Indianapolis City-County Council votes to keep current health orders in place, ban smoking in parks and more

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis City-County Council voted Monday evening to keep the current public health orders made by county health director Dr. Virginia Caine in place.

The vote was in response to state lawmakers’ override of the governor’s veto of a bill giving local elected officials power over county or city public health orders issued during emergencies.

Dr. Caine released the following statement in response to Monday’s vote to ratify Marion County Public Health Orders:

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marion County Public Health Department has worked closely with local, state, and federal officials, as well as partners in health, education, and the many sectors of our economy, embracing best practices and smart public health policies while preserving and protecting our local economy to the greatest extent possible.

The ability to make quick decisions at a local level is critical to protecting Hoosiers during a public health crisis. I am grateful to Mayor Joe Hogsett, President Vop Osili, and the Indianapolis City-County Council for taking swift action tonight to ratify the latest public health orders, keeping our residents safe and our city headed back on track.”

That wasn’t the only proposal the City-County Council adopted Monday night. Council members voted 18-6 to adopt Proposal 135, which will effectively ban smoking in Indy Parks. The proposal amends the local code to expand nonsmoking areas within the city to include public parks owned or leased by the city or county.   

Additionally, City-County Council took up Proposal 134, which appropriates $100,000 to the Office of Public Health and Safety to establish an Immigrant Defense Fund to provide immediate legal information, screenings, consultation and representation to residents seeking asylum, pursuing citizenship or at risk of deportation.

“I want to thank the Council for hearing and adopting Proposal 134, and I appreciate the support and partnership of the Hogsett administration in the creation of the Immigrant Defense Fund,” said co-sponsor Councillor Crista Carlino.

Co-Sponsor Jessica McCormick added: “These much needed dollars will provide the resources our neighbors need to continue to be safe and productive members of our community. We look forward to seeing this newly created Immigrant Defense Fund fully implemented and to watch as it progresses and how it benefits our city’s diverse residents.”

Councillor Michael-Paul Hart released the following statement:

“With regard to proposal 134,2021. As much as I care about immigrant’s desire to become residents of the great State of Indiana, it is not the responsibility of the taxpayers to support their legal initiatives. City taxpayers funding lawyers is one less dollar to benefit our vulnerable neighbors such as the disabled, system impacted youth, the homelessness, or those suffering from mental illness. As a local municipality, taxpayers want us to pass ordinances and budgets that keep Indianapolis safe & clean and with roads that are operable. They want a safe City with clean water to drink, their trash removed, parks, and libraries to enjoy recreation.

The idea of supporting undocumented/illegal immigrants with financial support is a philanthropic initiative. The City of Indianapolis is not a philanthropic institution, nor should it be deciding winners and losers. As Councillors, we can do more than spend taxpayer dollars. We are a microphone for the people. We are middlemen and women of the Community to connect Citizens to organizations and local governments and local governments and organizations to Citizens.

If there are Councillors in the City of Indianapolis interested in funding legal initiatives for illegal immigrants, they need to call on our philanthropic organizations to fill the need. As much as I respect the benevolent intent of my fellow Councilors, our taxpayers elected us to budget their dollars appropriately towards public safety, local infrastructure, and other public amenities.”

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