Thank God It’s A Short Session…..

Yesterday, I posted about one of the more odious bills being considered by Indiana’s legislature.

It’s just one example of why I always get an uneasy feeling when Indiana’s General Assembly is in session. Indiana’s legislators are an unpredictable mix; there are some thoughtful people who can genuinely be characterized as public servants, and then there are the others–religious zealots, wheeler-dealers, and a collection of rabid partisans for whom politics is a sport and their only loyalty is to their team.

This year, the legislature meets for its 60-day short session. (In Indiana, regular and short sessions alternate.) The fact that time to consider bills is limited, however, doesn’t prevent our culture warriors from introducing divisive and/or ridiculous proposals, which is one reason why Harrison Ullmann, the now-deceased editor of NUVO, our local alternative paper, always referred to Indiana’s General Assembly as “the World’s Worst Legislature.”

It isn’t just Rep. Soliday’s proposed gift to coal companies. A week or so ago, I posted about a bill authored by one Representative Curt Nisly–in addition to prohibiting all abortions, the bill presumed to forbid the courts to declare the measure unconstitutional or the executive branch to enforce any such court decisions if made. While I grant that the degree of constitutional ignorance displayed by that measure puts Nisly in a class of his own, plenty of other bills  demonstrate the often bizarre, corrupt and/or inhumane priorities of too many Indiana lawmakers.

In the “bizarre” category, the Northwest Indiana Times reports, tongue firmly in cheek:

The Indiana House is poised to vote Tuesday on what may be the most significant piece of pro-worker legislation since Republicans took majority control of the chamber in 2011.

It’s not an increase in the state’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage, unchanged since 2009. It’s not a requirement that businesses provide employees with their work schedules a week in advance. And it certainly won’t make it easier for workers to organize into unions and collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

Instead, House Bill 1143 would expressly prohibit an employer from requiring an employee, or a job candidate, to have an identification or tracking device implanted in their body as a condition of employment.

According to the Legislative Services Agency, there are currently no employers in the U.S. requiring such implantation. But hey–it might happen. You never know…

The ACLU of Indiana has a list of pending bills that threaten civil liberties, including one that Doug Masson analyzes at Masson’s Blog prohibiting persons born biologically male from competing in school sports contests against females. As he concludes:

As far as I can tell, this legislation isn’t so much an effort to address a real problem as it is simply a vehicle for expressing unhappiness that society is increasingly recognizing that gender identity is not perfectly correlated with biological sex.

Indiana’s lawmakers tend to be fixated on issues around sex and sexuality. Case in point is a measure that definitely belongs in the “inhumane” category: Indiana Senate Bill 300. This effort to allow discrimination in the service of (certain people’s) religion would allow mental health professionals to turn away clients seeking emergency services for suicide prevention and emergency interventions, “on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, those who have received reproductive services, those who are divorced, etc.”

Ironically titled “Conscience protection for mental health providers” the measure would prohibit a hospital or other employer from discriminating against or disciplining such a professional because of the “sincerely held ethical, moral, or religious belief” that impelled that “professional” (note quotation marks) to withhold emergency assistance to desperate people of whom he or she “sincerely” disapproves.

Indiana’s public schools are underfunded. Our teachers are underpaid. Indiana’s infrastructure is crumbling. Hoosiers are embarrassingly unhealthy. The opiod epidemic has been brutal here. I could go on and on.

But thanks primarily to gerrymandering, those issues get short shrift. The bills referenced above are a very small sample of the damaging nonsense that our legislators prefer to address, and that we Hoosiers have come to expect.

At least it’s a short session….


  1. Any thinking person knows denying emergency suicide prevention services can lead to death. How DARE these hypocrites call themselves ‘pro-life’.

  2. The saddest part of this is the fact that the majority of Hoosiers will never hear about it unless it comes to them from some pulpit disguised as a triumph for persecuted Christians. The details about the unintended consequences will never be reported except on a few blogs like this one.
    When news outlets water down or delete details in their reports it is the same as lying.
    “Every lie owes a debt to the truth. Sooner or later the debt will be paid.”

  3. I wonder how the legislators would respond to a bill allowing a surgeon who is an atheist to refuse to do surgery on someone with “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

  4. But, I do have to ask: Would a psychiatrist who would deny anybody help in any situation be qualified to hold those views and be employed as a licensed psychiatrist?

