Category: Uncategorized

Hoosier Environmental Council urges veto to save wetlands

March 13, 2020

SEA 229 will lead to loss of wetlands. Wetlands are important because they purify water, absorb excess water, and provide critical habitat for many species.

Background: In the 1800’s, Indiana’s wetlands were drained to make way for farms and towns. Only 10 – 15% of the original wetlands are left. In 2003, the legislature recognized the value of preserving the remaining wetlands and wrote the Indiana Isolated Wetlands Law. SEA 229 creates a major new exemption to the Isolated Wetlands Law for reconstruction of regulated drains.

What does “reconstruction” mean? In the Drainage Code ‘reconstruction’ includes enlarging drains or “making any major change”. It is extensive work that could damage wetlands.

How is SEA 229 a problem?

  •   It opens a broad exemption that will hurt our remaining wetlands.
  •   It contains a key provision which is subjective and undefined (reconstruction is exempt if itdoes not “substantially change the characteristics of the drain”).
  •   It creates regulatory confusion with federally protected wetlands.Does the current law allow for drain reconstruction? The Wetlands Law in its current form does not stop reconstruction of drains. It just has a permit process to ensure that wetlands are preserved to the maximum extent possible and replaced when they can’t be preserved.

Take Action: Email Governor Holcomb at GovHolcomb@gov.in.gov and ask him to please protect Indiana’s remaining wetlands and veto SEA 229.




Educators run for state offices

March 6, 2020

Diana Hadley, Guest Column for The Statehosuefile.com

From my 46 years as an educator, I can remember many special moments, but one of the most inspiring was the Red for Ed rally at the Indiana Statehouse last fall. As I walked within a collective red mass of over 17,000 educators and others who came to support public education, I brushed away a few tears as I experienced the positive energy of the professionals I respect so much unified as a force.

No one expected a one-day rally to solve all the problems with education, but it did ignite teacher engagement. Those who attended the rally and many who watched on the news realized this was the moment that teachers served notice.  Non-educators should not control education policy. 

Currently, the 150 members of the 2020 Indiana General Assembly include some retired educators, but only two working teachers, Rep. Melanie Wright, Daleville Community Schools elementary music teacher, and Rep. Tonya Pfaff, Terre Haute North Vigo High School math teacher.

That number has the potential to increase as 24 educators representing both parties have filed to run for state offices this year—and be elected if thousands of others help them.

Pfaff, elected in 2018, says she isn’t sure what the magic number of teachers added to the current mix of legislators is; but with a major portion of the state budget going to education, more educators are needed to make good decisions. 

Wright, a legislator since 2014, says, “We need more teachers here for sure.”

A few other legislators have kept their teaching jobs and served in the legislature over the years, but it takes commitment, energy and organization. Rep. Sheila Klinker, a retired teacher from Lafayette, has served in the legislature since 1982 and encourages other teachers who are seeking offices. She gives credit to administrators who encouraged her to manage two important jobs for 38 and 35 years, respectively. 

Like Klinker, Wright and Pfaff say they appreciate encouragement from their administrators to serve in addition to the administrators’ effort to find qualified substitute teachers to provide continuity for their students during the sessions.

In regard to the challenges, both Wright and Pfaff agree there isn’t a financial challenge. The legislative salary makes up for the lost income when they are not teaching.

However, the challenge of running for office while maintaining a full-time teaching job is exhausting. Teachers who become a part of the political process for the first time can be overwhelmed as they work after school hours to manage a staff, organize fundraising and interact with voters at events and door-to-door canvassing necessary for a successful campaign.

John Hurley, a technology teacher from South Spencer High School for 10 years, is running for state representative in District 75.   He is willing to take on this work because he wants to “put public education at the forefront.” But he says he needs volunteers to help with communication, funding, phone banks, and signs as he continues to teach.

Pfaff says being a legislator is not for everyone; many teachers have family circumstances and other responsibilities that make running for office impossible. But those who cannot run themselves can help others who can in many ways that Hurley mentioned, and they must.

Educators provide a wide variety of experiences from preschool through higher education, arts and sciences to special needs. All of these plus a teacher’s sense of humanity and service are essential as educational issues are discussed and laws are passed.

Like most teachers, Pfaff and Wright believe education has become too data driven as the current testing climate has eliminated high interest projects and collaboration. Wright says, “I think the human component is missing. We have shut down creativity.”

Pfaff says that in 2010 she was in the middle of raising four children while her husband was in and out of deployments in the military. She started paying attention and realizing how legislative decisions were affecting her classroom. She didn’t have time to teach important areas that would prepare her students for higher education, jobs and the military. 

As Pfaff and her husband considered her run for an open seat in District 43, she asked herself, “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?”

Every educator might also ask, “If I can’t personally run, how can I help others?”

Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi is often given credit for the popular legislative observation that “anyone who isn’t at the table is on the menu.” 

Teachers realize they have been on the menu long enough. 

They need to be at the table.




RE: HB 1414 – A Healthy Influence of Coal Lobby on Indiana Politics?

Janurary 24, 2020

Mary Blackburn

Recently, Representative Ed Soliday has fast-tracked legislation that is anti-conservative and anti-business.  HB 1414 would stop utilities from making the best economic decisions for their shareholders and/or customers when they do a full financial analysis and determine that upgrading electricity production to less expensive renewables of wind and solar is best for business.  While the national energy markets are investing in other sources of cost-effective energy production for the 21st century, Rep. Soliday’s bill appears to hold Hoosier energy production back in the 20th century.

During the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force study committee hearings this past year, many representatives of the coal and fossil industries testified.  While several of these speakers opined on the unfairness of subsidies for renewable energy in tax credits, the costs of pollution to the air, water and soil and their negative effects on human health were not considered.  When some committee members tried to raise questions about the unaccounted costs of health care for conditions such as preterm birth, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and cancer that have been associated with living near coal fired power plants, these were dismissed as irrelevant.

Did the Task Force recognize, the real dangers to Indiana water supplies that are likely with the more frequent severe rain events causing flooding along our waterways?  Many toxic coal ash ponds are located next to sources of drinking water.  Were such known risks even acknowledged?

The minutes from the interim study closing session state the following:

“Task Force Action: The Task Force made no findings or recommendations regarding the testimony received at the meeting. The Task Force considered a draft of an interim information report that: (1) summarizes the Task Force’s statutory directive and work program for the 2019 interim; and (2) states that the Task Force issued no findings or recommendations concerning any of the topics it considered during the interim. (See Exhibit 12.) The Task Force adopted the information report on a 10-0 roll call vote. (See Exhibit 13).”

HB 1414 seems to reach a conclusion not supported by the Task Force minutes.  At best, it makes sense only if one turns a blind eye – as the Task Force leadership did in its committee hearings — to the higher costs and ill health effects of continuing reliance on expensive coal-fired power plants.  Hoosiers who care about utilities’ right to choose the benefit of cheaper, cleaner energy production should oppose HB 1414.




Citizens encouraged to support redistricting reform Jan. 16

January 11, 2020

Phil Goodchild

The 2020 General Assembly started last Monday, and it’s a short session this year. Our legislators will be packing up and heading home by early March. That leaves us very little time to reform redistricting before new legislative maps are drawn in 2021.  

We hit the ground running on the first day of session with a very successful Statehouse press conference to announce two redistricting reform bills being introduced by Sen. John Ruckelshaus-R, Dist.30. A bipartisan team of legislators attended who pledged their support for redistricting reform by publicly signing the End Gerrymandering Pledge, a national initiative championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Holder.   

It’s extremely important we continue to make redistricting reform visible and keep it at the top of the legislative agenda. Citizens can help make a difference right now by joining the AllIN4Democracy Lobby Day January 16.

WHAT: Redistricting Reform Lobby Day

WHEN: Thursday, January 16 at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Indiana State Library, 315 West Ohio Street, History Reference Room

After a briefing on the status of the bills and some talking points, you are encouraged to walk across the street to the Statehouse and talk to your legislators about reform.  It’s best to call their offices in advance and make an appointment. (One way to get their telephone numbers can be found at “Find Your Representative” on this website.

At least two more Republican legislators, Rep. Woody Burton-R, Dist. 58 and Sen. Greg Walker-D, Dist. 41, have publicly signed the End Gerrymandering Pledge just this week. After the struggle to find support among Republicans the last several years, this is great news!  Please join us on January 16 to learn how to talk with your representatives about supporting this vital reform, then meet with them.  They need to hear from us!  Thank you.

Photo: After the Jan. 6 press conference, legislators sign the End Gerrymandering Pledge. Photo submitted by Phil Goodchild




IFCL members participate in Organization Day at Statehouse

November 21, 2019

IFCL members Phil Goodchild, Jim Donahue, Ed Morris and Diana Hadley participated in two rallies, Red for Ed Action Day and All In 4 Democracy, at the Indiana Statehouse November 19, 2019.

Estimates as high as 20,000 people joined forces to encourage legislators to address a variety of education issues.

In addition, All In 4 Democracy urged citizens to persuade their legislators to provide a more transparent system for mapping legislative districts.

As the 2020 legislative session approaches, IFCL invites people to share concerns that IFCL might address.




IFCL shares Tim Grimm concert

July 29, 2019

Hoosier singer/songwriter Tim Grimm entertained and inspired those who attended his concert sponsored by IFCL Saturday, July 28, 2019. Grimm’s sons Connor and Jackson added a special treat for the event.




