Monday, December 8, 2014

Attorney General Authorizes Governor to Hire Council to Sue the President

Governor Mike Pence seems to think that he can enhance his presidential cred by spending the state's tax dollars on another frivolous lawsuit, this one against the President of the United States for taking executive action on immigration. To have "standing" for such a suit he has to show that Indiana has been damaged by the President's action. Apparently, in Pence's view, Indiana was irreparably damaged by the the President's "circumventing" Congress in this action, thereby preventing Indiana from having a say in the matter through the votes of its representatives. Oddly, Attorney General Zoeller, who would typically execute the state's suits, is authorizing the Governor to hire outside council.

Local political blogger Doug Masson writes a post that questions the logic for "Gov. Pence to unilaterally bring suit against the President on behalf of Indiana while maintaining his ability to criticize the President for unilateral action on behalf of the United States." in a further irony, a commenter on the blog notes that Pence "criticized the President for circumventing the will of the people (Congress) on the same day that his hand-picked State Board of Education is trying to take out the elected Superintendent and, you know, circumvent the will of the voters."

Donnelly's Bill to Prevent Military Suicides Will Soon Be Enacted

Senator Joe Donnelly has proposed a bill to reduce the number of suicides among military personnel. Since 2001 there have been over 3,0000 suicides in the military, with the fastest rate of growth among National Guard members in the last five years. Donnelly's bill became part of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House last week and expected to be approved by the Senate before the end of the year. Read more about Donnelly's anti-suicide bill from WBAA here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pence Will Propose Legislation to Deny Ritz Leadership of Board of Education

Governor Mike Pence has launched a cynical ploy to strip the State Superintendent of Public Education (or rather that office's current incumbent, Democrat Glenda Ritz) of its traditional leadership of the State Board of Education, but in doing so he also announced the dissolution of the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), a policy-making group that Pence invented to undermine Ritz's office. "I am aware of the controversy that has surrounded this center since its creation," Pence conceded. "Somebody has to take the first step to restore harmony and trust." And then the olive branch got blasted by his announcement that he would pursue legislation to let the Board appoint its own leader rather than the elected Superintendent. He framed it as an apolitical "good government" proposal: "It is time to take the politics out of education in Indiana – or at least out of the State Board of Education – and get back to the business of investing in our schools in ways that prepare our kids for the future that awaits them." Apparently "taking the politics out" consists of denying leadership of the Board to a popularly elected official and transferring all authority to a governor-appointed board.

Ritz's election represents what politics should be at its best. The people were dissatisfied with the educational policies of the Republicans and replaced Tony Bennett with Glenda Ritz to effect a change. Pence and the Republican supermajority have chosen to undermine the clear intent of voters to continue their policies by cynical ploys like this one.

You can read more about Gov.Pence's announcements here and

Thursday, November 20, 2014

President's Speech on Immigration

In case you missed President Obama's powerful and moving speech announcing his new guidelines on enforcement of immigration law, here is in the complete presentation.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pelath Sees Strong Role for Dems in House

Regarding last week's election losses, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath opts for understatement: "Not every election goes as we would like." However, Pelath is upbeat about the role Democrats can play as the minority in the legislature. He says that Democrats have been able to exploit divisions among Republicans to defeat the most conservative proposals. He notes that had it not been for Democratic resistance, Indiana voters would have been voting on a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. Pelath likes how the party is positioned: "We feel very good about the course we have set for the Indiana Democratic party. You know, 2016 is going to be a very, very different election." In the broader universe of voters that come out in a presidential election year, "we’re well positioned to appeal to the center of this state for a new direction," says Pelath. You can read more of Scott Pelath's post-election thoughts here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Congratulations to Local Democratic Candidates

While national and state Democrats weren't faring so well, our local Democrats did very well indeed! Eric Grossman was elected as county assessor over a Republican incumbent. Sheila Klinker will serve as state representative for District 27 for her 17th term. Steve Meyer will serve as judge of Superior Court 2, and Tom Busch will serve as judge of the Circuit Court. And, among Tippecanoe County voters, John Dale came with five percentage points of a well-financed Republican incumbent. That's pretty amazing. Many thanks to all who volunteered to get our voters to the polls and make this possible. Thanks to those who came out to vote in a year with no glamour races at the top of ticket.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Where to Vote

Tippecanoe County uses vote centers so that residents do not have to vote in their home precinct but can vote at any of the 19 vote centers across the county. Vote centers are open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. At the vote center voters must show a valid government-issued photo ID, which can be an Indiana driver’s license or photo ID card, a military or veteran’s ID or a U.S. passport. Here are the vote center locations:

