INDIANAPOLIS — A small Region campaign to improve civility in government and prevent bullying in schools got some big recognition Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse.
The 50 Hoosier senators unanimously approved Senate Resolution 6, praising the efforts of Community Civility Counts to foster meaningful public dialogue that acknowledges every point of view.
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, sponsor of the measure, said the Civility Counts commitments adopted by the governing bodies of Gary, Hammond, Valparaiso and Lake County should be a model for communities across the state, as well as in the Statehouse.
"The word 'civility,' that's a simple and easy word, but it's a very powerful word," Randolph said. "I would ask that we as a Senate get on board."
Lawmakers lauded Chuck Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, and Bob Heisse, executive editor at The Times Media Co., and their associates, for cooperating to make Community Civility Counts a meaningful and impactful institution.
Hughes said civility is needed now more than ever in households, workplaces, schools and basically everywhere people gather.
He said it's easy to be civil; all it takes is being mindful of what you say, what you do and how you act toward your family, friends, neighbors and strangers.
"It costs nothing, you don't have to join anything, there's no initiation, there's no fee," Hughes said. "It's simply what is expected of us."
That civility message appears to be resonating throughout the Statehouse during the 2016 legislative session.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, both pledged earlier this month that debate over controversial issues will not devolve into name-calling or personal attacks.
In addition, the Association of Retired Members of the Indiana General Assembly this year established a Civility in Government Award to honor current lawmakers who show respect for the institution, their fellow members and help shape debate in a calm and constructive manner.
Among the first honorees were state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, and state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, two veteran lawmakers well-versed in working across party lines on education, health care and other major issues.
"To have been given this award by such an esteemed group of legislators is a great honor," Rogers said. "Working alongside many of these friends and colleagues has been a great privilege, so to receive their nod of approval is incredibly humbling."