May 22nd Service for Jeanette Neagu

14 May
Saturday, May 22 at 11 a.m., the Neagu family will hold a Celebration of Life service in memory of their mother, and our friend, Jeanette Neagu.  This event will take place at the Friendship Botanical Gardens, at the Romanian Garden.
The service will start at 11, so be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time, since the Romanian garden section is about a 10 minute paved walk from the parking lot. Golf carts will be available if you need a ride. Social distancing will be observed; La Porte County, IN, is in the high-risk category as of this writing, so masks may be appropriate as well. The Friendship Botanical Gardens are on the south side of Highway 12 in Michigan City, east of the Casino and west of Karwick Plaza. Jeanette devoted a considerable amount of time to designing and planting the Romanian Garden in memory of her husband, George. When we find out more detailed information about a memorial project being planned in the names of Jeanette and George Neagu. Here is an invitation Link http://evite.me/ZbDG3EYghP
 
Thanks,
Cheryl Chapman
LWVIN Natural Resources Advocacy Team

Wet Lands of Indiana no longer Protected! Join our 7 pm-May 20th Zoom meeting with Hoosier Environmental Council Director

11 May

“Climate Solutions in Indiana: What Policy Paths in Indiana?” Presented by Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the HEC 5-20 2021 7pm Zoom and face book links below

http://facebook.com/hecweb use this log in at 7pm on Thursday May 20th. before, please invite Facebook friends here https://www.facebook.com/events/465391391463017

  • If you don’t have Facebook use Zoom below

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83611208835?pwd=c2dVSGprdk8yZ0dlZTVaMWpLVkxkQT09

Hoosier Environmental Council is Indiana’s largest environmental public policy organization. Learn More About Them on their web page

Photos from 100th Anniversary of 19th amendment & LWV Tea

26 Apr
Speaker Professor April Lidinsly
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SCHOOL REFERENDUM VOTE MAY 4TH

26 Apr
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Taking a moment to E-mail or phone your legislator can work. Please continue being active in your government.

23 Apr

Celebrate Earth Day By having Gov. Holcomb VETO loss of wetlands protection bill SB 389

22 Apr

Governor Holcomb: Email http://www.in.gov/gov/2752.htm

State House Room 206

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

Phone 317-232-4567

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Early Voting and May 4th voting places for Elkhart School Referendum

9 Apr

Voting, Education, and Environmental Legislation to be concerned about-perhaps send an E-mail

19 Mar

“House Bill 1005 would divert a nine-figure sum over two years from public education”, quoted the co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Indiana.

Read further at news source

The League of Women Voters of Indiana supports funding equal access to quality education for all Indiana children. Public schools are open to all students regardless of race, religion or ability.

They are a unifying force in our society. The league opposes diverting public funds to nonpublic schools, whether through vouchers, tuition tax credits, tax deductions or choice scholarships.

House Bill 1005 will, if enacted, divert a nine-figure sum from the two-year education budget to expand the state’s voucher program and create education savings accounts. The expansion would raise income eligibility, making vouchers available to families with incomes starting at $145,000 for a family of four.

Most flawed is the proposed Education Scholarship Account program. For 187,000 eligible students — special education, active military and foster students — there would be no supervision, no accountability, no community responsibility.

The bill specifically bans curriculum oversight by the state. 

The Indiana Constitution specifically requires the state to provide a public education for its residents. Nowhere does it mention diverting tax dollars to families choosing private over public education.

Linda Hanson and Barbara Schilling

http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/house/1005#document-45038d3e

OUR STATE SENATOR LINDA ROGERS DISTRICT 11 IS ON THE EDUCATION BUDGET COMMITTEE- AS A CONSTITUENT- E-MAIL HER TO VOTE NO HB 1005 Linda.rogers@iga.in.gov

VOTING LEGISLATION

Indiana SB 353 sponsored by Tim WESCO : Prohibits the Indiana election commission from: (1) instituting, increasing, or expanding vote by mail or absentee vote by mail; and (2) changing the time, place, or manner of holding an election. Prohibits a person from providing an absentee ballot application with the driver’s license number or last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number already printed on the form. Requires an applicant for an absentee ballot application to include the driver’s license number or last four digits of the individual’s Social Security number. Prohibits the governor from changing, during a declared disaster emergency, the time, place, or manner of holding an election. https://texasscorecard.com/state/state-still-cant-require-voters-to-prove-citizenship-federal-court-rules/

