Jan 8, 2009

SB 286 -- Cultural Competency in Schools

SYNOPSIS: Cultural competency in schools. Requires the department of education to develop standards for cultural competency teacher training. Requires school corporations and accredited nonpublic schools to develop policies concerning cultural competency training for school staff and students.

OPPOSE: This is a bill that likely won't see the light outside of a committee hearing, if it even is heard by committee members. The bill proposes mandatory multi-cultural training for teachers in order to better serve the diverse needs of all students, including racial minority, low-income, ESL and various religious group students. It further demands the superintendent put a policy in place addressing cultural competency and audits.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Taylor, referred to Committee on Education and Career Development.

SB 026 - Grandparents' Visitation

Synopsis: Grandparent visitation. Provides that a child's grandparent may seek visitation rights when a parent or guardian of the child unreasonably denies or restricts visitation. Eliminates current conditions under which a grandparent may seek visitation rights. Specifies the court in which a grandparent seeking visitation rights may file a petition.

OPPOSE: This bill would strip the rights of the parent to determine for a child what relationship, if any, a child would have with grandparents. Current legislation allows grandparents to petition the courts for visitation in the event the parent dies, divorces or the child is born out of wedlock. This bill proposes the only hurdle is the court finds the parent has unreasonably denied or restricted visitation. Sorry, grandma, but that's Mom's right.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Waterman, with co-authors R. Young and Alting. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

Jan 7, 2009

HB 1041 - Funeral Planning

Synopsis: Funeral planning. Establishes a statutory form for a funeral planning declaration that allows a person to provide instructions concerning the person's funeral arrangements. Provides that the declaration may be used to designate an individual who will make arrangements after the person's death. Provides that a person designated in a funeral planning declaration is first in the priority and that a person designated in a health care power of attorney is second in the priority of individuals who can authorize the cremation of another person's remains and who may authorize the owner of a cemetery to inter, entomb, or inurn the body or cremated remains of a deceased human. Specifies that a person acting as the attorney in fact under a health care power of attorney has the power to execute a funeral planning declaration on behalf of the principal. Provides that a person who relies in good faith on a funeral planning declaration is immune from liability to the same extent as if the person had dealt directly with the declarant and the declarant had been a competent and living person.

SUPPORT/NEUTRAL: While it would seem society has dealt with death long enough for us to figure out whether to bury, burn or freeze Uncle Joe upon his death, the reality is no one wants Uncle Joe to meet Ted Williams' frozen limbo fate while living relatives squabble. Better to provide for the chain of decision-making in such instances to let everyone move on a little faster.

Introduced by the probate code study commission and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

HB 1032 - Wabash River Heritage Corridor

Synopsis: Wabash River heritage corridor commission. Removes the provision that money in the Wabash River heritage corridor commission fund does not revert to the state general fund at the end of a fiscal year. Establishes the Wabash River heritage corridor fund. Deposits proceeds paid for minerals taken from beneath the navigable waters of the state in the Wabash River heritage corridor fund. Makes a technical change.

OPPOSE: When a bill proposes a couple slight word changes and moves to reallocate monies to an unspecified purpose, flags are raised. This tidy piece of legislation suggests we change the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission to the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Fund. It continues to move unspent funds away from the state general fund into the Heritage Fund, to be used by the communities, including unspecified reimbursements of committee members.

According to the statement of economic impact, the General Assembly allocates $91,000/year to the current commission fund. In addition, revenues generates from mining of minerals amounts to nearly $250,000. This amounts to a quarter million dollar slush fund for committee members to dole out.

Status: Authored by Rep. Grubb, co-authored by Rep. Leonard; referred to Committee on Natural Resources.