  5. I agree with Harrison’s assessment of Indiana having the “worlds worst legislature.”

    There will be residents of other states jealous of this fact and want to make a case for their state being worse. Still, Indiana consistently puts forth an assembly of inferior legislators. As Sheila points out, much of it can be traced back to gerrymandering.

    Another critical contribution relates to the significant financial contributors to the GOP in this state. Quite some time ago, when Tony Bennett was destroying education in this state, he used his office for running a political campaign that placed a treasure trove of “private GOP” documents into the public sphere. I was able to obtain emails and donor lists.

    Legislators from all over the state were begging for dollars from the “heavy hitters” and offered to do “whatever it takes” to gain access to their donations.

    When you consider our Kakistocracy in Indiana is so eager to serve the donor class, the marriage of the two produces incredulous outcomes session after session, year after year.

    And for the record, unless hundreds of thousands of unregistered voters suddenly become registered democrats, there will not be any studies of the status of our public health. Studies produce evidence/facts which can be used against the legislators. They avoid accountability like the plague. It’s why sections of Southwest Indiana are referred to as “Asthma Alley”; even the medical professionals are spineless when it comes to “serving the public.”

  6. The Texas legislature, after a major burst of self-realization, decided many years ago to only meet every OTHER year. That way, smart people realized, the harm they could do to the majority of the people in the state would be minimized. Otherwise, Texas would pass Indiana on the down elevator to the bottom of the Republican-dominated state legislature cesspool.

    Remember – as if you needed the reminder – EVERY Republican dominated state legislature is failing to serve its people in any number of ways: infrastructure, education, pollution, health care, poverty. In sum, Republicans simply give not a single crap about the working people, the poor and all those not millionaires. It’s really that simple. Oh, and did I mention that those Republican legislatures have purged 75+ million voters from their registration polls? Just sayin’

  7. Not quite a dramatic and or silly as the bills mentioned here, but on the theme of money talks – an amendment was killed yesterday that simply required utilities to do their jobs and mark where their utility lines were buried (as required under IC 8-1-26). The amendment would have added some teeth to that law and put in some (small) penalties for non-compliance. Stunningly, ATT killed it. Telecoms are the unregulated wild west and they’d like to keep it that way, thank you very much. Gas operators have some regulation (blow up a few houses on live TV and even lobbyists struggle to fight it), but everyone else still gets ignore the law now.

    Requiring people to do their jobs was probably asking too much.

  8. You’ve reminded me of just how much I miss Harrison Ullmann. He knew he was preaching to the choir, but the journalist in him couldn’t stop presenting facts nobody wanted to read. It’s probably a good thing he can’t see what we’ve become.

  9. HB 1143 actually isn’t that crazy, especially if you look t the history of workplace surveillance (going back to Henry Ford having investigators spy on employees’ home life to make sure there weren’t issues that would interfere with work) and current trends in employee monitoring. Current law isn’t entirely clear on protections against this kind of thing (does ECPA cover RFID transmissions as a form of communication?). Yes, other workplace issues desperately need to be addressed in Indiana law, but HB 1143 is at least a decent attempt to prevent an infringement of privacy that we’d be raging about down the road (and you can bet there’d be a contorted defense from conservatives for allowing it). And, Indiana wouldn’t be the first state to try to pass legislation preventing that use of RFID technology.

    For more, see:

  10. You know, this all just seems like a giant game of bait and switch. Confidence men, Grifters, Flimflam artists, and just general Miscreants, disguise their real motives under the guise of religious liberty.

    Some of these people actually believe what they say, and in general, if someone tells you what they are, you should believe them. But, if everyone is focusing on the absurdity of some of these edicts, a lot of the other stuff flies under the radar. Kind of “miss a little miss a lot.” Just like all of the news that’s missed during this impeachment trial, natural disasters, mass shootings, weather issues, environmental issues, general criminal behavior, and even upbuilding stories.

    Granted, this impeachment issue is important, it’s a potential historical course changing exercise and the triune design of government. Either it will work or it will fail! But that does not negate the shenanigans going on concerning health care, the social safety net, food assistance, mental health, gun-control, education, and social and civil liberties.

    I think, the term, “can’t see the forest because the trees are in the way” is an appropriate description of some of this sleight-of-hand looting out the back door, perpetrated by this organized, purposeful deception!

    So, what do you do? This system of the Press that has evolved over the past 20 years is really doing a disservice to everything that is happening now. People are not being completely informed, and folks turn away from Repetitive blathering (ADD?), unless, you have psychological issues and love to watch reality television.