Indiana HB 1365 Time Wesco: Requires absentee ballots have a phone number- (Affects-Amish, homeless, and poor people)

ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

Hello Environmentally Concerned League Members and Friends – This update (slightly edited for your convenience) just came in from the Hoosier Environmental Council.  Please make calls or send e-mails asap, even if your contact would be a repeat.  See the elaboration for new alarming information.  Thanks!  Liz Solberg, Kristina Lindborg, and also on behalf of Lisa Harris, Co-Chairs, LWVIN NR Advocacy
Dear Wetland Friends,
The long-awaited amendment to the wetlands bill, SB 389, was finally released late yesterday and the bottom line is that it is awful.  Details follow, but here’s the short message:  
Please do all you can before Monday to get messages to the House Environmental Affairs Committee to save Indiana’s remaining wetlands by opposing SB 389 and opposing Amendment 11.Committee Members and Legislative Assistants:

CHAIR: Doug Gutweinh16@iga.in.gov317-234-9139Jake Carrico
VICE CHAIR: Mike Speedyh90@iga.in.gov317-232-9815Whitney Peterson
Mike Aylesworthh11@iga.in.gov317-234-9447Conner McCarthy
Beau Bairdh44@iga.in.gov317-232-9981Bethany Schrock
John Jacobh93@iga.in.gov317-232-9648Hannah Joy Alte
Don Leheh25@iga.in.gov317-232-9816Lewis Ostermeyer
J.D. Prescotth33@iga.in.gov317-234-3827Dolan Monroe
Hal Slagerh15@iga.in.gov317-232-9833Matthew LoPrete
Jeff Thompsonh28@iga.in.gov317-232-9651Emily Skooglund
Sue Erringtonh34@iga.in.gov317-233-5248Shelby Baumgartner
Maureen Bauerh6@iga.in.gov317-234-3101Jalen Jones
Pat Boyh9@iga.in.gov317-233-5248Shelby Baumgartner
Carolyn Jacksonh1@iga.in.gov317-232-9875Peter Okeafor

Elaboration:Despite weeks of negotiation by IDEM and despite all the legislators who told us there would be a reasonable compromise, the House Environmental Affairs Committee is going to take up Amendment #11 to the bill that will gut Indiana’s wetlands law.  They will meet Monday, March 22, at 10:30 AM.
Indiana’s environmental agency, IDEM, spent weeks negotiating a compromise that would have hurt wetlands a bit in order to stave off the repeal of the wetlands law in the original SB 389.  Amendment 11 that the committee is going to consider is NOT what IDEM negotiated.  The bill’s authors and the committee chair have apparently decided to abandon the negotiated agreement.
Amendment 11 will lead to loss of much of Indiana’s remaining wetlands.  It allows destruction of

  •  all Class I wetlands 
  • up to one acre of Class II or Class III if they are within the borders of a municipality.  
  •  up to 1/2 acre of Class II and 1/4 acre of Class III outside municipalities 
  •  wetlands that are on cropland sold for development
  • ephemeral streams

It also greatly reduces the wetland mitigation ratios and it increases the amount of wetland that can be destroyed when there are several wetlands involved in the same development project.  I’ve included a table comparing Amendment 11 to existing law below.
If SB 389 passes in its current form or with Amendment 11, Indiana will pay a high price in increased flooding, lost groundwater recharge, lost water purification, and loss of endangered and threatened species.
From the standpoint of process, amendment 11 is not the result of a multi-stakeholder compromise.  It reflects the priorities of only one stakeholder – the Builders Association.  The 77 Indiana organizations on record as opposing SB 389 were left entirely out of the negotiation process, despite the extensive wetland expertise they embody.

Amendment 11 Existing law 
Exempts all Class I wetlands Exempts ½ acre 
Exempts ½ acre of Class II Exempts ¼ acre 
Exempts ¼ acre of Class III No exemption 
Exempts 1 acre of Class II or III within a municipality No exemption 
Enlarges cumulative exemption when there is >1 wetland on a property  
Exempts dredge and fill activities in ephemeral streams  
Allows wetland destruction for development on cropland that was farmed any time in the last 5 years  
Reduces mitigation ratios  
IDEM’s time to issue wetland permit 90 days 120 days 