HB 1027 - Prekindergarten Grant Pilot

Synopsis: Prekindergarten grant pilot program. Provides that the prekindergarten grant pilot program expires in 2016, rather than 2014. Establishes the prekindergarten grant pilot program fund. Provides that the $0.65 portion of the riverboat admissions tax that is currently paid to the state general fund shall instead be paid to the prekindergarten grant pilot program fund. Makes appropriations from the prekindergarten grant pilot program fund for the prekindergarten pilot program.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: You'll love this bill if you favor taxpayer subsidized daycare. Rep. Day remains true to his socialist tendencies with this bill. The unfortunate reality is this could gain real legs without strong immediate vocal opposition. From Governor Daniels through the GOP to the very socialist Democratic wing led by Day, the trend in education is to take over all parental responsibility at the earliest ages possible. Get on the phone about this one!

Status: Authored by Rep. Day; referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 1017 - Maximum Hiring Age for Police

Synopsis: Maximum hiring age for police. Increases the maximum age for appointment as a police officer from 36 to 40 years of age.

OPPOSE/NEUTRAL: It's difficult to oppose something when you disagree with what the bill is attempting to improve. Sure, it's great to move the age up for police hires from 36 to 40, but why is there an artificial age limit to begin with? 50 is the new 30, so Maxim reports. How about hiring and retention decisions based on the ability to perform the duties and remove discriminatory criteria all together?

Rep. V. Smith authored; First reading with Committee on Judiciary.

SB 011 -- Firearms in Locked Vehicles

Synopsis: Firearms in locked vehicles. Prohibits a person (which includes an individual, a corporation, and a governmental entity) from adopting or enforcing a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting an individual from legally possessing a firearm that is locked in the individual's vehicle while the vehicle is in or on the person's property. Excepts possession of a firearm: (1) on school property, on property used by a school for a school function, or on a school bus; (2) on certain child care and shelter facility property; (3) on penal facility property; and (4) in violation of federal law. Provides that a person who, in compliance with the prohibition, does not adopt or enforce such a policy or rule is not liable for resulting injury or damage. Authorizes a civil action for damages, costs, attorney's fees, and injunctive relief to remedy a violation. Deletes an outdated reference.

[ED. - This issue has really pitted private property rights against gun ownership. Some great points have been made on the private property side of this argument. We'll change our position to NEUTRAL.]

SUPPORT: Sen. Nugent starts off the 2009 session with his strong support of gun ownership. In SB 11, Nugent offers that no entity can disallow the lawful ownership and possession of a firearm secured in a private vehicle. If not for efforts like this, gun ownership would be outlawed de facto.

Authored by Senator Nugent; Referred to Committee on Judiciary for first reading.

SB 0015 -- Lobbying by Former Legislators

Synopsis: Lobbying by former legislators. Provides that an individual who has served as a member of the general assembly may not register as a legislative branch lobbyist during the period that ends one year after the date the individual ceases to be a member of the general assembly. Provides that the prohibition applies only to an individual who ceases to be a member of the general assembly after June 30, 2009.

STRONGLY AGREE: Senator Miller kicked off the legislative session with this effort that may have some legs this year, particularly with Republicans trying to gain favor with voters after a rough 2008. A noble first effort, putting limitations on legislator/lobbyists would be a great first step. A truly reform-minded legislative body would quickly move forward with this legislation.

Authored by Senator Miller and sent to Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures. Senators Lubbers, Charbonneau and Lawson signed on as co-authors.

Jan 6, 2009

SB002 -- Internet Safety in Education

Synopsis: Internet safety education in schools. Mandates policies concerning safe Internet usage in all schools. Stipulates reporting requirements for superintendents.

OPPOSE
: This bill proposes more reporting requirements for already overburdened school administrators. Current law provides that a school must have a safe internet policy in place that requires a school corporation include in its curriculum for grades 3 and above. This bill proposes requiring biennial reporting by each superintendent to the State for policy approval. In turn, the state superintendent will compile and report a summary of these individual reports to a legislative committee. In a day and time where legislators don't read the bills up for consideration, requiring administrators jump through these additional hoops for no purpose is pointless. Let school boards manage their administrators and set guidelines for their own schools.

Introduced by Senator Arnold and referred to Committee on Education and Career Development.
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