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Date: 4/30/2023
Subject: The Voter May 2023
From: League of Women Voters - Bloomington-Monroe County

An update for League friends and subscribers.
May 2023

Asian American Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and
Jewish American Heritage Months
On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month. The announcement was the crowning achievement in an effort by the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders that resulted in resolutions introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania urging the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006.
Photo by David Holifield on Unsplash
Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.  In 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 (PDF, 285kb) which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Events and News Sources

LWV-BMC Public Events
No events on calendar
Other Public Events


Mayoral Forum Offers Candidate Views
On April 3, all three candidates for mayor of Bloomington participated in a League-hosted forum. Laura Rusk, LWV student member and JD Candidate at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, moderated the event, which was held at the Performance Center at Tri-North Middle School. Kerry Thomson, Susan Sandberg, and Don Griffin, Jr., responded to questions from the 60-plus people in attendance. Topics ranged from working with people who have differences of opinion, to healthcare access, to dealing with racial and gender-based violence.

The forum was co-sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Bloomington Alumnae Chapter; IU PACE (Political and Civic Engagement); Kappa Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Monroe County NOW; NAACP Monroe County; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Indiana Chapter; South Central Indiana Citizens’ Climate Lobby; and Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington.

CATS recorded the forum. This recording, and all the others of which we have been informed, are linked from the LWV-BMC Candidate Forums page. - Ralf Shaw
Photo of Laura Rusk at right by Ralf Shaw

Act to Support Nature’s Vacuum Cleaner—Our Forests!
Trees currently pull about 12% of America’s carbon pollution out of the air each year. If we protect, expand, and manage our forests, they could remove up to 22% by 2030. Over 90% of Americans support sustainable forestry practices, and as Congress works on this year’s Farm Bill, we need to let them know about this support.

By asking our members of Congress to protect climate-smart forestry funding, we are asking them to leave in place the money that has already been allocated to these programs in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. You can learn more here about these programs.

You can take quick action here, using our partner Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s platform, or you can contact your members of Congress directly at Rep. Erin Houchin, Sen. Todd Young, and Sen. Mike Braun.  Let them know that you’re writing about the Farm Bill and are asking them to help protect the forestry funding that was allocated in the last Congress, in order to help mitigate the harm caused by excessive carbon in the atmosphere. -  Kristina Lindborg

Photo by Kristina Lindborg

Co-owners of Birthing Center Discuss Local Birthing Care
In our April podcast, Jim Allison talked to Julie Duhon (photo right) and Haddie Katz (photo left), co-founders of the Tandem Community Birth Center and Postpartum House, which recently opened in Bloomington. Tandem offers birthing services, preconception support, and prenatal and post-natal care. Lactation care is also provided as are gynecological services to all women of all ages. Together they talked about maternal health in Indiana and Bloomington. Indiana currently ranks 46th out of the 50 states for maternal health, and in Bloomington only 20.6% of women receive adequate early prenatal care. 
One issue with Indiana, say Katz and Duhon, is the significant rural population that does not have this type of care and for whom the closure of rural hospitals has resulted in a lack of access to care. The lack of transportation, says Katz, is also a major hurdle to maternal health care. Click here to access the podcast webpage. - Becky Hill
Photos used with permission

April Legislative Update Takes Final Look at 2023 GA Session
Senator Shelli Yoder and Representative Matt Pierce participated in the Legislative Update on Saturday, April 15. Representative Pierce noted that when bills go to conference, the conference committee consists of one representative and one senator from each party. If the conferees cannot agree, the majority party can remove and replace one or more of the committee members. So if you see a conference report signed by all Republicans, you can assume that there were insurmountable objections from the Democrats who were initially appointed. Questions remain about how mental health will be funded, and the future of bills on healthcare and utilities. The revenue forecast later this month will have an impact on what legislators will choose to fund. 
Senator Yoder thanked Representative Pierce for his measured, effective, and committed approach to representing his district. She discussed developments with HB 1499, which would change the food and beverage tax. This has implications for Monroe County’s planned convention center expansion. Her reading shows that the new version would actually reduce the state’s guardrails on how local governments spend the funds. She is also concerned about HB 1420, which deals with whether transmission companies or investor-owned utilities will control construction of new transmission lines. Utilities are asking for union support, but without any guarantee that the jobs created would go to union workers.

The legislators responded to 12 questions from attendees. Topics covered included: election reform to have open primaries with ranked choice voting in general elections; SB 414 and wetlands protection; READI (Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative) grants and the IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corporation); HB 1334 limiting mail-in ballots; options for reducing the cost of health care in Indiana; SB 391 increasing funding for charter schools; the long term outlook for public schools; efforts to change the language required for school funding referenda on ballots; HB 1608 on Pre-K-third grade instruction on human sexuality and on charter school oversight and accountability; HB 1620 on partisan school board elections; coal ash disposal; and collaboration with other legislators.

Representative Pierce concluded by noting that the proposal to defund the Kinsey Institute has not died because no one wants to risk being challenged on the issue during a primary; Pierce thinks it may disappear in conference. Senator Yoder was pleased to report two bills that have made it through third reading: SB 252 on long-acting reversible contraceptives and HB 1568 allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives.

Find up-to-date information on these and other bills hereLegislative Updates are co-sponsored by the Leagues of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County and Brown County and the Chambers of Commerce of Bloomington and Brown County. This was the final update for the 2023 session of the General Assembly. You can see the CATS recordings of the updates here. - Ralf Shaw

Take Local Action: Sign Up for “Zero in Bloomington”
You can help chart a path to Bloomington’s zero carbon future by joining the city’s  Zero in Bloomington program.  Just complete an easy-to-use energy usage profile, choose from locally customized recommendations of actions to take to reduce your carbon footprint, and then track your progress.  As you complete various action items, your dashboard will reflect your emissions reductions, and you can also view an estimate of how much money you may save by completing each action. - Kristina Lindborg