On Monday January 20th, the City of Bloomington’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration was held to honor and uphold the legacy of the famed activist. The keynote speaker for the Celebration was Freedom Rider Hank Thomas, who spoke on “A Freedom Rider’s Journey.” A Nineteen-year-old Hank Thomas joined the 1961 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Freedom Ride. Thomas overcame an impoverished childhood in southern Georgia to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he was active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC.) This event was recorded on location at the Buskirk Chumley Theater by Community Access Television Services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
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State legislators representing the Monroe County area gave their views on more than a dozen pieces of proposed legislation at a forum last Saturday.
The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County, which holds monthly legislative updates when the state legislature is in session.
State Senator Mark Stoops, as well as representatives Bob Heaton, Peggy Mayfield, Matt Pierce, and Eric Koch participated. The group was asked first about HJR-3, the measure to ban same-sex marriage in the Indiana Constitution. The question came from Bloomington resident Trish Kerle, who is also a host on the WFHB program Interchange.
“It is illegal to destroy a gun in Indiana, but it’s not illegal to limit a woman’s right to choose, nor to limit the rights of two adults to marry if they are the same gender,” Kerle said, “My question is to the representatives who voted in favor of HJR-3. What specific evidence do you have that my marriage to my partner will be detrimental to you or any of your constituents?”
Like many other issues, the support for the marriage amendment broke down along party lines.
The three Republicans — Heaton, Mayfield and Koch — all voted for the amendment. Heaton said he only wants to give voters the chance to decide on the issue in a referendum, which is required before an amendment can pass.
“As far as with you and your partner, I don’t care what two individuals do in their home,” Heaton said, “I’m being consistent with my message in that I will let the people to vote for it, or not, come this fall.”
Kerle tried to press Heaton further, because he didn’t provide the evidence she asked for, but the moderator stopped her.
Koch and Mayfield also declined to answer the question, saying it didn’t apply to the current debate over HJR-3.
“This question is not what the debate surrounding HJR-3 is about,” Koch said, “We’ve had a definition of marriage since the 80’s, that’s current law. The discussion surrounding HJR-3 is whether the people of Indiana should be able to use a mechanism given to them in their constitution to prevent that law from being overturned by the judicial branch, by unelected judges. So, the policy has been in place since the 1980’s, and that’s not what this discussion is about.”
Mayfield added that the process the amendment is going through is the topic of the discussion, not its merits or lacktherof.
The marriage amendment has passed the House of Representatives, but a portion of the text was removed. Unless the Senate changes the language back to its original form, the measure won’t be on the ballot next year.
The legislators were also asked about a bill that would require drug testing for people receiving benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Pierce opposed the bill, and he said similar measures in other states have been expensive and have led to very little discovered drug use.
“The saddest thing for me, is that I think the bill is based on an attempt to drum up the worst stereotypes people have about those on public assistance,” Pierce said, “Most people on public assistance are working hard, and they are the exact people my Republican friends like because they are out working hard and not just waiting for a hand-out. They are trying to get ahead.”
Heaton defended his support for the bill, saying he recently surveyed his constituents about the issue.
“The question was, ‘Do you believe Indiana, like some other states, should submit random drug testing as a requirement in receiving government assistance,” Heaton said, “81 percent said yes, and I know you don’t like to hear that, but that’s just who I represent and who I vote on behalf of.”
Karen Green-Stone, from Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, asked the group about Medicaid expansion. So far Indiana has declined federal funding offered through the Affordable Care Act, which would expand Medicaid coverage to approximately 350,000 people who have incomes too low to afford insurance through the federal exchange. Stoops said the state loses millions of dollars a day by refusing the expansion.
“In a state where we have high unemployment rates still, we are actually turning our back on 30,000 healthcare and other related jobs that this Medicaid expansion would have brought to Indiana,” Stoops said.
Mayfield did not say she was opposed to Medicaid expansion, but she said she supported Governor Mike Pence’s delay in accepting the funding.
“Governor Pence made that decision early on and I think that he has a cautious approach,” Mayfield said, “I think that there is something between the broad expansion of Medicaid and maybe a more limited expansion using just HIP, and honestly I think that’s what they’re investigating and I think they need to continue that.”
HIP is the Healthy Indiana Plan, which provides subsidies for some low-income residents to buy private insurance. There is a long waiting list for the program, but Pence has proposed expanding it to cover more people.
Pierce said there are problems with that approach, but he is willing to negotiate with conservatives on the issue.
“I said I think that there are a lot of politics involved with this is because it’s an Obama program and a lot of voters don’t like Obama or the program,” Pierce said, “I think that the Governor knows that something needs to change in order to get this done. I expect something will happen before the end of the year, which is unfortunate because people won’t have coverage. It’s not tenable to be an island of the uninsured.”
