Bauer calls for full public testimony on Senate Bill 1
INDIANAPOLIS - Of the nearly 300 people who signed up to testify on the Senate Republicans’ abortion ban bill in the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee yesterday, only 39 were able to speak in 4 hours. Today's testimony was limited to 2.5 hours, and only 22 out of 91 people who signed up were allowed to testify. That means only 18.9% of the public who wanted to testify were able to do so.
State Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) issued the following call to House Speaker Todd Huston and Republican leadership to not limit public testimony on the proposed legislation:
“This is the one of the most sweeping changes in legislation that our state government will ever impose on residents of Indiana,” Bauer said. “If abortion access is further restricted from where the current law in Indiana stands, it will bear sweeping consequences for women and girls, the future of family planning, rural communities without health care access, already overwhelmed and underfunded child service agencies, women active in the military, victims of domestic violence and attracting and keeping medical providers in our state. It is the obligation of public officials to hear from those impacted stakeholders before deciding this issue.
“I am calling on Republican leadership to not limit public comment. Sen. Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), the committee chair, stated if everyone who wanted to speak got the chance, ‘we'd be here 'til September.’ I say, so be it.
“If time is an issue, we shouldn't have cut the special session down from 40 days to just 21 days, by moving the start date from July 6 to July 25. If time is a real concern, we should fully vet this bill in January, when we meet for a regular session of the General Assembly, instead of rushing it through a special session convened to address tax relief for residents.
“Everyone who took time off on a weekday to travel to the Statehouse to have their voices heard, and to get in front of their legislator, must get their three minutes of speaking time. Testimony should be alternated between those for and those against the legislation, ensuring all sides of the issue are being weighed.
“All people deserve time to participate in the legislative process. When we shut out the public, we are obstructing their right to engage in our democracy. The future of this institution depends on residents' full faith in this legislative body, and requires vigorous debate and public input.”