Tag Archives: campaign for hoosier families

The Right to Drive – Possible Legislation Coming

An estimated 4.5 million undocumented immigrants nationwide are driving regularly, most without licenses. In 2019, legislators in several states introduced legislation to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented residents including Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. Legislation in New York passed in the State Assembly and is now in the State Senate. At the moment only twelve states issuing licenses without proof of legal residence in the United states; those states being: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Vermont and Washington.

It is our understanding that State Representative Chris Campbell, who represents a large portion of Lafayette/West Lafayette, will be authoring legislation that will allow persons residing in Indiana, who do not possess the necessary immigration documents to otherwise qualify for a standard drivers’ license, to receive a driver’s card

Many states have adopted tough new laws to prevent illegal immigrants from driving, while expanding immigration enforcement by state and local police. The Department of Homeland Security figures show that at least 30,000 undocumented immigrants who were stopped for common traffic violations in the last three years have ended facing deportation. The numbers are rapidly increasing, and as a result are aggravating tensions in the national debate over immigration.

What has been asked of Indiana, multiple times, is for the state to approve a permit for undocumented residents. This permit would allow individuals to fearlessly travel to work, take their children to school, and to give them a peace of mind. In this day and age it is difficult to live depending on public transportation. The permit being discussed would provide reliable transportation to undocumented residents. Sadly, time and time again that legislation establishing a permit for undocumented residents to drive has been proposed it has quickly been rejected.

by Brenda Barrera, Campaign for Hoosier Families Intern

Capping Payday Loan Interest Rates

Hoosier Are In Need

by Angela Weaver, Klinker-Alting Family Advocacy intern

It is a sad day for all of us at Campaign for Hoosier Families.  Senate Bill 104, which capped interest rates on payday loans, was defeated in the third reading with a vote of 22 yeas and 27 nays and will not continue any further this session. Consequently, the bill which we all had high hopes for is now dead. Originally authored by Senator Greg Walker and Senator John Ruckelshaus, this bill seemed to have the support needed at the State Capitol in order to pass both houses and become law. At the time of third reading, SB-104 had eight co-authors.Senate Bill 84 and House Bill 1098 which also addressed small loan finance charges did not make it passed the first reading.

To share your story, click HERE.

by Angela Weaver, Klinker-Alting Family Advocacy intern

Indiana Minimum Wage Update

As you know raising the minimum wage is a priority for Campaign for Hoosier Families. While the minimum wage bills introduced in this current session did not move through the Indiana General Assembly this year, we encourage you during the off session to let your State Representative and State Senator know that you support raising the Indiana minimum wage as well overall income equality so that they may be persuaded to address it next year.

To find your legislators, click HERE.

IN General Assembly TANF Reform Bill – 2019

Learn More & Help Make A Change

Several state senators have authored a bill which seeks to begin much-needed reform to the TANF program. As highlighted in our previous newsletter, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families provides much-needed temporary financial assistance benefits for families as well as individuals which find themselves in dire financial situations. It is intended to ensure some sense of stability for those in such situations, but as we discussed, has been in need of reform for quite some time.

Senate Bill 440 aims to expand the eligibility requirements for receiving such benefits – based on the family’s income in relation to the federal poverty level. The bill would gradually increase the maximum allowable income to qualify for benefits under TANF up to 50% of the federal poverty level by July of 2021. The new threshold would be an increase of 17% providing access to benefits for many more Hoosiers in need. In addition, the bill aims to increase the payments made under the TANF program for most qualifying individuals and families, and would require these benefit amounts to continue to be monitored and adjusted according to increases in the Social Security cost of living adjustment. New payments would range from $248 monthly for most qualifying individuals and $409 monthly for families.

While the new payment amounts are not nearly enough to provide stability for qualifying people on their own, this is an encouraging move in response to awareness efforts by advocates such as yourselves to make the need for reform known. Expanding eligibility requirements is also a positive move forward for reforming this program and addressing the needs of those most impacted. To track the progress of this bill, as well as all bills moving forward in the 2019 session related to topics covered in the Campaign for Hoosier Families newsletter, see our Legislation Tracker (click HERE).

by Rob Krasa, LUM intern

Solving Food Deserts: One Bill at a Time

Families Need Healthy Food Locally

House Bill 1143 (http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/house/1143#digest-heading), authored byRepresentative Robin Shackleford and co-authored by Representative Steven Davisson, Edward Clere, and Vanessa Summers seeks to combat the prevalence of food deserts in the state, establishing both a healthy food financing fund and a healthy food financing program under the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The new fund will act to provide financing, in the form of loans and grants, for projects that will help increase the availability of fresh food in underserved communities. This is an important step in ensuring the health of Hoosiers across Indiana.

The bill has not moved since it was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means in the Indiana House of Representatives on January 7th. While the bill has yet to be heard by committee, its presence in the state’s legislative agenda illustrates legislators is encouraging since it signals that legislators are aware of food security problems within the state.  This map of Indianapolis illustrates the prevalence of food deserts,indicated by purple block groups, in Indianapolis. This map is courtesy of Savi, one of the nation’s first and largest community information systems.

by Eli Heindricks, Purdue Political Science student

Highlighted Legislator – Carey Hamilton

Indiana State Representative Carey Hamilton

Representative Carey Hamilton recently authored House Bill 1098, a bill to cap the interest rates on payday loans. The cap on payday loans interest rates will make it so families are able to pay off the loans without having to worry about astronomical interest rates. (See the article above titled “Targeting Low Income Families & Children” for more information about the threat posed by the predatory lenders and Representative Hamilton’s bill.)

