Indiana Senate Democrats’ agenda for the upcoming legislative session is a retread of many past agendas: expanded voter access measures, a proposed minimum wage increase, and a push for a bias crimes law.
One of the tent poles of the their 2018 agenda – increased voter access – isn’t a new idea for the caucus. Members have pushed redistricting reform, expanded voting hours, and same day registration for years. Some of those ideas have support from key GOP leaders this year – and caucus leader Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says that’s critical, as Republicans outnumber Democrats 41 to 9 in the Senate.
“But we’re going to challenge them to hear our bills and we’re going to challenge them if they don’t give us hearings on these bills as to why not,” Lanane says. “And the public deserves that – they deserve to hear these debates.”
The Senate minority caucus has advocated for reform in the state’s redistricting system for more than a decade – with little success. Still, Lanane says he’s encouraged by the public attention on the issue.
“Never before have I seen the type of grassroots efforts that’s out there for redistricting reform. People are fed up with gerrymandering,” Lanane says.
Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) says the caucus stands ready in 2018 to protect health care access she says is threatened by federal action.
“Protect the pre-existing conditions clause,” Breaux says. “We are prepared to try to make sure that the insurance companies cannot impose those lifetime caps and those limits.”
Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) says he’ll try, as he has for years, to pass legislation that would increase penalties for crimes committed in part because of a victim’s characteristics, such as race, religion, or sexual orientation.
“And send a message loud and clear that the state of Indiana will not tolerate hate,” Taylor says.
Other proposals include an increase in the minimum wage and a paid family leave policy for the state.
The 2018 legislative session begins in January.