IFCL sponsors Tim Grimm Concert July 27

July 15, 2019

Tim Grimm is a singer-songwriter and actor residing in south-central Indiana. He has released a dozen recordings in the US and Europe, and is known for his rich storytelling sense and his deep love of the rural Midwest. 

His recent release, Heart Land Again, revisits songs from a 20-year-old recording. Grimm infuses them with the conviction of time and with the help of his two musician sons—who were only small boys when the album was first released. Grimm is joined too by his wife Jan—making this the third “Family Band” recording. In 2016, the family released FINDING HOME: Indiana at 200— a recording of original songs from the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Bicentennial production of the same name. In 2017, the Family band released A STRANGER IN THIS TIME— a recording that ended up as the #1 (most played) Album on Folk Radio for the year, and also produced the #1 Song- GONNA BE GREAT. 

Tim grew up in the hills of Brown County and in the town of Columbus (IN), where his parents were teachers. He attended Earlham College (BA) and The University of Michigan (MFA). He has worked extensively in film and television and in regional theatre. Current projects include voicing Eugene Debbs and composing music for an upcoming documentary film on Debbs for WFYI, and acting in a new feature film, SWING SHIFT, portraying actor Richard Jenkins’ brother. 

Tim also leads three different small group tours to Europe each year. THE TURNING POINT tour travels to The Netherlands; BEYOND THE TARTAN Tour travels through Scotland; and INISHFREE MUSIC TOURS travel through three counties of Ireland. The groups average only 8-22 guests per trip and highlight the culture, history and arts of each individual country. Music plays a part in each of the tours as well— both Tim’s music and some of the finest local musicians in the areas. For more information on Tim and these tours, visit www.timgrimm.com




IFCL honors legislators with appreciation award

July 15, 2019

IFCL enjoyed meeting with State Representative Carey Hamilton and State Senator John Ruckelshaus Saturday, July 13. In addition to spending time discussing issues for the next legislative session, IFCL members presented the two legislators with appreciation awards for their support for IFCL priorities during the 2019 General Assembly session.

Diana Hadley, IFCL Clerk, and Ed Morris, IFCL member and constituent of both Hamilton and Ruckelshaus, presented the awards.




Redistricting Reform Rally for SB 105, March 26

March 20, 2019

Phil Goodchild

Time is growing short for meaningful action by the Indiana General Assembly this session on redistricting reform.  SB 105, the redistricting standards bill passed by the Indiana Senate last month, needs a hearing by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee to stay alive this year.

Please join us for a rally and march in Indianapolis on March 26 — “Slay the Gerrymander!”  

See below for more event details. This event is sponsored by All IN for Democracy, the coalition working for redistricting reform of which IFCL has been a part.

Thank you for your interest and activism.

Will SCOTUS Slay the Gerrymander? 

On March 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two partisan gerrymandering lawsuits: one from North Carolina where Republicans used redistricting to their advantage, and one from Maryland where Democrats did the same. It’s time for the Supreme Court to take a stand on this issue — and declare partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional.

If they do, it will absolutely help our efforts to win redistricting reform here in Indiana. As it stands now, without a definitive decision from the highest court in the land, politicians know they can get away with drawing maps that serve political interests,not the public interest. This has to stop.To call attention to the important cases being heard at the Supreme Court on March 26th — and to highlight the need for a hearing and vote on SB105, the redistricting standards bill that passed the Indiana Senate last month — the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting is holding a rally and march for redistricting reform.

WHAT: Rally and march for redistricting reform
WHEN: March 26th at 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: Federal Courthouse (corner of Ohio and Meridian Streets in downtown Indianapolis)
RSVP: Email Julia at jvaughn@commoncause.org

We’ll meet at noon in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis — at the corner of Meridian and Ohio Streets — for some brief remarks by activists and legal experts.  Then we’ll march three blocks to the State House to send a message to legislators that Hoosiers want action on redistricting reform this year.I hope you will be able to join us next week to stand in solidarity with the attorneys and activists who have brought this litigation to the nation’s highest court — and to call for Indiana legislators to take action on redistricting reform this year.





Prescription drug pricing study bill advances from health committee

Feb. 11, 2019

The prescription drug pricing study bill HB 1029 passed the House health committee last week 11-0 and is set to be voted on in the House Feb. 11, and it is expected to pass. 

There were several media stories in advance and some moving, powerful testimony from patients and an MD about the trauma caused by crazy-high insulin prices. 

The same approach is planned for the Senate.

The action ask is the same as it has been: push out the online petition asking for Indiana General Assembly action –it has 800-plus signatures now: https://www.change.org/p/let-hoosiers-be-heard-on-prescription-drug-pricing

Thanks to all for your advocacy this session!

Fran Quigley 

Fran.quigley.ifcl@gmail.com




Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation
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