Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guide to the 2012 Legislative Session

Indiana's 2012 Legislative Session


Welcome to the 6th edition of FV Indiana's Guide to the Legislative Session. This year brings a "short session" with the session that begins today, January 4, 2012 ending no later than March 14, 2012. This year the General Assembly will take a short break February 2nd -7th, because the Super Bowl held in Indianapolis will limit access to hotel rooms for out of town legislators. This session provides many opportunities for families to be involved, share your experience, and build relationships with legislators that will impact current and future decisions. This guide is intended to be a reference issue; in it you will find information on how a bill becomes a law, definitions and translations of acronyms, and information on the House and Senate leadership. We encourage you to contact your legislator, make the effort to introduce yourself, share your perspective and continue to build a relationship. Watch FV Indiana and other sources for action alerts as the session progresses. If you have information about the session to share please contact fv.indiana@gmail.com


Hot Topics for 2012


Family Voices, as a member of Indiana’s Early Childhood Comprehensive System, Sunny Start, was involved in the creation of the 2011, State of the Young Hoosier Child Report. This report outlines key issues facing Indiana children and families. You can view the full report and county data sheets online at: http://www.in.gov/isdh/25192.htm. We encourage you to share this report with your Representatives, as a conversation starter about the issues that impact your family.


Medicaid Waivers


The 2011 session tasked DDRS with reviewing Indiana’s Medicaid Waiver system after the session. During the summer, the Medicaid Oversight Committee has been studying the proposed changes to the Medicaid waiver program originally included in HEA 1001:

~Calculating budget neutrality on an individual basis

~Instituting a family care program

~ Evaluating placement options

~Requiring cost participation for families whose income exceeded 500% of the federal poverty level.


Shane Spotts, Deputy Director of DDRS, will be sharing a draft report outlining potential changes with FSSA Secretary, Michael Gargano, and then it will be released to the public for further comment. Families will need to continue to engage with their legislators about how changes to the Medicaid waiver program would impact them.


How a Bill Becomes Law


Legislation 101


Any legislator in either chamber (House or Senate) can initiate a bill on any matter. The Indiana Constitution provides that all appropriations and revenue-raising bills MUST originate in the House. To introduce a bill, a member files it with the Clerk. The bill is first read to the chamber, at which time each member has a printed copy to study. After the first reading, the bill is assigned to a committee. On the next legislative day, the bill is read for the second time so it will be ready for action when it comes out of the committee. Much of the "work" on a bill comes in the committee. Members of key committees, and particularly committee chairs, can be very influential in modifying the language of a proposed bill and determining whether or not it advances to a vote by the full house. Amendments (changes in the original bill) or even complete bill substitutions may be offered by the committee that studies the bill or by a member from the floor. Sometimes there may be several versions of one bill before the committee can agree. If a committee reports favorably on a bill (a majority of the committee votes for it), it is returned to the full house for a third reading and possibly further debate. Most bills passed out of committee are passed by the full house, but they may be altered, sometimes dramatically, or perhaps not voted upon at all.


Parliamentary maneuvers are sometimes very confusing to spectators, but these rules help to maintain order. Sometimes a bill's opponents can use parliamentary procedures to block a vote on a bill they cannot defeat or amend to their liking. Assuming that a bill survives such parliamentary maneuvers, the vote is taken. If a measure receives a majority of votes, it is passed and sent to the other chamber for consideration and goes through the whole process again. The second chamber can amend the bill, pass it as is or defeat it. If the legislation is amended, it is returned for consideration by the originating chamber. When the House and Senate disagree about amended portions, the presiding officers of each body appoint members to a conference committee which tries to find an acceptable compromise which must be approved in identical form by a majority of both houses. If the second chamber passes the bill without any changes, it is sent to the Governor, who can sign it or veto it. If he signs it, it becomes law; if he vetoes it, the bill "dies" and would have to be reintroduced another year unless the veto is overridden by the legislature, which is rare.


All bills vetoed by the Governor are sent back to the presiding officer of the house of the General Assembly where it originated with a list of reasons for the veto. The Governor's veto can be overridden by two-thirds of the votes in each house. When this happens, the bill becomes law. All bills introduced in the current session, as well as their current status in the process and any amendments, can be viewed on the state website at http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/


Take Action!


Advocacy Questions and Answers


How can I take action on legislation?


1. Form a relationship with your Representatives and Senators by calling, emailing, faxing, and scheduling meetings to tell them about how their decisions on the budget and laws affect the quality of life for you and your family.

2. Consider focusing your efforts on key issues such as the Medicaid services, ensuring that any plans for K-12 supports inclusive education practices, or First Steps issues.


How can I contact my state representative or senator?

Every member has an email address and an office phone number at the statehouse. The most effective ways to communicate are by personal contacts: emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Legislators prefer to hear from their own constituents directly and may not pay attention to mass emails or form letters, especially from people outside their districts. Many legislators even invite constituents with concerns to contact them at home or via cell phone. Information about legislators is available on the state website at http://www.in.gov/apps/sos/legislator/search/


You can mail and phone your legislators at the following:


House of Representatives

Indiana House of Representatives

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786

(317) 232-9600

(800) 382-9842


Senate

Indiana State Senate

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785

(317) 232-9400

(800) 382-9467

TDD Telephone Numbers

TDD (317) 232-0404

TDD (800) 548-9517


The Governor

The Honorable Mitch Daniels

Office of the Governor

Statehouse

Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797

(317)232-4567


How do I contact other state agencies?


The State of Indiana website is found at: www.in.gov and contains links to all state as well as many federal and local web resources. Many State Agencies and programs have email newsletters that you can sign up for on their Website; these are a great way to get up to date information about the agency.


When is the General Assembly in session?

The 2012 General Assembly convened on Jan. 4th and is scheduled to end no later than March 14th.


Stay Informed


Groups that provide legislative updates and Action Alerts

Family Voices Indiana

www.fvindiana.org

http://fvindiana.blogspot.com

The Arc of Indiana

http://www.arcind.org/legislative_information_page.htm

Information on the Arc's legislative agenda and general legislative information including link to sign up for action alerts.

Indiana Government

http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2011&session=1&request=all

Session information including Bill Watch (information on bills, votes, resolutions, etc.).

Indiana General Assembly

http://www.ai.org/legislative/index.html

Indiana General Assembly website.

Indiana PTA


http://www.indianapta.org/LegAlert.html

State and national legislative information from Indiana PTA.

Indiana DOE


http://www.doe.in.gov/puttingstudentsfirst/

Legislative agenda by the Indiana Department of Education.


Glossary


Become familiar with these commonly used acronyms


Appropriation: a specific amount of money that is intended for use by a specific state program

FSSA: Family and Social Services Administration (in charge of Medicaid & First Steps)

DD: Developmental Disabilities

DOE: Department of Education

FY: Fiscal Year

HB: House Bill

HR: House Resolution

SB: Senate Bill

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