Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Senate Recess Donnelly Visits Lafayette

During a two-week recess in the Senate session, Joe Donnelly came to Lafayette yesterday to talk about budgets and other matters. Donnelly said he'd like to see more action on infrastructure: “My biggest concern, honestly, is having funding ... (because) today infrastructure is not a luxury item ... it is part of our core mission. The infrastructure is not something that we can decide to do or not to do. We have to do, because if we don’t, it’s not just a business decision, it’s a safety decision.” He spoke about gay rights in its economic context: “I want Indiana to be a welcoming place. We’re competing for talent in a (global) market.” Read more about his visit from the J&C here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Show Your Support for Gay Marriage Rights

You can show your support for gay marriage rights by copying the equality symbol below and making it your Facebook profile picture. You'll see it all over Facebook.

Bosma/Pence Rift Over Taxes Heats Up

The rift between Gov. Pence and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma over the Governor's proposal for cutting state income taxes seems to be intensifying. The Governor's proposal has not been included in either the House or Senate budgets that are moving forward. The Governor has aggressively pushed his agenda and, as the Journal and Courier describes, and a "concurrent ad campaign launched by tea partyers Americans for Prosperity against House Republicans has only angered Bosma and other Republican lawmakers." Matters seemed to come to head at a fund-raiser last week where Gov. Pence pushed for his agenda in a 20-minute speech which he concluded with a plea for civility: "Let me say from my heart, especially to my friends and allies, near and far: We will not build up our state by tearing each other down. It is essential that we stay positive in advocating our positions.” That seems not to have sat well with Speaker Bosma, who responded rather pointedly: "I was going to start off with saying ‘I’m from Americans for Prosperity and I’m just here to help.'" Ouch. Read the whole story from the here.

Senate Republican Leader Kenley Resists Expansion of Vouchers

The chair of the Indiana Senate's Appropriations Committee thinks there should be a five-year moratorium on further growth of the state's voucher program. Republican Senator Luke Kenley is resisting a bill that would remove the requirement that students attend public schools for at least a year before using a voucher to attend a private school and other measures that would loosen restrictions on vouchers. Kenley says, “This is an almost cataclysmic change. Shouldn’t we give it a rest for five years and study to see if the use of public funds to send kids to private schools has produced a positive result?” Read more from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette here.

The editors of the Journal Courier support Kenley's "slow down" approach, asking "Has Indiana given vouchers enough time to see whether they’re working the way they’re supposed to work? Perhaps even more important: Has Indiana given enough time to see that the voucher system holds up in court?" (The Indiana Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of the voucher program.) Read the editorial here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Indiana Supreme Court Rules Vouchers Constitutional

In a 5-0 vote, Indiana's Supreme Court found the nation's broadest voucher program to be in keeping with the Indiana state constitution, rejecting the argument that the voucher program illegally benefited religious schools. The decision clears the road for expansion of the program as proposed by Republican legislators. It appears the Republican "supermajority" in Indiana extends the the state's judicial branch. Read more about the decision here. Below is WLFI of reactions to the ruling.

Passions about voucher program higher after Supreme Court's decision

Lawmakers sound off on school voucher program being upheld

Bloomberg-Backed Mayors Against Illegal Guns Targets Indiana for Ads

Featuring a hunter cradling his rifle on the back of his pickup truck, the ad below looks like it might have been produced by the NRA. It wasn't. It was produced by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 900 mayors from around the country, and funded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. You'll probably see this ad on your television because the group has targeted Indiana and a dozen other states where opinion on background checks may be mixed. The ads promote only universal background checks, a proposal that, according to polls, is supported by nearly 90 percent of Americans. Supporters of these measures should contact their representative and senators. If the ad does not appear below, click here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zody Elected as State Democratic Chair

John Zody has been elected to a four-year term as the chair of Indiana's Democratic Party, replacing Dan Parker. Zody was former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill's chief of staff, worked for Governor's O'Bannon and Kernan, and ran President Barack Obama's 2012 election team for the midwest. He was supported by Sen Joe Donnelly. Below is WRTV coverage of Zody's election. If the video does not appear below, click here.

