GREENFIELD — At least five members of Congress will be at Greenfield City Hall Thursday, hearing about the Affordable Care Act’s impact on Indiana businesses and schools.
A congressional field hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in the council chamber, giving members of the public a firsthand glance at how policymakers gather information about issues affecting local communities.
Indiana Republican Reps. Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks and Larry Buschon will be at the event, alongside Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, who will chair the hearing. Democrats have been invited to attend as well, but as of Tuesday afternoon it was unclear which Democratic members, if any, would attend.
A congressional field hearing is a hearing outside of Washington for members of Congress to gather information. The event is a subcommittee hearing of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, which studies issues ranging from health care to training to retirement security and how they impact schools and businesses.
This is the first time at least in modern history such a hearing has been held in Greenfield, and people at city hall don’t really know what to expect.
“We’ve never had that many congressmen in Greenfield,” said Mayor Chuck Fewell.
The city was chosen because it is in Messer’s district, and Messer has been vocal about his opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The setup of the Greenfield council chamber is also conducive to such a hearing because the room is similar to a hearing room in the Capitol.
Chuck Anderson, the mayor’s assistant, said they’ve been asked to also set aside two conference rooms: one for Republicans and one for Democrats, to convene before and after the hearing. Two Greenfield police officers will also be on hand for security.
“I think the big thing is, they don’t know how many people are coming,” said Police Chief John Jester.
Called “The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces,” the hearing is expected to last up to three hours.
There will be a total of eight witnesses called to testify: four on how the law has affected their school, and four representing businesses. Though witnesses will likely come from the 6th Congressional District, which includes Hancock County, or elsewhere in Indiana, that is not a requirement.
Republicans and Democrats are allowed to call their own witnesses, but as of press time neither party had released its complete list. One of the Republicans’ witnesses however, is Danny Tanoos, superintendent of the Vigo County School Corporation.
Tanoos said he testified before the IRS in 2013 about the Affordable Care Act. The school corporation had to cut the hours of support staff such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers because the school system couldn’t afford to provide insurance to everyone who worked more than 30 hours a week, as is required under the health-care law.
Tanoos said cutbacks have reduced what the school system can offer to its students. Field trips have been reduced to one per grade level, for example. While the school corporation decided to pay a higher hourly rate to support staff to make up for the cut in time, he hopes members of Congress will be willing to listen to his story Thursday and see how the law is affecting students.
“We have to learn about the issues of people, their circumstances, their needs and really try to make a bipartisan effort to look at this in a reasonable way and say, ‘Let’s take care of the people who are the most in need and give their jobs back to they way they had before,’” Tanoos said.
Rokita, who represents Indiana’s 4th District, said in an email that the hearing will also highlight how the law is affecting colleges and universities.
“Increased health-care costs are leading to reduced jobs and opportunity for even educators and students, whom cutbacks also affect,” he said.
The public is invited to attend the event, which will also be streamed live at edworkforce.house.gov. Fewell, who will make opening comments, said he’s pleased the hearing is coming to city hall for the community to get a taste for how Congress works.
“For someone who’s never been to a congressional hearing, this will be as close to home as it’ll be rather than going to D.C.,” he said.
COMMITTEE TESTIMONY IN GREENFIELD
What: “The Effects of the President’s Health Care Law on Indiana’s Classrooms and Workplaces,” a congressional field hearing of the Committee on Education and the Workforce
When: 10 a.m. Thursday
Where: Greenfield City Hall
Details: A subcommittee on health, employment, labor and pensions will hear from eight witnesses on how the Affordable Care Act impacts Hoosier schools and businesses. At least five members of Congress are expected to be in attendance. Four are from Indiana, including Rep. Luke Messer, who represents Hancock County.
More online: the event, which is expected to last up to three hours, will be streamed live at edworkforce.house.gov