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Indiana Democrats call for special session, no-excuse absentee voting

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Posted at 10:03 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 12:12:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to enact new legislation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the push for racial justice.

They held a press conference Tuesday morning, pushing for the following initiatives.

No-excuse absentee voting

Indiana is one of only a handful of states that hasn’t allowed no-excuse absentee voting for the November election.

"And as Indiana now sees rising daily cases of COVID-19, we are almost assured that the pandemic will be nowhere close to being over in November,” Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said. “Hoosiers deserve to have safe options to exercise their constitutional right to vote while staying safe during this pandemic. These issues demand immediate solutions and immediate legislation."

They also called for allowing the collection of absentee ballots up to 6 p.m. on Election Day.

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus justice reform

The IBLC released an agenda after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, but no statewide action has been taken. The IBLC’s agenda includes banning chokeholds, banning racial profiling and banning no-knock warrants.

"The violence against Black and brown Hoosiers is blatantly clear," Lanane said. "Yet all we hear is silence from the governor's office on the IBLC's clear list of immediate solutions. How does this show residents of our state that Black lives actually matter?"

Legislative oversight of federal CARES Act funds

Much of the federal CARES Act money distributed to the state of Indiana by the federal government hasn’t been spent by Holcomb’s administration. House and Senate Democrats want to use it on the following initiatives:

  • Enhancing state contact tracing & testing program
  • Bolstering housing assistance program
  • Expanding Small Business Restart Fund
  • Increasing assistance for Hoosiers who have lost employer-based health insurance
  • Expanding paid family & medical leave to cover employees exempt from the federal law

"Right now, the decisions that affect all Hoosiers are being made by a group of eight, unelected individuals who are meeting behind closed doors,” Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said. “Not one member of the legislature has been included in these vital conversations, and that's simply irresponsible. Indiana has $2 billion in unspent CARES Act monies remaining as more Hoosiers are experiencing unemployment, getting behind on bills and living without sufficient medical insurance than ever before. With the proper oversight, we could be making major improvements with these largely untapped funds.”

Watch the full press conference below: