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Indiana Young Democrats launch Legislative Advisory Council

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If you found yourself attending legislative hearings at the Statehouse over the past few months, it’s likely you came across members of the Indiana Young Democrats (IYD). Members of the group — who range in age from 14 to 36 — spoke out against the controversial education House Bill 1134 and in favor of voting accessibility. Their increased presence in the Statehouse comes on the heels of the creation of the IYD Legislative Advisory Council.

The council, comprised of 12 members (so far), aims to teach young Democrats more about the legislative process and connect them with legislators. Participating lawmakers include Reps. Cherrish Pryor, Tonya Pfaff and Maureen Bauer, as well as Sens. Shelli Yoder and Fady Qaddoura.

State Rep. Cherrish Pryor

Pryor, a member of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, said her role on the council is to keep IYD members informed about what’s happening in the Statehouse, as well as growing the party for the future.

“One day, someone is going to have to take my position, and we need to have young people engaged in political practice at all levels, from all vantage points,” Pryor said. “We have to encourage and get younger people involved.”

Another benefit of the council, Pryor said, is it gives lawmakers the opportunity to hear directly from young voters about what concerns they have.

IYD President Arielle Brandy said the creation of the advisory council furthers the existing mission of the organization.

“IYD has benefited from the momentum we have built over the last three years in keeping focused on our mission: to mobilize young people to get involved and to support champions for IYD issues,” Brandy said in a statement. “… We are confident this advisory council will keep our members engaged and interested in connecting with their legislator to make a difference in our state. We are making it our commitment to connect young Hoosiers with the legislative process, mobilizing them to advocate for policy changes and to show we are fighting for them and the future of Indiana.”

Get involved in Indiana Young Democrats (IYD)
For more information about the IYD Legislative Advisory Council, visit IYD’s website, indianayoungdem.org

Dyna Martinez, 25, is IYD’s national committeewoman who reports directly to IYD’s parent organization, Young Democrats of America. With the council, Martinez helps shape the group’s priorities, which consists of removing barriers from the voting process and focusing on bills that have the potential to impact Indiana’s economy for years to come. Increased collaboration within IYD, along with the advisory council, she said, sends a message throughout the state.

“Having a group presence shows that we’re here and we won’t stay silent any longer,” Martinez said. “To see young people like me making their voices heard and impacting legislation is very important, and going into 2022 and beyond, we’re going to make sure that our voices are heard all across the ballot. … That’s what’s going to make a difference.”

Martinez said the next step for the advisory council is to work with Indiana High School Democrats to get more high school students involved. Working with teenagers, she said, allows them to learn more about the legislative process and their role in it, as well as encourage them to vote and possibly run for office when they are able.

With the 2022 legislative session over, Martinez said the council has been reflecting on the impact of their work so far — IYD members testified against House Bill 1134, which died in the Senate on Feb. 28, and championed Sen. Rita Fleming’s bill which could increase protections for pregnant inmates in Indiana — and thinking ahead to the future. When the legislature isn’t in session, the group will focus on campaigning for candidates and “shaping up the future of the Democratic Party,” Martinez said.

“We’re looking for more members, and we just want to make sure we’re encouraging people to get involved and maybe seek elected offices themselves,” Martinez said. “We’d love to have more perspectives on the council.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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