Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) said recently they will pursue an aggressive agenda of reform in the 2019 legislative session, highlighted by proposals to finally enact a hate crimes law and giving teachers a long-needed increase in pay.
“Our work this year will focus on achieving Economic Empowerment, Educational Obtainment, Health Access, and Social/Criminal Justice,” said IBLC Chair Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis).
“We intend to offer a broad range of legislation that will cover those four areas, and we will press to see these measures enacted. In many instances, it has taken too long to get these issues before the General Assembly, and we do not intend to wait any longer to get them in place.
“These issues not only reflect the will of the IBLC, but they have been brought up time and again when our members have traveled to all corners of the state for our town halls,” she continued. “These are concerns expressed by minorities across Indiana, and they deserve to be heard.”
IBLC members listed four issues of primary concern:
“Indiana is one of only five states that does not have a hate crimes law,” said State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), who has been advocating for the law for more than 15 years. “The law I am proposing would cover age, race, religion, ethnicity, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, and sexual orientation.
“In the last few years, there has been a verified statistical increase in hate crimes across this country,” he continued.
“This bill is important to the social, cultural, and economic future of Indiana. Most of our state’s major corporations and business trade organizations support this legislation, and the time to act is now. Hate crimes should be fully debated and voted on by all members of the General Assembly, rather than the people in one caucus.”
TEACHER SALARY INCREASE
“Teachers in Indiana are not valued for the important work they do for our next generation of workers,” said State Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary).
“I am proposing that we increase the salaries for teachers across Indiana for two reasons. We need to combat the crisis caused by a shortage of teachers, by making the profession more enticing to future educators. We also must send a message to current teachers that we value their efforts on behalf of our children.”
STUDY OF VIOLENT CRIME
“This legislation would create a summer study committee formed around the idea that violent crime must be studied as a public health issue,” said State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis).
“Gun violence is a significant public health danger that has had devastating effects, both nationally and in our state. Far too many people have lost their lives through this senseless violence, and it becomes particularly hard to bear when the victims are children. We must consider the implications of this wave of violence and act, much as we would in any public health crisis.”
“Nearly 500,000 Hoosiers currently have their driving privileges suspended, due to unpaid financial obligations,” said Shackleford.
“These obligations include everything from parking fines to traffic violations to reinstatement fees. A suspended driver’s license prevents people from maintaining a regular job, keeping financial commitments, and helping other family members. My proposal would establish a traffic amnesty program that would reduce the amount of unpaid obligations based on a person’s income. It would allow productive residents to regain their licenses immediately and provide additional revenue for local services.”