• St. Lawrence Church, 1916 Meharry St., Lafayette

• Faith Community Center, 5526 Indiana 26 East, Lafayette

• Lafayette City Hall, 20 N. Sixth St., Lafayette

• Center@Jenks Rest, 1915 Scott St., Lafayette

• Lafayette Fire Station No. 5, 750 N. Creasy Lane, Lafayette

• Lafayette Shrine Club, 3024 Old Indiana 25 North, Lafayette

• 4-H Fairgrounds, Home Ec Building, 1010 Teal Road, Lafayette

• Eagles Lodge, 3208 S. 18th St., Lafayette

• Evangelical Covenant Church, 3600 S. Ninth St., Lafayette

• The Outpost Catering, 2501 Old U.S. 231, Lafayette

• Purdue Memorial Union, 101 N. Grant St., West Lafayette

• Morton Community Center, 22 N. Chauncey Ave., West Lafayette

• Federated Christian Church, 2400 Sycamore Lane, West Lafayette

• Burtsfield Gymnasium, 1800 N. Salisbury St., West Lafayette

• Calvary Baptist Church, 310 Kalberer Road, West Lafayette

• Wabash Township Fire Station No. 1, 2899 Klondike Road, West Lafayette

• Battle Ground Fire Station, 112 North St., Battle Ground

• Dayton United Methodist, 7201 Wesleyan Drive, Dayton

• Clarks Hill Christian Church, 9510 Pearl St., Clarks Hill

Take a friend or relative with you to vote!

Need a Ride to Vote?

Need a ride to a vote center or know someone who does? We can help with that! Call 423-1457.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Meyer and Busch: Outstanding Candidates for Judge!

Tippecanoe County Democrats are fortunate to have two experienced and eminently qualified candidates running for judge.

Circuit Court candidate Judge Tom Busch has served as Superior Court 2 judge for 12 years and has managed many high-profile cases, most recently Cody Cousin's murder trial. Judge Busch is widely respected by his peers as a model of fairness and efficiency. Judge Busch's webpage is and his Facebook page is

Steve Meyer, candidate for judge of Superior Court 2, has been a prominent attorney in our community for 30 years, 14 of which he served as a public defender. In addition to his distinguished legal career, Steve has taken an active role in the leadership of our community; in addition to serving on many volunteer boards, he has served as an elected city councilman for 24 years and has been the president of the council. Steve is a native of Lafayette with roots in the community that run generations deep. Steve's website is and his Facebook page is

These are truly outstanding candidates of impeccable experience and character who deserve your support. Our community needs judges of their quality. Vote for them by Nov. 4 and encourage your friends!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hockema and the Tea Party's "Fresh Perspective"

Being a card-carrying Tea Party member isn't as stylish as it was a couple of years ago, and maybe that's why Chuck Hockema doesn't bring up that connection much. But if you have any doubts about the matter, take a look at this page on the Lafayette Tea Party web page from April 2012, proclaiming Hockema "a long-time active Citizens in Action/Lafayette Tea Party member."

Generally Hockema has been pretty coy about his positions, emphasizing his so-called "fresh perspective." For example, this from his website: "He will bring a fresh perspective to the statehouse along with a young, energetic voice fighting for District 27." Or this from a different page: "I believe that holding office should be a sacrifice and opportunity to serve, not an entitlement of career politicians. When politicians become too familiar and comfortable with their surroundings, important issues that need attention can go unnoticed. A fresh perspective can make all the difference at our State House."

Hockema's implicit message about his opponent, the irrepressible Sheila Klinker, is not too subtle. And it is demonstrably false. While perhaps no longer youthful, there is no more impassioned and energetic "voice fighting for District 27" than Sheila. No one who has contact with her would say that she she has a sense of entitlement about the office she holds, and no one works harder that her to satisfy her constituents and to earn their support.

With respect to bringing a fresh perspective to the State House, Hockema's Tea Party views are hardly news to the Republican supermajority. It is clearly the down-to-earth pragmatism of Sheila Klinker that provides the "fresh perspective" in the legislature, and, as a respected leader in the House who can work across the aisle, hers is the District 27 voice that can make itself heard and disrupt the Tea Party groupthink.

Vote for Sheila. Remind your friends of what she brings to our district.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rokita Continues to Demagogue Ebola

Back in August Todd Rokita started demagoguing Ebola when he claimed unaccompanied children seeking to enter the United States from Central America might be carrying Ebola; John Dale slapped him down at that time: "His comments were to inflame the public and divide the nation. The purpose of this is to rile people up and get them in a panic."

But you can't keep a good demgogue down. Now Rokita is calling for a complete travel ban to and from West Africa: "I support a ban on flights from infected countries, visa suspensions, as well as stronger screenings at our ports of entry, including airports and border crossings." No epidemiologist shares his view that locking countries down will resolve the problem (although the Governor does).

Incredibly, in the midst of his own demagoguery, Rokita accuses Democrats of the same: "We're in this situation because liberal Democrats are so beholden to political correctness that we can no longer have honest conversations with each other about what needs to be done or what honest ideas are anymore. In the face of this serious crisis, they will still go to political correctness and demagogue this issue."

Really? "Honest ideas" like travel bans will resolve the Ebola problem. And what liberal Democrat-induced "situation" does Rokita reference? The current one where exactly one person has died of Ebola in the US (and he came here with it) and dozens of people who have been held in isolation during the 21-day incubation are being released as Ebola-free?

Rokita needs to be replaced by honest, straight talking John Dale!