State Representative Carey Hamilton has done tremendous things during her time in office. Representative Carey Hamilton currently serves as the Democratic whip in the Indiana House of Representatives and represents Indiana House District 87 in Northeast Indiana. Representative Hamilton serves as the ranking minority member of the Financial Institutions Committee as well as serving on the Environmental Affairs and Ways and Means Committees.

Representative Hamilton has quite the impressive background before she was even elected into the Indiana House of Representatives in 2016. For nine years, Representative Hamilton served as the executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition. Furthermore, she worked as a nonprofit executive for over 20 years.

On behalf of the Campaign for Hoosier Families, we would like to thank Representative Hamilton for all she has done to push back against unscrupulous payday lenders. We will continue to follow and support House Bill 1098.

by Angela Weaver, Klinker-Alting Family Advocacy intern

Cap Payday Lending Interest Rates

Targeting Low Income Families & Children

The fight to cap the interest rates charged by payday loans is all the talk around the Indiana State Capitol. The Indiana Coalition for Human Services of which LUM is a member has been has been fighting vigorously for this cap. The cap has gained a lot of traction and attention by advocates such as yourselves spreading the hashtag “#36IsTheFix.” Many of the payday lenders that market themselves to low income families charge anywhere from 390% – 790%. Given the severe economic harm to the most vulnerable in our state, it is vital that interest rates be capped at 36%. Since the last newsletter, Senator Breaux, Senator Stoops, and Senator Ruckelshaus have been added as co authors on Senate Bill 104. Senate Bill 84 has been referred to the Insurance and Financial Institutions committee. House Bill 1098 has been referred to the Financial Institutions committee, as well. On behalf of the Campaign for Hoosier Families, we would like to thank Representative Carey Hamilton, Senator Eddie Melton, Senator Greg Walker, and Senator Mark Messmer for authoring these bills. We would encourage them to send them a note thanking them as well. Their names and email addresses are listed below:

If you have ever been personally affected by payday loans, please share your story below to help the Indiana Institute for Working Families increase awareness on this predatory lending. If you would like to show your support for these bills, please contact your legislators today.

To share your story, click HERE.

by Angela Weaver, Klinker-Alting Family Advocacy intern

Highlighted Legislator – Mark Messmer

Indiana State Representative Mark Messmer

Senator Mark Messmer recently authored Senate Bill 104, a bill to cap the interest rates on payday loans. This bill will help low income families everywhere that need help from payday loans occasionally to cover their bills and to be able to pay off the loan at lower interest rates.
Senator Messmer is a state Senator for District 48 in Southern Indiana and is the Republican Majority Floor Leader. During the 2019 Session, Senator Messmer will be serving as the Chair in the Environmental Affairs Committee, as well as the the Chair in the Joint Rules Committee. He is the Ranking Member in the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee. Senator Messmer also serves as a member in the Public Policy Committee and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee. Graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Senator Messmer is the owner of Messmer Mechanical, INC. He is also a member and music minister for the Holy Family Catholic Church.

by Angela Weaver, Campaign for Hoosier Families intern

Legislation to Fix Food Desert

Families Need Healthy Food Locally

In the 2019 legislative session, the Indiana Senate will consider a bill which will help residents in food deserts. Food deserts are urban or rural areas where affordable, fresh food isn’t easily available. Food deserts are currently defined as areas with no or few healthy food options available at retail outlets (more than one mile from a supermarket in urban areas and as more than 10 miles in rural areas). Numbers from the USDA indicate that roughly 10% of Marion County residents live in food deserts as of 2015. This lies in stark contrast to other Indiana counties. Only 2% of Hamilton County residents live in comparable food deserts for example. Senate Bill 143 aims to help fix the food desert problem. The bill proposes the implementation of a sales tax, not to exceed 1%, that will finance the healthy food and community development financing fund (IHCDA), a fund which will finance projects relating to healthy food, affordable housing, and community development. The bill will allow the fiscal body of an Indiana county to adopt the tax in areas designated as food desert districts.

by Eli Heindricks, Purdue Political Science student

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Learn More & Help Make A Change

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, is a program designed to provide assistance for families in desperate times of need. Operating as a federal block grant which is managed and regulated at the state level, it is intended as a resource of last resort for individuals and families who have fallen on severely hard circumstances. Established out of the effort for welfare reform in 1996, the original funding source expired at the end of the government’s 2002 fiscal year (September). Funding has since operated as a bandage for the program, consisting of a long series of short-term continuances. 

Accordingly, the qualifications and benefits of the program have severely eroded in that time. As of this writing, only those families at 17% or less of the federal poverty level qualify, and even then, standard financial assistance of $288 monthly don’t even approach the lowest of rent or mortgage payments. This means that only about 16,000 of the nearly 1,000,000 Hoosiers experiencing poverty received TANF assistance last year, and most did not receive enough assistance to make a meaningful difference in their circumstances. Additionally, while TANF is intended to provide direct assistance to families in need, states are able to get somewhat creative with their appropriation of TANF grant dollars so long as there is some relation between the spending and benefits for qualifying families. As recently as 2016, this resulted in Indiana using only about 6% of the allotted $302 million for direct financial assistance. A vast majority (94%) goes to programs and case management service that help parents find jobs. Cash benefits as well as education/training benefits are necessary to help parents focus on obtaining the skills necessary to compete in an increasingly technological job market.

Change is long overdue. For more information and to learn what you can do to make a difference and help make a change, visit the Indiana Institute for Working Families website. To view click HERE.

by Rob Krasa, LUM intern