State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary), with co-hosts State Reps. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) and Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago), along with State Sens. Lonnie M. Randolph (D-East Chicago) and Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville), will hold a public forum at noon, Saturday, March 4 at The Glen Theater, 20 West Ridge Road, Gary.
Dr. Smith said the forum is intended to be informative and a means of gathering input from constituents.
“We are at the midpoint of the 2017 Indiana General Assembly,” said Dr. Smith. “This is the time when House bills that were passed are sent to the Senate and the legislatively successful Senate bills go to the House for consideration. There have been many bills passed by both chambers. Our constituents need to know what those bills actually do. For instance, the Pre-K bill passed by the House doesn’t expand pre- school education much, but does spend more money for vouchers for private schools.
“Another bill replaces the failed ISTEP with an expensive test that is just as bad,” explained Dr. Smith. “In addition, the Republicans want to disenfranchise Hoosiers by taking away their right to vote for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. We’ve also been trying to get help for Gary Public Schools and we will continue to work toward that end.
“On the positive side, there is help for the residents in East Chicago who have suffered loss and disruption due to the lead and arsenic contamination,” added Dr. Smith. “Democrats and Republicans are also working together to combat opiate addiction. Other important issues include infrastructure improvements. The Republicans are calling for a large tax increase. We Democrats are offering an alternative that would not hit the average citizen so hard. The most prominent issue, of course, is the biennial budget. It funds everything the state does.
“We legislators want to inform our constituents about what is happening in the Statehouse, but we also want to get their thoughts on the issues I mentioned as well as others that concern the people of Lake County. It is through dialogue and input that we can best represent the people we serve in Northwest Indiana.”
The forum is free and open to the public. Dr. Smith and his fellow legislators welcome all of their constituents.