January 20, 2012

Indiana Catholic Conference priority bills during the 2012 legislative session

Following are some of the Indiana Catholic Conference’s (ICC) priority bills for 2012.

Human trafficking—Senate Bill 4.

The proposed legislation increases the penalties and expands the definition of human trafficking beyond the current definition to include participating in sexual conduct—in addition to prostitution. It also adds a special category for children under 16. The effort is to enact the law prior to the Super Bowl since this type of activity has been known to have taken place at other Super Bowl venues (see related story).

Abortion-inducing drugs—House Bill 1214 and Senate Bill 282.

The bills attempt to regulate drugs such as RU 486. Surgical abortion is currently regulated to ensure the safety of the women, and to ensure that they know the consequences and risks of their decision. However, there are no regulations governing abortion providers who dispense these drugs. In some instances, this can be done without even an examination.

Health care profession, conscience clause—House Bill 1014.

It provides that a health care professional may not be required to dispense a drug or medical device if the health care professional believes the drug or medical device would be used to (1) cause an abortion; (2) destroy an unborn child; or (3) cause the death of a person by means of assisted suicide, euthanasia or mercy killing.

Child and dependent tax credit—House Bill 1143.

The bill, authored by Catholic lawmaker Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis, would provide a state tax credit for families with child and dependent care expense. It would allow 50 percent of the federal tax credit. The program would provide real support to working families struggling to meet its other obligations. The bill limits eligibility to families with adjusted gross income below $45,000.

Food stamp assistance after drug conviction—Senate Bill 102.

The bill, authored by Catholic lawmaker Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, would remove the prohibition of persons convicted of a drug offense from receiving food stamps. The bill would grant eligibility to those who have not been convicted of another drug offense in the previous five years before applying for food stamps to receive food stamps.

School voucher program eligibility expansion—Senate Bill 198.

It would provide eligibility to all who are income eligible. It would make current Catholic school families eligible as well.

Senate Bill 331 would provide eligibility for older siblings in families who receive a voucher.

Currently, an older student already in the non-public school is not eligible for assistance even though the younger child is.

Scholarship tax credit eligibility expansion—Senate Bill 296.

It would expand eligibility for the program to all students in grade eight currently enrolled in a non-public school. Present law prohibits current non-public students, not previously receiving a scholarship tax credit scholarship, from being eligible. †

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