Inflation and global gas prices have hit Hoosier families hard and the Republican party has provided no plan to help combat the impact. In May of 2022, Indiana Democrats called on Gov. Holcomb and the Indiana General Assembly to suspend the gas tax temporarily while prices climbed, but Republicans did nothing while it increased. When called into the emergency session in July of 2022 to specifically address relief for families, I went to Indianapolis to help Hoosiers at home and at the pump. Unbelievably, Indiana Republicans refused to help our families and instead spent the vast majority of the special session only focused on taking away the basic human rights of women to control their bodies. As your state senator, I will continue to push for relief at the pump while ensuring we are not bleeding our infrastructure revenue and always fight for Hoosier families to ensure they get the support they need during these trying times.
As of July 1st, 2022 Indiana no longer requires a handgun permit to legally carry, conceal or transport a gun within the state. This is a detrimental move our state has made that’ll affect our police force and communities. In doing so, Indiana Republicans have repealed bare minimum regulations on our state gun laws despite vocal objections of countless responsible gun owners and a full consensus of law enforcement agencies. This legislation will make it easier for those illegally carrying weapons to do so without interference from police and will undoubtedly lead to more gun related deaths in our streets. These terrible legislative changes are rooted in extreme far-right and gun industry interests and directly conflict with the views of the vast majority of everyday Hoosiers. We cannot be led by elected officials too afraid to stand with public safety, responsible gun owners, and the majority of Hoosiers and stand up for common sense legislation. I am running to stand up for common sense regulation and to stop gun violence.
In addition to gerrymandering districts to preserve power, Indiana Republicans have been pushing methods to make it harder and harder for working class Hoosiers to vote. Some Republicans have been pushing for restricting or even abolishing early voting and absentee ballots. These are wildly popular methods of voting for hard working Hoosiers, retirees, enlisted service men and women, and countless others who may not have the easiest way to access a voting booth on Election Day. Participating in fair elections through voting is the most essential element in upholding our democracy. I plan to fight to ensure that we only strength our ability and access to voting.
Indiana went into the 2022-2023 school year with a record high number of teacher vacancies at over 3,000 missing teachers from the profession. This will cause larger classroom sizes and the possibility of students being left with long-term substitute teachers who don’t have the qualifications to teach. The reasons for these vacancies are no mystery. In addition to being terribly underpaid, Indiana Republicans refuse to allow teachers in Indiana to bargain for basic classroom needs and standards and have attacked teachers’ ability to teach by pushing political witch hunt legislation. The impact of the loss of quality and trained teachers from the profession will likely be detrimental to an entire generation of children. Teachers are one of the most essential parts of a society working class families. Restoring respect and dignity to the profession and appropriately funding our education system are my top priorities in the Senate.
Indiana now spends roughly 17% less on public education than it did a decade ago. I, like most Hoosiers, am tired of seeing our education system consistently rank near the bottom and, consequently, our economy and wages suffer due to an under-educated and unprepared workforce. It’s beyond time to really invest in our future and that starts with our schools.
As a Right to Work For Less state, Indiana legislators have made it clear that our labor force is not a priority. Stagnant compensation rates and wages have taken a backseat to socially conservative legislation aimed at hurting unions and discriminating against our fellow Hoosiers under the guise of "job creation" and religious freedom. We need a legislator that our unions can trust to always have their backs and to bring the real issues into focus.
As the first ever Latino member of the Indiana Senate, I understand the value of having a voice in the room where important decisions are made. I am honored and humbled to be that voice for Latino Hoosiers, and I have joined members of my Caucus in calling for the passage of hate crimes legislation to protect Hoosiers from discrimination of all kinds.
For the first time in our history, Hoosier privacy and civil rights are being repealed, particularly women’s reproductive rights. In addition to being an unconscionable infringement of women’s bodily autonomy, Indiana is simply not a “pro-life” state. Far-right extremists' agenda for “Right To Life” isn’t about saving lives, but having control over women’s bodies. Indiana ranks 3rd highest in maternal mortality in the nation and Indiana Republicans were warned multiple times by experts in nearly every relevant field that passing SB1 would be detrimental to Hoosiers. That includes medical and mental health experts, social service providers, business leaders, economists, and many more. The far right special interests have already signaled that they will push farther into banning exceptions for rape and incest and even restrict or ban contraception. It also opens the door up for marriage equality and countless other privacy rights. The vast majority of Hoosiers across the political spectrum strongly oppose this extremist push. This fight will continue for the foreseeable future. I’ll continue to fiercely defend women and their right to choose as well as the rights of other marginalized groups such as LGBTQ+ groups.
Between industrial pollution and attempts at ultra-wealthy privatization, we are constantly fighting to protect our beautiful lake and dunes. As a City Attorney, I worked with Save the Dunes and other groups and municipalities to stop privatization and to keep the dunes safe for generations to come. Now, as a member of the Indiana Senate, I have continued the fight to protect our environment and water supply.
As a Deputy Public Defender for the Indiana Public Defender’s Office, I have witnessed what poverty and a failed War on Drugs did to families and communities in our state. Draconian sentencing guidelines and broadly written criminal codes have imprisoned populations and have stifled communities for generations. Reversing the effects of these failed policies will take generations and ignoring the ongoing addiction epidemic we are facing will only make it worse.
Cannabis Legalization and regulation would undoubtedly ease the burden on the criminal justice system and the communities that suffer therefrom. While Indiana watches its neighbors reap the benefits of taking cannabis off of the black market, Indiana Republicans refuse to listen to the vast majority of Hoosiers that believe its time to legalize and regulate cannabis. I will keep pushing to pass Sen. Tallian’s Cannabis Reform Package would be the first step in bringing Indiana out of the dark ages.