Friday, April 15, 2011
In an effort to share with you what I am doing, and saying, I have drafted three slightly different letters which I am emailing to my Senator, all Senators on the Committee, and all members of the Senate. I can't post them all here, but I will post the body of the letter to My Senator at the bottom of this update. I have made it generic so, if you agree with what it says, you will only need to copy and paste it to your email, add names where appropriate and your name and address, then send it on. If you do not agree, please don't feel like I am pressuring you to use my words. If you like some of it, but not all, please feel free to use what you like and discard the rest. Please feel free to share this with anyone who wants to speak up against a bill that has been advertised as "providing school choice to all students", yet does not require private schools receiving State tax money to comply with the ADA, thus preventing children with disabilities from being able to choose those schools. A list of the Republican Senators can be found by clicking on this link, and a list of Democratic Senators can be found by clicking on this link. Both of those sites include a function to find your Senator, if you are unsure of who it is. Click here to find a list of the Senators who serve on the Education and Career Development Committee.
If you are curious about the validity of this, all you need to do is compare the version of HB 1003 that passed the House of Representatives, which did include the requirement that all private schools accepting vouchers be ADA compliant, with the latest version of HB 1003 that passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. You can make that comparison by going to the www.in.gov/legislative website, look up "Bills & Resolutions" on the left side of the page and then click on "Complete Information for all Bills". Once at this site, scroll down to House Bill 1003 and click on it. Once there, you can click on the House Bill toward the bottom of the page and compare it to what is listed as the "Latest Printing" which is what passed out of the Senate Committee.
In addition to phone calls & e-mails, people should seek out opportunities for face-to-face meetings with legislators. These face to face meetings can occur if citizens come to the State House and are willing to wait to talk with their Senator or they can occur at "Third House" meetings that are typically held on Saturday mornings within the legislative district. Each district has its own place and time for these Third House meetings, so it is difficult to tell you exactly when, where or if one is scheduled for this Saturday in each district.
Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who would be disturbed to hear that our State Legislature is about to pass a bill that, while intended to help some people, discriminates against children with disabilities and violates our State Constitution to help what is a relatively small number of students across the State go to private school. (If your not sure what I'm talking about, be sure to read the previous update titled "My Day at the Statehouse".) Here is the letter, again, feel free to copy and paste into an email:
Dear Senator [name],
Regarding HB 1003, by allowing tax dollars that are meant to serve the Public Schools in our communities to be given in voucher form to qualifying parents to send their children to private, most likely religious, schools this bill violates the Indiana Constitution. The Indiana Constitution states “no money shall be drawn from the treasury to benefit any religious or theological institution.” I don’t care what loop hole has been found to get around this. The meaning of those words, and the spirit in which they were written, is clear. HB 1003 clearly allows public tax money to be given to religious and theological institutions. You were not elected to violate the Constitution.
The Senate Education and Career Development Committee has added insult to injury by removing the ADA language from this bill, which would require any school receiving vouchers for state tax money to be ADA compliant; HB 1003 creates a system that allows discrimination against children with disabilities. This bill has been advertised on local television as “giving school choice to all children in Indiana”, yet it does not enforce the Private schools receiving my tax money to be accessible to all children. How can you, an elected representative of The People, allow such a thing to happen?
As my State Senator, the voice elected to represent me in our Senate, I am directing you to vote down this bill. Speaking as one of The People I want you to know, I have friends all over this state with vastly different political and social views, and none of us are happy with the way Laws are being made at our Statehouse. Our State Legislature was not elected to waste our tax money on legislation that violates our Constitution and discriminates against a protected class of people. We are the silent majority that you rarely hear from and we are watching what you are doing. If you vote to support this bill then you prove that our State Legislature no longer works for The People. Do the job you were elected to do, and vote this bill down.