Monday, March 30, 2015

Pence's Private RFRA Signing with Anti-Gay Activists

If anyone tries to claim that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act had nothing to do with discriminating against the LGBT community, share this photo with them and ask why Gov. Pence invited these three anti-gay activists to his private signing ceremony for the bill.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pence Refuses to Answer Whether RFRA Makes Discrimination Legal

Eight times Gov. Mike Pence refused to answer George Stephanopolous's yes/no question about whether the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act makes discrimination against gays and lesbians legal in Indiana during his disastrous appearance this morning on ABC's This Week. And the Governor said that making gays and lesbians a protected class was "not on my agenda." The Governor argued that discrimination was not an issue because "Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination." Case closed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Religious Freedom Act on Hardball

Chris Matthews took on Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Hardball Friday night. You can see it here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sen. Dan Coats Won't Seek Re-Election in 2016

Dan Coats says he won't run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2016: "I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders." Coats's decision inspired speculation on whether his seat could become competitive for Democrats who need to gain just five seats to control the Senate again. Brian Howey notes that Hillary Clinton, who put considerable effort into Indiana in 2008, could focus a spotlight on our state again, which could impact a Senate race. Howey asks, "Could they pull off an Obama and make Indiana competitive?"

Speculation is already gravitating toward Evan Bayh, who has a $10 million war chest from his previous campaign. Coats succeeded Bayh in 2010 when Bayh opted not to seek re-election. Read more here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Religious Freedom/Right to Discriminate Bill Passes House

The House passed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act today on a party-line vote. The bill was a solution in search of a problem, as pointed out by Minority Leader Scott Pelath:
“This is a made up issue. It’s an issue made up for the purpose of being able to go in front of a few Indiana citizens and thump your chest that you stood up for certain social causes. It basically says to a group of people that you’re second rate, you don’t matter, and if you walk into my store, I don’t have to serve you. That is old-fashioned thinking at best. It is dangerous reactionary thinking at worst.”
State Democratic chairman John Zody said the bill legalized discrimination:
“The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act sets us on a dangerous, regressive course, and the ensuing court battles will take away valuable time, money, and effort that should be invested in moving us forward. This is a sad day for Indiana – and sadder still is Gov. Pence’s commitment to sign it into law when it reaches his desk. In fact, it’s disgraceful.”
Read more about the RFRA here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

President Disses Purdue in His NCAA Bracket--Again

Once again President Barack Obama has failed to select Purdue for the Final Four in the NCAA men's basketball tournament! That's seven years in a row! Even worse, he has Purdue losing in the first round to Cinncinnati. At least he didn't pick IU to win any games(he started to but thought better of it and scratched it out).

If want to hear the President explain himself, you can do it at here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sanders Brings a Scientific Perspective to His Politics

On Friday the Purdue Exponent published a profile of Democrat David Sanders who is running for a seat on the West Lafayette City Council. The article focuses on the scientific perspective perspective that Sanders applies to political matters, especially where data are concerned:
“I've been interested for quite some time in the intersection of science and public policy. That’s why I’m interested in politics, because very few people in decision-making positions have scientific experience. On either side of the spectrum, either the left or the right, they listen to lobbyists who tell them what to do, rather than evaluating the data for themselves.”
You can read the whole Exponent profile of David Sanders here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Party Leaders Want a Pence Challenger--Soon!

State Democratic leaders would like to have a Democrat step up as a candidate for governor, in part to serve as a spokesperson for the party who can make Gov. Pence pay some political price for his actions during this legislative session.

“I want someone to step up and take the thing,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath. “We are dedicated to driving message for the middle class here in our legislative caucus. In order to most effectively do that, we need a clear statewide leader. And I want somebody to look at that goal and tackle it.”

Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody agrees: “Time is tight. Everyone who has expressed an interest in running knows that.”

Names being suggested include 2012 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg, former congressman Baron Hill, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, and State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, but none has indicated an intention to run. Pelath says he will not be a candidate.

Read more from the Statehouse File here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Editorial: Pence's Claims of Ignorance on Policy Outcomes Don't Cut It

Yesterday the Kokomo Perspective published a tough assessment of Gov. Pence's leadership. The gist of the editors' argument is that Pence makes policy decisions and when the unpleasant effects of those decisions start to be felt, he claims ignorance. Whether the ignorance is genuine or politically expedient deception is perhaps debatable. Case in point, the longer ISTEP tests:
The latest headline grabber was the enormous length of this year’s ISTEP standardized test. School children were facing 12 hours of examination. The reason for this increase is rooted in Pence’s decision last spring to move Indiana out of the federal Common Core standards in order to develop his own plan.

The results of Indiana’s new standards are yet to be realized, but there is one thing that is remarkably clear. Pence is blissfully unaware of the impact his decisions have on Hoosiers. When the length of the test was revealed, Pence claimed ignorance, stating he learned about it from Indianapolis media. Then, he scrambled to pass the buck to State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz.

What about this says “leadership?” Pence doesn’t know what’s going on with ISTEP despite his intense meddling in public education? Are we supposed to believe that?
Based on this and several other examples of alleged ignorance, the editorial concludes as follows: "The people of Indiana shouldn’t accept Pence’s claims of ignorance. They are dishonest at worst, and indicative of inept leadership at best. We deserve better."

You can read the whole editorial here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Senate Passes Bill to Deny Ritz Board Leadership

The Indiana Senate passed a bill that strips the Superintendent of Public Instruction of her automatic role as chair of the state's Board of Education. (The bill was Senate Bill 1, which gives you an idea of the priority it was given by the governor and his supermajority.) The Senate bill, however, makes some significant changes in the Board's make up. It shrinks the board from 10 to 9, of which only four would be appointed by the governor; other members would be the Superintendent and one appointee each from the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Needless to say, the Governor is less than thrilled that his appointments to the board will shrink from 10 to 4.

The bill passed by the House has no such structural changes to the Board, so the two bills will have to be reconciled and a compromise bill voted on before the session ends. You can be sure that at the end of that process the superintendent's office will have lost the chairmanship of the Board of education that it has held for more than a century.

Buck Creek Senator Brandt Hershman, one of the Senate bill's authors, claimed the bill does not significantly strip power from Ritz: "Hoosiers have an innate sense of fairness. And many of them have been badly and purposely misled about what Senate Bill 1 does. The superintendent remains the superintendent." If Hershman thinks folks with a sense of fairness will think this shameless power play is fair, he probably has another think coming. And who's being misleading when Hershman suggests that SB 1 does not significantly alter the office of Superintendent?

Read more from the J&C here and from the Fort Wayne News Sentinel here.