INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Catholic Conference’s (ICC) legislative priorities successfully reached the halfway point in the Indiana General Assembly, also known as “crossover.”
Among the ICC priority bills that have advanced to “crossover” include: a measure to strengthen traditional marriage, and bills to improve early childhood education and child-care safety. Legislation to clarify insurance coverage for abortion and a bill to provide better follow-up care after an abortion also moved forward.
Glenn Tebbe, executive director for the Indiana Catholic Conference, who serves as the official spokesman for the Catholic Church on public policy matters, said, “The majority of the bills we have supported this year have passed the first chamber with bipartisan support.”
House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR 3), authored by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, would solidify current law that marriage is between one man and one woman by putting that definition into Indiana’s Constitution.
HJR 3 passed the House, 57-40, Jan. 28, after being amended the previous day. HJR 3 currently contains only the statement that a marriage is between one man and one woman. On Jan. 27, the House voted, 52-43, to remove the second sentence, which prohibits any legal status “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage” for unmarried individuals. Turner argued to keep the second sentence because it provides a stronger definition of marriage between one man and one woman, thus banning other legal same-sex arrangements like civil unions.
HJR 3 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary on Feb. 10. Tebbe expects there will be attempts in the Senate to restore HJR 3 to its original form putting the second sentence back into the resolution.
A bill to give low-income families with young children access to an early education voucher passed the House Jan. 16, receiving a bipartisan vote of 87-9. The bill, House Bill 1004, establishes the early education scholarship pilot program. The program would provide supplemental funding for eligible children receiving qualified services from certain early education providers. The bill gives a child or a sibling of a child who receives an early-education scholarship and meets certain other applicable criteria access to the Choice Scholarship program from grades K-12.
Three Indianapolis lawmakers, Rep. Bob Behning and House Speaker Brian Bosma, both Republicans, and Democrat lawmaker Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh authored the bill. Tebbe expects the bill to get a hearing in the Senate, but noted that the Senate has been less receptive to early childhood education.
A bill to improve child care regulations for families passed the House, Jan. 28, with bipartisan support, 71– 24. The proposal, House Bill 1036, authored by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, increases accountability and improves group sizes of children, food, health, safety and sanitation standards. The Division of Family and Children (DFC) would determine the specific standards. The bill moves to the Senate for further consideration. Tebbe expects the bill to get a hearing in the Senate and move forward.
A bill to clarify insurance for elective abortion, House Bill 1123, passed the House with bipartisan support, 80-14. The bill, authored by Rep. Jeffery Thompson, R-Lizton, would prohibit elective abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. The bill would make elective abortion coverage available only as a separate rider for health insurance policies purchased privately and in group coverage. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. Tebbe expects the bill to get a hearing in the Senate and move forward in the process.
A bill to enhance follow-up care after an abortion passed the Senate, 34-14, on Feb. 4. The bill, Senate Bill 292, authored by Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, provides clarity to the current abortion statute by requiring written documentation of admitting privileges and better notification of where follow-up care can be obtained should complications follow an abortion. Tebbe said the fate of SB 292 is uncertain due to the controversial nature of abortion legislation.
Tebbe explained that a few bills the ICC was successful in halting include House Bill 1264 and Senate Bill 162, which would have added unnecessary government regulation to the school voucher program; and Senate Bill 62, a bill to add more out-of-state gaming operations to compete for Hoosier limited charitable gaming dollars.
What happens next in the legislative process? Tebbe said, “The process starts over again; existing Senate bills will ‘crossover’ to the House to be considered by the House and House bills will ‘crossover’ to the Senate to be considered by the Senate.”
A glance at half-way point, “crossover”
• Marriage Amendment — House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR 3) would solidify current law that marriage is between one man and one woman by putting that definition into Indiana’s Constitution. The marriage amendment passed the House 57-40. Status: It moves to the Senate. The Senate Judiciary heard HJR 3 Feb. 10.
• Early education voucher, House Bill 1004, establishes the early education scholarship program for lower income families. The bill passed the House 87-9. Status: It moves to the Senate. The Senate Education and Career Development Committee will hear HB 1004, Feb. 12.
• Child-care regulation, House Bill 1036, increases safety and accountability to certain childcare facilities. It passed the House 71-24. Status: It moves to the Senate. Referred to Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, awaits a hearing.
• Elective Abortion health insurance coverage, House Bill 1123, would prohibit elective abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. It passed the House, 80-14. Status: It moves to the Senate. Referred to Senate Insurance Committee, awaits a hearing.
• Abortion follow-up care, SB 292, would enhance follow-up care after an abortion. It passed the Senate 34-14. Status: It moves to the House. Referred to the House, awaits assignment to a House Committee.
The Indiana Catholic Conference provides a Legislative Action Center. Go to www.indianacc.org. Visitors to the center can sign up for the weekly I-CAN Update newsletter, identify his or her representatives, contact lawmakers, and much more. To explore the new means of political engagement go to www.indianacc.org and click “Legislative Action Center.”
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