President Retweets Yoko Ono's Gun Control Message

On Wednesday President Obama retweeted a picture posted by Yoko Ono, widow of murdered ex-Beatle John Lennon, with the following message: "Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980." You can see Ono's Twitter post here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mayor Urges Earth Hour Observances

Mayor Tony Roswarski is encouraging Lafayette residents to observe Earth Hour turn by turning off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday. He says in an official proclamation, “I encourage all City of Lafayette residents to make a global statement of concern about climate change. Demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions by turning off all non-essential lights during this time.” Read more about Earth Hour observances here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Sound of One Man Clapping: A Chilly Response for Pence's Tax Proposal

Governor Pence got a reasonably warm welcome from local government leaders assembled for the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns' annual rally at the statehouse. Except when he got to the part about the 10 percent cut in state income tax he's pushing. As reported by Tom LoBianco for Associated Press, that proposal fell with a thud.
Members of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns applauded Pence’s Statehouse speech when he talked about economic development and technology training. But when he turned to the tax cut, only one person clapped. “That’s why I’m advocating we lower the income tax, across the board by 10 percent, for every Hoosier in the city and on the farm, on a permanent basis,” Pence said to almost complete silence. He followed by saying. “I know we might have some disagreement on this from some in this organization, apparently not all.”
Apparently Pence and one other guy are in favor of this cut. Why can't the Governor let it go? Probably because he thinks it buffs his presidential cred.
Read the full story here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baracketology 2013

It's March Madness time and, in what has become an annual ritual, the President makes his choices the NCAA men's basketball bracket on ESPN. He confesses to a strong Big Ten bias, and you could do a lot worse than that this year. Purdue fans may not be delighted with his choice for the championship, however. If you don't see a video below, click here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Moms For Gun Sense Takes Off in Lafayette

If a video doesn't appear below, click here to see WLFI coverage of the inaugural meeting of a Lafayette chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

'Moms Demand Action' chapter organizes

This Doesn't Look Like Kansas, Toto--or Does It?

Kokomo Tribune columnist Maureen Hayden has written a story about a Tea Party Republican governor with presidential ambitions who decides to slash the state’s income tax rate but is resisted by legislative leaders from his own party. A governor who is not Mike Pence but Kansas governor former-senator Sam Brownback. Last year, with the help from Koch brothers money (sound familiar?), Brownback actually got his way and tanked the Kansas economy. Brownback's income tax cuts have left Kansas with a debt that is projected to hit $2.5 billion by 2018. Like Indiana, Kansas is legally prohibited from running a debt, so Brownback is now proposing serious cuts in services. Hayden cites the following:
In January, a Kansas court ruled that Brownback’s education budget was unconstitutional and ordered the governor to boost school funding by $400 million. The court said it was “illogical” for the state to argue that it couldn’t adequately fund schools at the same time it slashed income taxes.
Such shenanigans have left Brownback at a 15 percent approval rating just a year before he is up for re-election. It's an informative read, one that should be shared with Republican friends who think it's outrageous that Gov. Pence is being denied his tax cut!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pelath Amendment to Prevent Governors from Becoming University Presidents Too Soon Fails

House minority leader Scott Pelath proposed an amendment to a bill that would have required a governor to be out of office for a year before assuming the presidency of a state university.  Pelath expressed confidence that Mitch Daniels would be a good president for Purdue, but said his selection sixth months before he left office set a "horrible precedent." The House membership rejected the proposed amendment 65-28.  See J&C coverage here.

Among the 28 votes in favor was Shiela Klinker's, though her vote apparently reflected her position as the Party's Assistant Whip rather than her personal views.  