    What these news chiefs are doing is out of touch with reality. All news is good news. They need to make it palatable, so folks can gain a more appropriate overview of the situation at present, and, the evolution of it in the future. Impeachment is part of it absolutely, but so is everything else that’s going on, and these things have immediate impact on the quality of every day life.

    The thing that these politicians doing some of the stuff don’t realize, if their nefarious shenanigans don’t work out as they hope, the boomerang effect is going to destroy what they claim to hold dear, which is their idolatry laden worship.

  11. Sheila alludes today to the rather obvious externality that legislative time spent on such silly and/ or unconstitutional bills precludes consideration on bills the legislature should be considering in re infrastructure, the environment etc., bills that address real problems and designed for the common good. When our representatives are talking up religion and marking up ALEC bills, I fail to see how their time spent is representing the people but rather see how their time spend is in representing their campaign contributors. Spending truckloads of taxpayer money, one would think, should not be a fun and games exercise but rather a fact-driven exercise involving spending priorities that address common taxpayer problems (chuckholes, bad air and water etc.) since, after all, taxpayers are paying the bills, and due to legislative irresponsibility are not getting their money’s worth.

    Query: I haven’t been in a WalMart for 14 years so I don’t know; but do they sell pitchforks there?

  12. Republicans are busy preparing for the past because that’s what they believe their base expects of them. Shutdown progress and stop change. Make time stand still or better yet back up. Declare everything in our borders to remain in the previous century when they were entitled.

    Republicans reply to them? Whatever but to do whatever, we need more power which can only come from you.

    Give us enough power and we’ll give you the past.

    Isn’t that really what Hitler promised the Nazi’s too?

  13. Stephen F Smith, you cut to the heart of the problem with your statement:

    But, I do have to ask: Would a psychiatrist who would deny anybody help in any situation be qualified to hold those views and be employed as a licensed psychiatrist?

    There are these people who think all you need to do is pray – Conversion Therapy.

    Per WIKI: the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological or spiritual interventions. All such bans, except for New York City’s (and Washington, D.C.’s pending review), are limited to such therapy for minors.

    There are some states and counties that have banned “Conversion Therapy”. Indiana of course has not banned conversion therapy.

  14. When I became a nurse I knew I was ethically required to treat all patients regardless of who they were or what they had done with the most competent care I could provide.The bill stating clinicians cannot be disciplined due to refusal to treat based on religious grounds is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath “Do no harm”. As a substance use counselor I have treated homophobic and racist people with the same compassionate care that I would of those who are not sick with bigotry. I treated people with felony convictions. What all Christians need to remember is that Jesus healed even the daughter of a Roman, his oppressor. Jesus healed people who were marginalized. It should be the Nursing Board and the Board of Behavioral Health who decides these matters, NOT the state legislature.

  15. Gerald,

    Yeah, they still got’em.

    Didn’t you know? Pitchfork ownership is a prerequisite to being a politician, it’s the best tool in the arsenal for pitching poop!

  16. SB 300 is about legalizing the option to obtain assistance to end your life when a physician has diagnosed you with very little time to live and there are no options left to save your life or to keep you comfortable while your condition deteriorates. Choosing to end your own life rather than continuing to suffer more and more.

  17. John Sorg – You make a good point. I was thinking in terms of peasant uprisings but I can see where such instruments have other uses as well, though not so much with the advent of the horseless carriage.

  18. Our freedom or Republican power. The future or the past. Doable or a dream. Problem solvers or naysayers. Agents of change or stasis. The Constitution or unregulated capitalism.

  19. Indiana 2020 SB 300 was introduced by Sen. Liz Brown (R) District 15 (Ft. Wayne)
    Here is the digest from the website:
    “Conscience protection for mental health providers. Provides that a behavioral health or human services professional (professional) may be not required to: (1) perform; (2) participate in; or (3) provide; a service that violates any sincerely held ethical, moral, or religious belief held by the professional. Provides that a professional may not be required to perform, participate in, or provide, as a condition of: (1) training; (2) employment; (3) pay; (4) promotion; or (5) privileges; a service that violates any sincerely held ethical, moral, or religious belief held by the professional. Prohibits a hospital or other employer from: (1) discriminating against; or (2) disciplining; a professional because of a sincerely held ethical, moral, or religious belief held by the professional. Allows a professional to bring a civil cause of action in certain instances. Specifies certain remedies and requirements. Requires a professional to refer a person who is denied service on ethical, moral, or religious grounds to an alternative professional.
    This person graduated from Notre Dame and had served on Ft. Wayne’s city council.

