By Brigid Curtis Ayer
INDIANAPOLIS — “Short, but not necessarily sweet,” says Glenn Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference’s executive director. “That is the general consensus among state lawmakers who headed back to the statehouse Jan. 5, for a two-and-a-half-month ‘short’ legislative session.”
The 150 state lawmakers, 50 Senators and 100 House members who make up the Indiana General Assembly, are expected to raise a myriad of important issues to the Church this session, says Tebbe, who serves as the official spokesman and representative for the five Indiana bishops on public policy matters, “but all of the issues will be filtered through two lenses — the problem of declining state revenue and the 2010 election,” says Tebbe.
Hints of the two looming issues and how these issues will color the 2010 legislative agenda have been made by Gov. Mitch Daniels, Republican leaders in the Senate and Democratic leaders in the House in statements released in late 2009.
Gov. Daniels, who discussed the state’s fiscal concerns in a Dec. 15 news conference at the statehouse, said, “For over a year, I’ve cautioned that the revenue forecast used by the legislature seemed too rosy and out of touch with the severity of the national recession. Today forecasters faced the reality we’ve been dealing with every day.” The governor has offered several cost-cutting legislative proposals for the General Assembly to consider beginning 2010.
Since July 1, general fund revenues are $475 million or 9 percent below the May forecast, according to the State Budget Committee’s report released last month.
Speaker of the House, Rep. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) said in a statement released Dec. 4, “Indiana House Democrats will seriously review and consider the legislation that contains the cost savings proposed by the governor.”
While the Senate will also be concerned with the state’s fiscal constraints, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and other Senate Republicans will be pushing for legislation to create an independent redistricting commission to draw the new state legislative and Congressional district boundaries. Long detailed the initiative in a letter to the editor released statewide Dec. 14.
Even though these two issues will overshadow the 2010 session, Tebbe says, “there will be several large issues that will dominate the 2010 session, many of which are a continuation of previous session fights.” They include property tax caps; constitutional amendment and adjustments in assessment; local government reform especially trustees, townships and consolidation; gaming industry seeking adjustments and expansion; adjustments in providing social services; and lobbying reforms. Other issues to be addressed include a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage and abortion-related issues.
“Given the wide range of issues, their moral implications and impact on families and children, the Indiana Catholic Conference will be present inside the capitol dome watching these issues, talking with lawmakers, and offering a moral perspective,” said Tebbe. “But we can’t do it alone. We need input and involvement from Catholics in the pew all across the state to work in unison with the Church’s voice to make a real impact on lawmakers and the lawmaking process.
“I hope everyone will visit our Web page at www.indianacc.org and use our new Legislative Action Center to be engaged in 2010 and beyond,” said Tebbe. “We welcome your involvement and look forward to working together for the benefit of the common in good in Indiana.”
Indiana Catholic Conference makes
political action easier than ever for Hoosier Catholics in 2010
Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Glenn Tebbe, the Indiana Catholic Conference’s executive director, has one for all Catholics to consider this year-political engagement. “It’s quick, easy and believe it or not, it’s actually part of our baptismal call and duty as Catholics to be engaged in the process,” says Tebbe.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reminds us “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent to the dignity of the human person. … As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.” (Nos.1913-1915)
Getting involved in the public policy making process has never been easier than it is now. The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), the Church’s official representative in public policy matters, launched an electronic Legislative Action Center available on its Web page, which allows visitors to identify and contact state and national public officials quickly and easily using a few keystrokes.
Visitors to the center also have the option to join the ICC’s Legislative Action Network. By joining the network, members will begin receiving a weekly electronic newsletter called I-CAN Update when the Indiana General Assembly is in session during the months of January through March 2010.
Network members also receive periodic electronic “Action Alerts” to assist the Church’s legislative efforts at the statehouse by contacting lawmakers.
“When the Indiana General Assembly is in session, getting input from constituents is vital to the process,” said Tebbe. “The Church can be more effective in shaping morally sound public policy when Catholics work together with one voice.”
To explore the ICC’s new, online, public policy tool, go to the ICC Web page at www.indianacc.org. Click “Action Alerts,” which takes visitors to the Legislative Action Center.
What is the Indiana Catholic Conference?
Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the statewide coordinating body for the five Roman Catholic dioceses in Indiana. Its basic purpose is to serve the spiritual, moral and material well-being of the people of the state:
• By serving as the official spokesperson for the bishops and Catholic faithful regarding state and national matters
• By representing the Church and developing cooperative relationship where common public policy interests exist with religious and civic, social and governmental units
• By serving as liaison between the Catholic Church in Indiana and national Catholic groups in areas of common public policy interests.
Indiana Catholic Conference Web page
Legislative Action Center www.indianacc.org click “Legislative Action Center”
Join the Indiana Catholic Action Network (I-CAN) at www.indianacc.org click “Join I-CAN Network”
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. www.faithfulcitizenship.org
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