Please do all you can before Monday to tell the House Environmental Affairs Committee to save Indiana’s remaining wetlands by opposing SB 389 and opposing Amendment 11.
If you are interested in testifying in-person, please let me know and see the committee agenda and appearance form here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/committees/environmental_affairs_0700
Thanks for all you are doing! – Indra
Indra Frank, MD, MPH
Environmental Health & Water Policy Director
Hoosier Environmental Council
317-292-7311

Fight for fair voting in Indiana continues. SB 353 returns to the house- E-mail Tim Wesco r(21)

27 Feb

Amended version of SB 353 is at the bottom of this blog. The State League ask that the Senators not pass this bill -To no avail. Did you ask Senator Rogers to vote NO? This is our next attempt- Please take a minute to send Tim Wesco an E-mail and phone him. He is the sponsor and Chair of the elections committee and can stop this bill that sets up voting barriers. TIM WESCO – h21@iga.in.gov ph 317 232 9753 you can copy and paste, then sign with your address and phone number.

Dear Representative Wesco, As a member of the League of Women Voters and an advocate of voting rights, I would ask you to VOTE NO for SB353. Why sponsor a bill that makes it more difficult for registered people to vote. It prohibits necessary actions by the governor in a time of emergency.  Tying the hands of the leadership to make essential changes in the election process in times of emergency.  This will create unnecessary hardships for voters.  This language makes voting harder in times of crisis.  This bill will serve to disenfranchises voters and will harm the process of democracy.  
To prohibit the Indiana Election Commission is an overreach and usurps that group’s responsibilities.   This language limits the commission’s ability to serve and protect Indiana voters’ rights.  
The Indiana General Assembly is using this law to restrict voters’ access by making voting more difficult during times of emergency.
Adding the Social Security number or the drivers’ license number requirement to the absentee ballot application process may impede some voters.  Current processes already preclude an unregistered voter from receiving an absentee ballot. This language in the bill adds nothing to election security.  This language is totally meritless. This part of your bill is unconstitutional.
The goal of this bill is to erect barriers to voting.  By adding unnecessary steps to applying for an absentee ballot, this bill makes the process more difficult and increases chances for error. By blocking interventions by state leadership in times of crisis, guarantees that voters’ rights will not be protected and assures specific groups in the electorate will have to overcome onerous barriers to be able to vote.

News release from Chicago Feb. 17th. The Indiana Senate has sent the bill back to the house after they determined this requirement of proof of citizenship was unconstitutional. Thank you Chicago Civil Rights Lawyers.

Indiana has some of the nation’s harshest voting restrictions. Recently, state lawmakers proposed erecting another barrier by requiring eligible voters to bring proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi speaks about voting rights.
Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi speaks about voting rights.

Non-citizens are already kept off the voter rolls through existing protections, which have made instances of illegal voting vanishingly rare in Indiana and across the nation. The proof-of-citizenship provision that had been proposed in Senate Bill 353 would only serve to further disenfranchise and intimidate eligible voters, particularly citizens of color.

On February 15, our Senior Counsel Ami Gandhi submitted testimony to the Indiana State Elections Committee urging lawmakers to reject the proof of citizenship requirement in Senate Bill 353. The requirement was stripped from the bill because of constitutional concerns raised by advocates.

Read Ami Gandhi’s testimony below or click here to download it:

My name is Ami Gandhi and I am a Senior Counsel at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has been working for the past 50 years to advance racial equity and economic opportunity for all. The right to vote is fundamental to a healthy democracy. Our voting rights practice area was established to reduce barriers to voting and civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities, to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast ballots and make their voices heard. I lead our organization’s efforts to protect voting rights in Illinois and Indiana, and I reside in Indiana. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights submits this testimony today in opposition to Indiana Senate Bill 353, which requires documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration.

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee’s work puts us in a unique position to understand voter access barriers from the point of view of the voter. A major component of our work is Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, which operates the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline and supports companion lines at 888-VE-Y-VOTA, 888-API-VOTE, and 844-YALLAUS. Our staff and pro bono volunteers answer calls from Illinois and Indiana and have answered thousands of voter questions. Hoosiers called us in record breaking numbers during the 2020 primary and general elections, with many of them experiencing unfair barriers to registering and voting. We are proud to work with Common Cause Indiana, the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP, and national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on a number of initiatives to strengthen voter access, including litigation challenging Indiana state laws that undermine the fundamental right to vote.

