in the upcoming biennial budget to provide a total five percent increase in teacher salaries. Across the state, there is a shortage of teachers and Sen. Melton’s effort aims to combat this crisis. Teachers need to be shown that their hard work is valued, especially because they prepare our next generation of workers. This bill also aims to minimize the gap between how Indiana pays its teachers in comparison to other Midwestern states who all outrank us.

Violent crimes

State Representative Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) is proposing legislation to study violent crimes as a public health issue. Gun violence alone has devastating effects both nationally and within the State of Indiana. Here in our state we have seen the harsh consequences of gun violence issues, and in order to keep our residents safe, we must be able to study the implications of gun violence and other violent crimes to prevent future incidences.

Traffic amnesty

Nearly 500,000 Hoosiers currently have their driving privileges suspended do to unpaid financial obligations. This is why State Representative Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) is authoring legislation to establish a traffic amnesty program. Her bill would reduce fines allowing productive residents to regain their license more readily, without which they might not be able to maintain a job or pick their children up from school. Finally, this bill would provide additional revenue for the state that is currently not being received due to high costs that prevent Hoosiers from being able to pay fines.