Holcomb ‘a steady hand at the wheel’
As our country turns the corner on COVID-19, I cannot help but reflect on how much has happened over the past year. First, our nation experienced a major economic hit from mass shutdowns for the sake of public health. In many Indiana homes, this action took away the ability to earn a living and restricted our interaction with family and friends.
Secondly, our nation was shaken once more with social unrest due to the deaths of George Floyd and others. As a result, people of all races participated in events around social justice, demanding a change of police tactics and inequality. To say the least, 2020, was a troublesome year for any leader to navigate, but we have made it to his point.
In this context, I feel compelled to acknowledge Gov. Holcomb’s efforts to strike the right balance in dealing with COVID and recognizing the need for police reform.
Earlier this month, Gov. Holcomb started to remove some of the state mandates required for dealing with COVID. While other states rushed to open, Indiana was consistent to policies and guidelines designed to keep our communities safe.
He also signed into law House Bill 1006; a historic Police reform measure aimed to improve policing across Indiana. HB 1006 is not a defund the police bill, nor does it turn a deaf ear to the cries for change we all heard across our country last summer. It allocates $70 million to improve and update the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy’s training facility and requires de-escalation training. It also prohibits chokeholds under certain situations and criminalizes an officer turning off a body camera to conceal criminal behavior. The most critical part of HB 1006 is that it allows the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board to decertify an officer who commits misconduct. Furthermore, officers’ employment records from previous employers are required when changing employment.
Another commodity Indiana can export to the rest of America is the bipartisan nature of HB 1006. The bill received unanimous support from the General Assembly. Senate Democratic leader Sen. Greg Taylor said, “HB 1006 is a testament to what we can do when we work together in the best interest of Hoosiers instead of politics.” The bill is supported by the state Fraternal Order of Police, the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, the Indiana Sheriff’s Association, the NAACP, the Indianapolis Urban League, the Indiana Black Expo, and members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. All things considered, quite remarkable for 2021.
I applaud the bold leadership of Gov. Eric Holcomb and his team in the Governor’s office for leading Indiana through a once-in-a-lifetime public health emergency, social unrest, and economic dislocation no one could have imagined. Sure, no person is perfect and we all can point to something that might have been handled differently. However, Governor Holcomb has proven to be a steady hand at the wheel for Indiana for these turbulent times and for that, I am thankful.
Shawn Carruthers, Floyd County Commissioner, New Albany
Legislature’s failure to raise cigarette tax disappointing
Tobacco Free Indiana, a coalition of local, state and national organizations, released the following statement on the e-cigarette taxes included in the latest Indiana budget bill:
Every year that goes by without a significant increase of Indiana’s cigarette tax is a missed opportunity to lower our state’s smoking rate and save lives. Raising the cigarette tax is the most effective policy tool that state lawmakers can use to reduce the burden of tobacco on Hoosier families and businesses, but, yet again, lawmakers failed to pull this from their toolbox this session.
Raising the cigarette tax is popular with Hoosiers. In public polling and even legislators’ own constituent surveys, the issue enjoys consistent broad bipartisan support. It is disappointing that the Indiana Senate has not advanced the issue in 14 years.
Legislators do deserve credit for enacting significant new taxes on electronic cigarettes in this budget bill. E-cigarettes are tobacco products and should be taxed in parity with other tobacco products. By avoiding a per-milliliter tax in favor of taxing the price of the products, state lawmakers recognize that products with small, concentrated cartridges like Juul bear responsibility for the youth vaping epidemic. The new tax rates are an important step forward, but would have been more effective if they had been paired with a significant cigarette tax increase.
Together with our many partner organizations, Tobacco Free Indiana remains united in our call for legislators to raise the cigarette tax by $2 per pack.
Annie Reiss, The Clark County Tobacco Prevention & Cessation coordinator
Gamers Association seeks support
The Corydon Gamers Association, set up in Harrison County, is a nonprofit organization that could use your help. This organization was designed to get kids out of awkward situations, socially for example. Our operation is there to teach them to integrate into society. We have a mission and a vision; however, we cannot reach our goals without you. We have some upcoming fundraisers, such as a Pledge Drive and a Shoe Drive which is due by July 1.
You can help and here is how:
• We want to be more active and, to achieve this, we need more members and more people willing to share their expertise with us. This will enable us to spread the word throughout the community and surrounding areas that we are here in Corydon and we are willing to help them to become better socially, competitively, and communally as well as give us the manpower to do so.
• For us to grow and meet the expanding needs of the community, we need to broaden our reach by engaging more people to our cause. We know that with the right team, we can make this happen.
• So, join our team, and help us keep our doors open. Together, we can help everyone who is willing to come and ask for assistance. We are a place for making new friendships whether you are 8 or 80; we are a network for the gaming community. We want you to join us. So, call 812-736-1468. Write to us at 216 E. Chestnut St., Corydon, IN 47112, or email us through our website at cga.doodlekit.com. We have a Facebook page you can connect to as well.
We are the Critical Hits Corydon Gamers Association, and it is critical that we connect with the community to meet our goals. We implore you to reach out to us.
Jeffery Hurtgen, Corydon