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first_img IBLC OUTLINES AGGRESSIVE 2017 AGENDA FOCUSING ON BIAS CRIMES, COURTS, PRECINCT CONSOLIDATION, BUDGETINDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) today outlined an aggressive agenda for the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly that will focus on bias crimes, Marion County courts, Lake County precinct consolidation, and passage of a biennial state budget that addresses concerns about education, criminal justice reform, and health issues.“As this session begins to pick up steam, the IBLC wants to make sure that our priorities are addressed in a timely fashion to reflect the concerns that have been expressed to our members by minority communities across this state,” said IBLC Chair, State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis), who noted that the caucus conducted town halls across Indiana last year that gave residents a chance to provide feedback on issues of interest to them. “We believe these goals are easily achievable before we finish our work by the end of April.”IBLC members have filed three bills (House Bill 1066 and Senate Bills 333 and 336) that seek to place a bias crime law in state statutes, and enhance penalties against those who commit such crimes.“There is ample evidence to indicate that bias motivated crimes do take place with greater frequency in Indiana, and there is a specific need to demonstrate that these actions will be met with harsh penalties,” Pryor said. “The legislation filed by IBLC members offers the opportunity to pursue criminal and civil penalties against offenders, encourage greater collection and study of bias crimes, and seek to give law enforcement officers the training necessary to be better able to respond to these offenses.”Pryor said the IBLC will work against a series of proposals (House Bill 1036 and Senate Bills 79 and 568) that seek to radically change the methods of selection of Superior Court judges in Marion County.“In the wake of a recent federal court ruling, we now are facing measures – offered under the guise of ‘reform’ – that could effectively prevent minorities from being selected to serve in the Marion County judiciary,” Pryor said. “Past experience has dictated that it is wise to cast a wary eye upon such proposals that disenfranchise voters. Rest assured that the IBLC will vigorously oppose these bills throughout the session, and continue to educate the general public about the injustices that are being attempted here. I have yet to hear a good reason why Marion County should not directly elect their judges. Only Allen, Lake, St. Joseph, Vandenberg and Marion County are denied a direct path to elect their judges. These counties not only have a large number of minorities, they also have a large number of Democrats living in them.”Similar concerns about disenfranchisement were expressed about House Bill 1147, which State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) said attempts to drastically revise voting precincts in Lake County.“Here we have yet another effort at ‘reform’ which is not so thinly veiled in its effort to deny and repress minority voting in Lake County,” Brown said. “There is no need to do something that will make it more difficult for people to cast a ballot, particularly at a time when Indiana has one of the worst voter participation percentages in the country. We need to be finding ways to encourage people to get out and vote, not deny them that right.”Pryor also outlined a series of priorities for the biennial state budget that must be passed this session. Those include expansion of pre-K, proper funding for K-12 (particularly in urban public schools), and increased funding for remediation, bilingual education, minority health programs, and initiatives that encourage more minorities to get into teaching as a career.“We are disturbed that recent budgets seem to place a higher priority on experimentation like vouchers and charter schools, rather than working to support our public schools, which do not have the ability to pick and choose who they get to educate, but find themselves having to perform so many difficult tasks with less support,” said. “They need a voice in the Statehouse and we will provide it for them.”FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more