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Sen. Greg Taylor

Sen. Greg Taylor

Every week, members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, the eleven Black men and women representing Indiana’s African-American community in the Indiana Legislature, will be appearing on Afternoons with Amos to update the community on upcoming legislative issues and to hear community concerns; especially about state government.  This week State Senator Greg Taylor, a Vice-Chair of the Caucus and State Representative John Bartlett appeared.  After first expressing their condolences at the passing of Rep. Earl Harris who’d served the state, the Legislature since 1982 and was one of the founders of the Black Caucus, the two lawmakers got down to issues.

Rep. John Bartlett

Rep. John Bartlett

They discussed some changes in education legislation that got Republicans, who outnumber Democrats in the Legislature, to agree to Democratic changes in some bills that would impact how schools are run.  The biggest victory was stopping a plan to allow the Indiana State Board of Education to takeover an entire school district.  The State Board’s behavior at suddenly ordering a Gary middle school to close angered Republicans who felt it could happen to their community’s schools.  Rep. Bartlett also talked about a proposal that would sharply restrict how Small Claims Courts would work in Marion County.  The plan, which is bottled up in a Senate committee, by Republicans surprisingly, would force anyone sued by a bill collector in Small Claims Court to have to appear in Decatur Township on the southwest side.  An area with no public transportation service among other drawbacks.

Christ Church Cathedral

Source: Christ Church Cathedral

But the bulk of the Black legislators appearance was devoted to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was approved on a partisan vote and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last week. All of Indiana’s Black legislators voted against the bill which could allow anyone to use “religion” as an excuse to discriminate.

Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen

Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen / Christ Church Cathedral

During the interview, the two lawmakers were joined by the Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen, Rector (Pastor) of Christ Church (Episcopal) Cathedral. One of Indianapolis’ oldest and most respected churches located on Monument Circle.  Rev. Carlsen talked about Christ’s ministry as a way of explain his opposition and the opposition of the Episcopal Church to the new religious freedom law. Even though there’s scores of issues the legislature’s dealing with, public and world wide interest in the religious freedom law was high among listeners and the lawmakers and Rev. Carlsen. On Our NEW Media Player Hear This Week’s Update From Indiana’s Black Legislators and the Interview With Christ Church Rev. Carlsen. Runs 56 Minutes ©2015 WTLC/Radio One. Starts After Brief Video Ad.