Ahead of the legislative session, Senate Democrats say their initial priorities are teacher pay, medical marijuana, pre-existing condition coverage and hate crimes.
Senate Democrats are pushing for a 5 percent increase for teacher pay over the next two years.
Indiana’s average teacher pay ranks 18th in the nation, adjusted for cost of living. The 2019 session is a biannual budget session, and Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) says Indiana must do more to attract and retain teachers.
“When we look at what many states have done across the country, in terms of raising teacher salaries, I think, Indiana is in the best position to do so right now,” Melton says.
One of their other goals, hate crimes legislation, has been proposed – and failed – for decades. But this year, Senate Democrats say they are more confident it will pass.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says he looks forward to working with Gov. Eric Holcomb on the issue – the governor announced he would support hate crimes legislation in July. But Lanane says bipartisan support may not extend to protecting LGBTQ Hoosiers. He says that is a priority for Democrats.
“But it’s up to them as to whether or not they’ll allow that to stop legislation from going forward or not,” Lanane says. “But it needs to be comprehensive and we will be arguing for that.”
Other proposals include legalizing medical marijuana and coverage for pre-existing conditions.