INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Indiana democratic lawmakers are demanding a special session in August. It would address justice reform, the upcoming election and COVID-19 response.
“We feel our state is facing unprecedented events that require immediate attention,” said Senate Minority Leader State Sen. Tim Lanane. “We can pass police reform measures, we can extend no-excuse absentee voting to all Hoosiers for this upcoming most important general election and we can make sure that there is a fair disbursement of the over $2 billion in CARES Act money that has yet been used to help Hoosier families.”
Democrats feel lawmakers should help decide how federal pandemic relief money should be spent, not the appointed eight unelected people behind closed doors. The governor created a task force to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds the state of Indiana receives from the CARES Act back in April.
“It’s important that those elected to represent you can voice your concerns,” said Indiana State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta. “And make sure that all Hoosiers have what they need to survive during these trying times.”
Democrats also would like to choose whether all Hoosiers can have the option to vote by mail in November.
“No one should have to decide between their health and their right to vote,” said Lanane.
They would like to extend the collection of absentee ballots up to 6 p.m. on Election Day.
When it comes to justice reform— they said some issues can’t wait for 2021 like banning chokeholds, racial profiling, and no-knock warrants.
“These immediate actions can go a long way in showing Black Hoosiers that the governor and the state values Black lives,” said State Rep. Robin Shackleford, the Chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.
Governor Eric Holcomb was asked about these demands from the democrats just after they announced them.
“It’s not on my agenda right now but that’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Holcomb. “So, they must have had their own press conference while we were having ours. I’ll absolutely look at everything that they are recommending.”
We’ll let you know what he says after he looks it over.
We also reached out to republican legislative leaders Senator Rodric Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston.
“The Indiana General Assembly is an institution that was created in order to make thoughtful and meaningful policy decisions with plenty of public input, and that work doesn’t just happen while the session is underway. In addition to study committees, every interim we have informal working groups that form naturally as we to look to build consensus around issues ahead of the next session, and that’s exactly what’s happening now with regard to police reform issues,” said Sen. Bray. “My caucus members and I have been working with our colleagues across the aisle and have found some common ground on the reform issues thus far, and we will continue to be active in these discussions throughout the rest of the year, as we head into session in January, and beyond. As such, I do not believe a special session is merited at this time, though I certainly acknowledge the importance of policing issues and believe we should continue to look to build consensus as we prepare for session in January.”
Speaker Huston sent a statement.
“While I don’t believe a special session is necessary at this time, important and productive conversations on these topics are ongoing. I’ve met with leaders from the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus as well as law enforcement leaders and other stakeholders, and my pledge to all of them has been that our team will continue working with them to further improve and support our criminal justice system,” said Huston. “I remain in regular contact with the governor’s office and have every confidence they are working responsibly to utilize CARES Act funding to get Indiana back on track as quickly as possible. Also, the Indiana Election Commission has statutory authority to take various actions if needed, and I’m certain the secretary of state and our local election officials will be able to ensure a safe and secure election for all Hoosiers.”