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What the ACLU of Indiana is tracking

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This story was published in Capitol Watch, a supplement to Indiana Lawyer daily.

The ACLU of Indiana is keeping an eye on bills that have been introduced this session and is anticipating others that could be introduced, including those that will affect due process, First Amendment rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, Second Amendment rights, and rights based on gender identity and sexual orientation, among other issues covered by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

While only four bills were on their watch list as of Wednesday, Executive Director Gilbert Holmes said he anticipated more would be introduced in the coming days and weeks.

Of the four bills the ACLU of Indiana is watching, it supports three and is monitoring one.

The organization supports HB 1003, contracting of public assistance eligibility. This bill would prohibit various state offices from contracting "with another person to administer or process eligibility intake for specified programs." That bill moved out of committee Tuesday.

The organization also supports two Senate bills, including SB 64, regarding the display of political signs. This bill "prohibits a homeowners association from adopting or enforcing certain restrictive covenants or homeowners association rules concerning the display of political signs." This bill's first reading took place Tuesday, and it was referred to the Committee on Elections.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the ACLU of Indiana filed a federal suit on behalf of a Plainfield homeowner who was told to take down a political sign because he was displaying the sign outside of the time limits the town implemented. That and two similar cases the ACLU of Indiana filed in 2008 have since been settled. Plainfield, along with Highland and Lebanon, have since dropped their restrictions on political signage as it relates to private homeowners and time limits, as reported in the Jan. 21-Feb. 3, 2009 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

SB 83, public inspection of provisional ballot materials, regards election material related to provisional ballots. The bill's first reading took place Tuesday, and it was referred to the Committee on Elections.

The ACLU of Indiana has closely been involved with lawsuits involving the need for identification at the polls and other voting rights issues in past legislative sessions.

The organization is also monitoring a Senate bill, SB 71 because it relates to reproductive rights. That bill would make it an act of criminal recklessness if someone caused the termination of a pregnancy in the act of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, or through other reckless behavior. The bill's first reading took place Tuesday and it was referred to the Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

During the session, the ACLU of Indiana will have a list of bills they are tracking on their Web site and information as to why they are interested in particular bills.

A list of 2009 bills the ACLU of Indiana watched, including voting records of state senators and representatives, is available on their Web site.

An in-depth profile of Holmes, the group's new executive director, and the organization will appear in the Jan. 20-Feb.2 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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