The next legislative update sponsored by the League of Women Voters is scheduled for March 1 at 9:30 a.m, in the Bloomington City Council chambers.
On Saturday November 23rd The Brown County Democratic Party invited the public to join a brown bag lunch session with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Director and Founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan Rob Stone, M.D. The event was free to the public, and included a question and answer period. Part 1 focused on Education and Part 2 explores Health issues here in the Hoosier State. This event was recorded on location at The Seasons Lodge Conference Center in Brown County by Community Access Television services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
On Saturday November 23rd The Brown County Democratic Party invited the public to join a brown bag lunch session with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the Director and Founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan Rob Stone, M.D. The event was free to the public, and included a question and answer period. Part 1 focuses on Education and Part 2 on Health here in the Hoosier State. This event was recorded on location at The Seasons Lodge Conference Center in Brown County by Community Access Television services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
Standing Room Only – Komozi Woodard:Roots of the Trayvon Martin Case: Violent Whiteness and Black Resistance
Drawing on his research into the 1970s Stop Killer Cop Campaigns and the 1980s National Black United Front, Komozi Woodard will connect the dots of resistance to violent whiteness yesterday, today and tomorrow. Komozi Woodard is the author of A Nation Within a Nation and editor of the The Black Power Movement, Part I as well as other things. Woodard spoke at the Neal Marshall Centers Bridgewater lounge on October 21st 2013, For Standing room only, on WFHB.
In honor of Howard Zinn scholars and activists from across the country took part in a read-in of Zinn’s work on campuses across the nation On Tuesday, Nov. 5, The read-in was organized by members of the IU-Bloomington Progressive Faculty and Staff Caucus. Speakers include Prof. Alex Lichtenstein, Purnima Bose, Sarah Knott, Stepanka Korytova, Isabel Piedmont-Smith. This event was recorded on location in the School of Fine Arts building on the IU-Bloomington campus by Alycin Bektesh for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
On Thursday, October 17th Former Congressman Lee Hamilton discussed the prospect of diplomacy with Iran. Lee H. Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. From 1965 to 1999 he served Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives, where his chairmanships included the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. The event was open to the public and included a Question and Answer period. This event was recorded on location at the Monroe County Public Library by Community Access Television Services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
On Tuesday, October First The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce presented an educational forum. The forum was open to the public and featured audience discussions. Speakers included Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s State Superintendent and Jeb Conrad, President of The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. This event was recorded on Location at Deer Park Manor by Community Access Television Services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
By Joe Crawford
Proponents of a major recycling operation vowed to keep fighting for the project after it was voted down a second time on a technicality. The Monroe County Solid Waste Management District’s Board of Directors called an emergency meeting August 15th to effectively redo a vote on a materials recovery facility, also known as a MRF. The previous vote at a meeting August 8th produced confusion and frustration when several Board members either didn’t show up for the meeting or needed to leave early. In the end, only three of the Board’s seven members voted for a budget that specifically excluded $60,000 to investigate the viability of a MRF.
But, as Board President Steve Volan explained, attorneys for the District later decided those three members successfully passed their version of the budget. One of those three members, Cheryl Munson, made a motion August 15th to effectively reverse her previous vote. The motion was to approve a version of the budget that includes money for a MRF, which would allow the District to process and sell its own recyclables. The two main opponents of the MRF were Board members Patrick Stoffers and Iris Kiesling, who are also both County commissioners. Kiesling said she opposed spending money on the project partly because the District is on track to run a deficit next year. Members of the public and the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee spoke in favor of the MRF. Committee member Stephen Hale said the facility could give the District an opportunity to make more money on its recyclables.
When the Board voted on the motion to include the MRF in next year’s budget, three of the five members present approved. Volan, Munson and Julie Thomas voted for the MRF. But another technicality worked to help the opposition. Because this was a vote to amend a budget that had already been approved, attorneys said this time a majority of the full Board – or four members – was needed. Without enough votes to support the MRF, Volan said he planned to force another vote on the subject as soon as all seven members could attend a meeting. Volan said the two absent members, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and Ellettsville Town Council member Dan Swafford, were absent for health reasons.
IU Law Professor Fred Cate is taking a stand against a court order that allowed the government to collect telephone data from Verizon Communications. Professor Fred Cate, along with a group of other law experts, filed an amicus brief curiae The brief supports of a motion to strike down the order, which came out of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. While some argue this is a violation of privacy, Cate’s argument is focused more on the order being a violation of the law itself—more specifically, the Fourth Amendment. Cate says this sends a message that there’s no protection from the government obtaining information from citizens. He says this is a problem because the Fourth Amendment was specifically designed to limit government access to data like this. In addition, he thinks people are misguided when they argue the government needs access to this kind of information.