Multistate compacts point to lack in the level of government transparency compared to Indiana

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Unfortunately, the standard level of government transparency must not be as great in many other states than it is in Indiana.

This comes to light every time the Indiana legislature is asked to consider multistate compacts – as is the case with several bills filed during the 2020 General Assembly.

S.B. 61 enacts an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact. The bill is authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.

S.B. 355 is the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact. Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, is the author of this bill.

Our arguments though are non-starters due to nature of the multistate agreement. State Senators and Representatives cannot accommodate any changes, even if they might agree with our arguments.

During the 2019 General Assembly, there were:

H.E.A. 1344 and S.B. 436, which allowed Indiana to become a part of a multistate licensure compact for nurses. The authors were Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, and Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington.

In each of the above bills, I’ve noted an area where a level of confidentiality is given either for meetings or records that HSPA would argue against in a regular bill and feel confident we would have a good chance for an amendment.

But multistate compacts have a built-in wall of resistance. The bill author’s hands are tied. If they allow for substantive changes in the original legislation, then Indiana’s application to join the compact through this legislation can be rejected by the other states who already are part of the compact.

That’s exactly what happened during the last session. Rep. Clere and Sen. Zay were initially amenable to an amendment that would address HSPA’s concerns with confidentiality until they determined that any change in the compact language could lead to a rejection of Indiana’ application to join the compact.

S.B. 61 allows for the multistate commission that oversees the EMS personnel licensure compact to meet in secret to discuss the noncompliance of a state with its obligations under the compact. S.B. 355 has the exact language included for its multistate commission

HSPA would argue those discussions should be a matter of public record if it appears there is an issue with Indiana’s licensure process for EMS personnel or psychologists. Hoosiers should know whether there are deficiencies in how the state regulated EMS personnel or psychologists. It would be logical for questions to be asked as to why the state is in noncompliance.

Under the compacts, that information doesn’t become available until the issue is so extreme that the compact’s commission would throw Indiana out of the agreement.

Our arguments though are non-starters due to nature of the multistate agreement. State Senators and Representatives cannot accommodate any changes, even if they might agree with our arguments.

So, I might grind my teeth a little bit when I see these interstate compacts, but then move on to legislation where we can have an impact on the public’s right to know.

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