Senate Bill 353 would block registration of eligible voters in violation of the United States Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act. Courts have struck down proof of citizenship laws in Kansas and other states. Requiring documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration will disenfranchise many eligible voters, including Black, Latino, and Asian American citizens. Seniors and low-wealth community members of all racial backgrounds and political parties would also be unduly burdened by having to track down and pay for the citizenship documents called for in the bill.

Senate Bill 353 would worsen already existing racial disparities in voter registration access. Adding onerous and unfair steps to voter registration is a modern-day form of a poll tax or literacy test. This bill would invite illegal racial profiling and discrimination by state and local election authorities and other charged with administering our elections. If documentary proof of citizenship were required, voters who are perceived to be “foreign” would especially be at risk of being unfairly taken off the voter rolls. Voter registration drives in all Indiana communities would be made unreasonably difficult.

This bill is a solution in search of a problem. The facts show in Indiana and across the nation that voter fraud occurs at an exceedingly low rate, given the existing protections to keep non-citizens off voter rolls. Our immigrant communities are well aware of the grave repercussions for noncitizens who vote and have no interest in illegal voting or registration.

Throughout our history and unfortunately still today, rhetoric about voter fraud has been used to disenfranchise and intimidate eligible voters, particularly citizens of color. Given the violent events at the United States Capitol on January 6 and the danger caused by efforts to discredit American elections, this is a frightening moment for the Indiana legislature to perpetuate myths of widespread voter fraud.

Indiana should be tearing down barriers to voting, not erecting new ones. We need more, not fewer, citizens to take an interest in registration and voting. The time is ripe to improve election administration, but this bill would do the opposite. Those states that are legitimately working to improve election administration have been taking actions to make voter registration more fair, accurate, and streamlined. Instead, Senate Bill 353 would take Indiana a big step backward.

As an experienced voting rights and civil rights attorney, a resident of Indiana, and the daughter of immigrants, I am deeply concerned about the disenfranchisement that Senate Bill 353 would cause. Such policies send a message to immigrant citizens and citizens of color – a message that we don’t belong in Indiana. The Indiana Senate Elections Committee should reject the proof of citizenship requirement in Senate Bill 353. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today.February 17, 2021

SB353

Citations Affected: IC 3-6; IC 3-11; IC 10-14.

Synopsis: Various election law matters. Prohibits the Indiana election commission from: (1) instituting, increasing, or expanding vote by mail or absentee vote by mail; and (2) changing the time, place, or manner of holding an election. Prohibits a person from providing an absentee ballot application with the driver’s license number or last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number already printed on the form. Requires an applicant for an absentee ballot application to include the driver’s license number or last four digits of the individual’s Social Security number. Prohibits the governor from changing, during a declared disaster emergency, the time, place, or manner of holding an election.

Effective: July 1, 2021.

E-mail State Senator Rogers regarding SB 353

19 Feb

Before Monday-Take a few minutes in your day and help voters get absentee ballots easier. Unregistered voters are already blocked, these are un necessary steps to prevent more absentee ballots. Protect the VOTE, we need more participation in elections.

Copy and Paste letter if you like. Send to Senator.Rogers@iga.in.gov Sign your name with address and phone number

Dear Senator Rogers,Please Vote NO for Senate bill 353 on Monday. Senate Bill 353-Prohibits necessary actions by the governor in a time of emergency.  Tieing the hands of the leadership to make essential changes in the election process in times of emergency, will create unnecessary hardships for voters.  This language makes voting harder in times of crisis.  This bill will serve to disenfranchises voters and will harm the process of democracy.  
To prohibit the Indiana Election Commission is an overreach and usurps that group’s responsibilities.   This language limits the commission’s ability to serve and protect Indiana voters’ rights.  
The Indiana General Assembly is using this law to restrict voters’ access by making voting more difficult during times of emergency.
Adding the Social Security number or the drivers’ license number requirement to the absentee ballot impedes some voters.  The number requirement will result in legitimate cast votes being tossed because of error or confusion.  Current processes already preclude an unregistered voter from receiving an absentee ballot. This bill adds nothing to election security.
The goal of this bill is to erect barriers to voting.  By adding unnecessary steps to voting by absentee ballot, this bill makes the process more difficult and increases chances for error. By blocking interventions by state leadership in times of crisis, guarantees that voters’ rights will not be protected and assures specific groups in the electorate will have to overcome onerous barriers to be able to vote.

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