  20. Last evening, Channel 13 ran a story about the extreme shortage of home health nurses for people who could stay in their homes instead of being placed in an institution, but who need some degree of professional nursing care daily–for instance, help with dressing changes, managing breathing tubes, stomach tubes, changing bladder catheters, and the like, that families aren’t well-equipped to handle. The reason for the shortage is that the pay is so far below scale that most nurses seek better-paying jobs.

    Bob Segal interviewed the Governor, and asked him about the more than 300 million budget surplus, but the governor wasn’t interested in trying to help these people for the current budget. You see, the nursing home industry is big business here in Indiana. In fact, one of the owners of a chain of these facilities was in the State Legislature. The governor didn’t say that was the reason, but IMHO that was the reason. Patients and their families would prefer to stay at home, if safely possible, where they can be in their own bed, surrounded by their loved ones, pets, gardens, home cooking, etc.. This should be encouraged, not just for the sake of the patients and their families, but it costs taxpayers less. However, in Indiana that is simply not a priority.

    Channel 13 ran another story lamenting the fact that Indiana does not provide tax subsidies and other financial incentives for television and film production companies. I assume the reason for the story is to get public sentiment behind tax dollars being used to subsidize such productions.

    I guess it boils down to a matter of priorities, but I doubt that helping the neediest and sickest Hoosiers remain at home instead of in a nursing home, when doing so would cut off funding for the nursing home industry, will never be a priority. I’m guessing that the movie and TV producers stand a better chance of getting our tax dollars.

  21. Background on that would be useful because the question of immoral orders is part of conscience examinations singly. Humans now are marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in terms of those COURT decisions, fines, property freezes and seizures. How do you budget for all Humans in Indiana HOMES, not workplaces so your census counts are complete and each citizen is given those protections of age:age discriminations in those fixation cases? A forced pregnancy in the military ranks may not be common enough for an entire NATO team to do the Christian Business and Banking CALENDAR Census of HUMANS, including Hoosiers. The Capitol is a WORKPLACE, not a bedroom.

  22. The quality of the Indiana legislature does make me sad, but living in Marion County, I do have the privilege of knowing several fine, intelligent public servants who serve our state.

    For all of the “cute” comments about the legislature (or congress) needing to have sessions that are as short as possible so that they are limited in how much harm they do, the logical conclusion to that is no government.

    I have an alternate idea. Despite the number of fine elected public servants that I know, how many more would there be if it was a full time job. Full time legislatures have two serious advantages. First, the members would have the time to concentrate on studying the important issues and crafting serious legislation (yes, I am thinking of the ideal world). Second, we would have a larger pool of potential legislators. How many of us would be able to keep our jobs and disappear for months at a time to sit in session. I couldn’t; I would have no job to go back to.

    I suspect gerrymandering is a major contributor to the problem, but the current structure both deprives us of potential law makers and encourages quick and dirty legislation, either pre-packaged by ALEC, or crafted using simplistic (often bigoted) thinking.

  23. I remember well Harrison Ullman’s statement that Indiana has “the World’s Worst Legislature.” One day, I researched how people from other states and found out pretty much everyone thinks their particular state legislature is “the World’s Worst Legislature.” As much as critics would like to think, the Indiana General Assembly is not a uniquely bad legislature. It’s just like those legislatures in other states.

    I would point out our Indiana General Assembly works a heck of a let better than Congress, which is dysfunctional beyond belief.

  24. Please respect our legislators’ relentless efforts in South Carolina to compete for the title of “worst legislative body anywhere on any subject you can name.” For example, as a result of bribing businesses to come to SC by using tax incentives, no labor unions, and low salaries, the Palmetto State has come up with $1.8 billion in “excess” tax revenue and is agonizing over how to squander it. Although we desperately need better schools, infrastructure improvements, climate change mitigation, etc., we allow our know-nothing governor to make the bulk of these kinds of decisions (not that the legislature would do any better). Ergo, in the belief that if you hand out enough money to enough people they will vote for you, he has decided to award a portion of the $1.8 billion to taxpayers in the form of rebates. He did the same thing 4 months ago, so we know he is serious. Since they share his belief about how to win votes, the legislature supports this move. There is also strong support for using much of the rest to support religious schools in the form of vouchers.

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