AFA-IN: Mask Mandate, Legislative Power Play

A Long Road to Full Recovery

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says the hospitality industry in Indianahas “turned a strong corner” but they still warn that there’s still a long road ahead. Patrick Tamm, president of the association, predicts it’ll be a year or more before business fully recovers while hotels won’t be back to pre-pandemic levels for another three years.

More than 1/5th of Indiana’s restaurants have gone out of business due to the Covid virus and government restrictions.  However, Tamm notes that restaurants in many states are faring worse than those in Indiana.

The Governor Brings Out the Heavy Hitters

         As you know, yesterday afternoon Governor Eric Holcomb announced that he was lifting the statewide mask mandate on April 6th in light of declining Covid cases and a significant portion of Hoosiers getting vaccinated.

This move may have been a part of a power struggle between the legislature and the executive branch. The Indiana Senate is considering a bill that would limit the emergency order powers of the Governor through House Bill 1123.  It sets up a panel of legislators who could review the governor’s orders and, in some cases, call the full legislature in for a review of an order.

Governor Holcomb sent Health Commissioner Kristina Box, National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles, Homeland Security Director Steve Cox, Family and Social Services Commissioner Jennifer Sullivan and a couple others to testify against HB 1123.  They argued that the legislation would limit their ability to act quickly.

The sponsor of HB 1123, Senator Sue Glick, was not impressed, “I find it interesting that so many members of the administration find it threatening that legislators want a seat at the table. We are part of the Constitution; we are a branch of this government. For a year now, we’ve been very patient. But we’ve been simply ignored on many occasions. We have attempted to deal with the governor’s office … and state government, and we have repeatedly, like our constituents, been stymied.”

It is unclear how this may play out now in the legislature.  Does the governor’s announcement take some of the steam out of HB 1123?   Some legislators were reportedly waiting to see what the Governor did on his own to reopen Indiana by April 1st.

One thing that I did not know, but should have, was reported in several news stories of the Governor’s speech.  It seems that when the state (Governor) declares an emergency, as we have had now for 12 months, there is a lot of federal money funneled to the state for every 30-day declaration.  Opponents of these orders may see that as a perverse financial incentive for legislating out of the Governor’s office.

Jobs, Not Handouts, to Reduce Child Poverty

A very well-respected researcher is making the point in a blog that what America needs is not stimulus money or checks but a growing economy that created jobs. Nicholas Zill argues that this is particularly true for America’s poor.

He notes, “Before the pandemic struck, employment among vulnerable families with children was going up and child poverty was going down. In 2019, the child poverty rate reached record lows: 10.5 million children, or 14% of all U.S. children, were in families below the official poverty line, compared to 16.3 million, or 22%, in 2010. Poverty was decreasing among all major racial and ethnic groups, with the greatest declines among Black and Hispanic children.

       The outbreak of the pandemic led to sharp increases in parental unemployment and non-participation in the labor force, especially among mothers and parents of both sexes who had been in relatively low-wage, low-skill occupations, with a consequent rise in child poverty. But many jobs shut down by the pandemic have reopened or will soon do so, and growing numbers of mothers and fathers are working or looking for work again. Sending parents money whether they participate in the labor force or not is hardly calculated to provide a positive incentive toward starting or resuming paid employment.

       Despite the obvious financial advantages of having parents work, only 10% of children in poor families in 2019 had both parents in the labor force and contributing to the child’s upkeep. Three times that proportion—29%—had neither parent in the labor force. By contrast, among non-poor children, 58% had both parents working.”

Read more here:

Rewriting Election Laws Under a Pandemic

Several states, with somewhat questionable election outcomes in November, appeared to have liberal factions using the fear of Covid-19 to rewrite election laws through other agencies of government, rather than how their constitutions seemed to dictate.

I have been watching the progress of Senate Bill 353 in Indiana. It reaffirms that only the Indiana legislature can change election laws involving voting times, dates, and mail-in balloting.   It had been scheduled for a hearing in the House Election Committee yesterday, but the hearing was cancelled.   (I hope it will have a hearing next week.)   SB 353 passed the Senate last month on a 34-15 vote.

You can contact your State Representative about this bill at 317-232-9600.

You can find your representative here:

Worthy of Protection

Another bill we are watching in the Indiana House is Senate Bill 187.  This bill is a response to the months of Antifa and BLM rioting last summer where, across Indiana, many public buildings and monuments were vandalized.  (Black Lives Matter actually spray-painted the civil war monument on the Indianapolis Circle which, in part, is a monument to Indiana’s Union soldiers.)

In some cities it seemed as though many protestors got away with defacing those taxpayer-funded monuments.   SB 187 enlists the State Police to defend those monuments and to prosecute violators if local prosecutors turn a blind eye to such crimes.

SB 187 passed the Senate on a 41-6.  (The bill was heard and passed in the House Veterans Committee but reassigned to the Courts Committee.)

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In Their Own Words:

“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.” – C.S. Lewis


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