Klinker divided on Daniels' proposal

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Donnelly Responds to Portman's Change on Gay Marriage

Last week Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio became the first Republican senator to declare his support for gay marriage.  On Friday Sen. Joe Donnelly commented on Portman's change of heart and his own position on gay marriage to WANE television in Fort Wayne.  Here is what WANE reported:
"Donnelly, a Democrat, has said he is against legalizing same-sex marriage, but he does agree that gay people should have certain rights.
'I believe that our friends who are gay have the opportunity to have a wonderful fulfilling life that they can have benefits for their partners and so I stand with Rob on much of this.'"
Should we infer that Sen. Donnelly is prepared to support civil unions? You can read WANE's entire coverage of Donnelly's comments  here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Koch Brothers Attempt to Bail Out Pence Tax Cut

Everyone's favorite right-wing billionaires, the Koch Brothers, are attempting to bail out the agenda of their guy Gov. Mike Pence with an Americans for Prosperity media blitz supporting Pence's plan for 10 percent reduction in Indiana's state income tax. Republican legislators have not included it in their budget, and for pretty good reasons. An editorial in the J&C explains:
For the most part, the governor’s plan has been shrugged off as key lawmakers look at using surpluses to restore funding for schools and highways — and to look for other taxes to cut. The concern in the Indiana House and Senate is that the Pence plan, while it plays well on a campaign trail, isn’t necessarily sustainable in the long run.
The editorial observes that the intervention by Americans for Prosperity doesn't speak well for Gov. Pence's leadership:
Pence has been virtually silent, almost rudderless, in his first three months. So the first big splash is going to come from a political action group funded by out-of-state interests? That can’t be playing well at the Statehouse, now or over the long haul. What will Hoosiers get out of this ad campaign? That their governor has a lot to learn about leading this state.
Read the editorial here.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Leadership Team for Tippecanoe County Democrats

Here are the newly elected members of the Tippecanoe County Democratic Party's Central Committee. From left to right, they are Brad Rhorer, Vice Chair; Heather Maddox, Chair; Michael Childress,Secretary, and Eddie VanBogaert, Treasurer.

At the meeting Heather Maddox, entering her third four-year term as chair, observed that the party is strong in Tippecanoe County. In the last election cycle, more Democratic votes were cast than Republican, and the county voted for John Gregg as governor, Joe Donnelly for senator, and Sheila Klinker as state representative. President Obama did well, but did not carry the county. She noted that the county's demographics and its attitudes are changing, so there is an opportunity for growth. To take advantage of changes, she says the Party must build its funding model, try to expand its base, and refine its use of technology. She thinks the new young leadership team will bring the fresh ideas and energy to accomplish much.

Treasurer Eddie VanBogaert said we need to develop funding so that our candidates will be viable. He also feels that demographics give Democrats opportunities to win positions in County elections.

The team was elected with a unanimous vote.

State Social Services Anticipate Sequester Hits

The one piece of good news for Indiana coming out of the sequester implementation is that unemployment benefits won't be cut immediately, meaning that 32,000 Hoosiers will continue to receive a benefit. Social services may not be so lucky. Head Start may have to eliminate services for about 1,000 children. Meals on Wheels would lose about $820,000. “That might mean that we aren’t able to start new people on the service,” said Orion Bell, president of CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, which oversees government funds for programs in central Indiana. About 500 people would not receive domestic violence services because the majority of funds come from the federal government, according to Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She says Indiana's domestic violence programs and shelters in Indiana are already turning people away. You can read more here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

If Lafayette Can Do It, Why Can't the Feds?

The Journal and Courier ran an editorial yesterday noting that the city of Lafayette just refinanced some of its bonds to lower their 3.75 to 6 percent interest to something nearer 2 percent. Saving money, making our tax dollars work better. The editors observe that such "meat-and-potatoes savings" get obscured in the shadow of the looming $85 billion federal cut from the sequester. The message from the federal government's inability to avoid the meat cleaver cuts of the sequester sends a message: "Our government is not capable of cinching the belt." By contrast, the work Lafayette City Hall is doing "doesn’t amount to lopping off popular programs to make a point. It’s about finding ways to make better use of tax dollars. If Mayor Tony Roswarski can find ways to do this, why can’t the federal government?" Read the editorial here.