Mayor Signs Expanded Smoke-Free Ordinance

April 20, 2012

Great to hear from the mayor’s office that he signed John’s Proposal 136 – the enhanced smoke free proposal – into law. The Council made this a high priority and it’s just the beginning of the work to be done. Now let’s keep moving forward and make our city a prosperous place with great schools, great jobs, and strong neighborhoods.


Bi-Partisan Support Boosts Tougher Smoking Ban

April 17, 2012

Below is a press release from the Indianapolis City/County Council:

Indianapolis, April 16, 2012  – The City/County Council, by a bi-partisan majority, approved a tough new smoke-free ordinance Monday night.

The new ordinance will extend the current non-smoking rules to include bars, bowling alleys, restaurants and hotel rooms. The bipartisan ordinance was authored by Councillors Angela Mansfield and John Barth.

“We’ve talked and we’ve listened. We’ve studied and we’ve compromised. Now, we’ve taken action to protect our residents and workers and make our city more attractive to business and tourists,” said Council President Maggie Lewis.

The proposal permits smoking in private clubs if a majority of their members vote to allow it. Without an affirmative vote to allow smoking private clubs will be smoke-free.

Mayor Ballard vetoed an earlier proposal that covered private clubs, but protected children, by restricting their access to clubs that retained smoking. A recently passed state law now includes protection for children in certain, designated rooms in private clubs.

“I am pleased we have passed a common-sense proposal that will expand protections and better promote public health. I urge the Mayor’s to sign this proposal right away”, said at-large Councillor John Barth.

Embrace Ideas That Help Animal Control Efforts

April 14, 2012

Below is a letter to the editor published in the Indianapolis Star on 4/13/12 by John along with leaders in the city’s animal welfare community:

To the Editor:

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control faces tremendous challenges in managing the unwanted pet population. Chief among them is managing the huge volume of unwanted pets (more than 17,000 in 2011) with limited resources amid an economic downturn. Because of this volume, Animal Control has had to humanely euthanize far more animals than anyone would like, about half of the animals dropped off last year.

With limited resources, what steps can Animal Control take to reduce the level of unwanted pets dropped off at the center? How can Animal Control begin to raise revenue that can be used to promote spay and neuter options? The Animal Welfare Alliance, Animal Care and Control leadership, and members of the City-County Council have been meeting to seek answers. One of the ideas generated from these meetings recently was passed unanimously by the council and signed into law by the mayor.

The new law revises the city code to charge a $40 fee to non-Marion County residents who drop off unwanted animals at the Animal Control center (Marion County residents can still drop off for free). Animals from out-of-county residents accounted for 5 percent of drop-offs in 2011 (nearly 900 animals). In fact, the new law simply brings Indianapolis in line with the common practice of charging a “surrender fee” — just like governmental agencies do in surrounding counties. For example, Hamilton County charges a $160 fee for out-of-county drop-offs, and many counties refuse to accept out-of-county animals altogether.

Our hope is that this new fee for out-of-county residents will reduce the volume of animals dropped off at the center and raise revenue, with all proceeds required to be spent on spay and neuter activities. While we are glad this proposal is now law, there is much more to do to ensure that Indianapolis has an Animal Care and Control we can all be proud.

John Aleshire

CEO, Humane Society !of Indianapolis

John Barth

Member, Indianapolis City-County Council

Amber Myers

Chief, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control

Council Urges Mayor to use Uncovered State Funds for Public Safety

April 5, 2012

Below is a press release from the Indianapolis City/County Council:

Indianapolis – With the State’s announcement that Indiana counties have been underfunded through tax payments, the City-County Council is urging the Mayor and City Controller to use a portion of those unexpected additional funds to address the public safety shortfalls in the Department of Public Safety and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.  On Thursday, April 5, 2012, the State made a public announcement of previous underfunding in tax distributions to Indiana counties, which will result in an additional distribution of funds to Marion County of $17.7 million for 2011 and $23.6 million for 2012.  While the Mayor has issued a press release stating that he intends to put those additional funds into reserve for future budget challenges in 2013, Council leaders feel a portion of those monies should be used now to address funding gaps in public safety, before those gaps become unmanageable and public safety for citizens is thereby threatened.
“Public safety is a critical function of local government, and the safety of our citizens has to be our top priority.  The additional distribution provided by the State is a perfect opportunity to close the funding gap and keep our citizens safe,“ stated Council President Maggie Lewis.

Recent meetings of the Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee revealed budget shortfalls in various public safety departments and agencies, causing Council leaders to call for a special hearing.  Efforts continue to find solutions to funding critical public safety services for the citizens of Indianapolis.