Eric Grossman Wants Transparency

Eric Grossman wants to bring transparency to the county's assessing process and to the office of the assessor. He says on his website,
Transparency is crucial; the public wants the ability to reproduce and understand their assessments. We can achieve this by making assessment data available online. It is troublesome that vital property record card, trending and income capitalization data is not readily available to the public. The county has all the resources necessary to conveniently convey assessment information without additional monetary cost. . . If we are to be accountable for the public, we must be accountable to the public.
He wants the assessor's office to be a resource to Tippecanoe County citizens, and has the skills to make that desire a reality.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John Dale Is Here

From John Dale's Facebook page:

I believe our representatives should be responsible, responsive, and representative. None of these adjectives describe our current representative. I live in this district, I raised my family here, I farm here, and I teach here. I am incredibly invested in the well-being of our district and I want nothing more than to improve our district and the lives of those who share my home.

On Monday, Gallup reported that Congress's approval rating is just 16 percent. If that level of support holds through November, it would be the lowest heading into any midterm election on record.

If you're frustrated with Congress, as so many people are, let's not continue to elect the same representatives and expect a different result. We need to hold our congressman accountable. It's time for a change and to get government working for the people again.

Visit John's Facebook page here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Indy Star: Pence Makes Bad Call on Preschool Grant

The editors of the Indianapolis Star are of the opinion that Governor Pence's passing on a potential federal grant of $80 million for Indiana preschools is a bad call. His explanation, they say, is fear of "federal intrusion" into the state's new preschool program and that "Indiana isn't ready for the federal funding because the state's pilot program doesn't launch until January. It's too much money too soon, and with strings attached." The Governor's argument doesn't hold water, says the Star:
But that argument is perplexing given that Indiana had previously applied for the grant; the federal government rejected the state's bid a year ago. And state officials, including several inside the Pence administration, had spent months working on a new application. By all indications, Indiana had an excellent chance this time around of receiving the federal money.
The editors conclude, "[Pence's] sudden step back is a hard blow for the state. And worse, for its children and their families."

When Republican politicians make sudden, unexplained and "perplexing" turns, they are usually catering to their party's far right wing.

Read the Star's editorial here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pence Walks Away from $80M for Indiana Pre-School Initiative

Today Indy Star political reporter Matthew Tully described how Governor Mike Pence surprised the bi-partisan educators he has been working with on a badly needed pre-school initiative by unilaterally deciding to walk away from an $80 million federal grant the group had been aiming at. Tully characterized the governor's decision as "surprise, last-minute and largely unexplained." Members of the Pence-created Early Learning Advisory Committee were informed of the decision not to apply for the grant the FSSA and the Department of Education had been pursuing for a year by an email sent on Wednesday, the day the grant proposal was due. There must have been a lot of disappointment, and puzzlement, over that one.

But maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. Gov. Pence is now doing to Indiana preschoolers what he has been doing for the uninsured in Indiana for over a year: refusing to accept large sums of federal money that would hugely benefit the people of the state he governs to promote his political prospects as a Republican presidential candidate in 2016. If you think Pence's decision isn't political, read his "explanation" of it here: he represents himself as heroically resisting the siren call of federal money with "strings attached" and boldly positioning Indiana to go its own way on pre-school, much as he has been doing by refusing federal medicare funding that would protect hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. He can surely imagine the ads his primary opponents would run against him if he sullied himself with payouts from the demonic hands of Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Indiana's students fall further behind and Indiana's uninsured continue to live in the shadow of ruinous healthcare costs.

Read Matt Tully's reporting here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Could Beat Sheila

Dave Bangert's frontpage column in the J&C speculates on whether Sheila Klinker could lose her race to return as the representative of Indiana House District 27. Bangert does not present any compelling case from her opponent as to why Sheila should be replaced or why he should be the one to do it. It seems likely that the most serious threat to Sheila would be indifference and low turnout, and we can't let that possibility be realized.

We all understand that Sheila is an energetic public servant, a powerful spokesperson for our community, and a skilled, experienced legislator who can work across the aisle. And we know that there is no greater advocate for Indiana children and public schools, and both desperately need a strong advocate in the current environment. Let's be sure to remind Sheila's constituents of all that she brings to the table, and get them to the polls to vote for Sheila and the other great Democratic candidates!

Monday, October 6, 2014

As of Today, Same Sex Marriage Is Legal in Indiana

Today the US Supreme Court indicated that it would not hear appeals of lower court decisions that same sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington and Indiana were unconstitutional. As a result, those rulings stand, the bans are overturned, and same sex marriage is legal in Indiana. It is theoretically possible that the Supreme Court would opt to take up another lower court decision at a later time, but there is no reason to believe, based on dozens of court decisions, that the Court would then declare thousands of marriages illegal.

Most state Republicans are conceding that the battle is done.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said "It is surprising, given the importance of this issue to our society, that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to take up this matter but instead to rely upon lower court rulings. That being said, the court appears to have sent a message that if they ultimately do hear these cases, they will support these lower court rulings and find that same-sex marriage is on equal footing with traditional marriage." Long also said efforts to amend the Indiana Constitution to include a ban on gay marriage were at an end.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller continued to call for the Supreme Court weigh in: "Our nation and all sides involved needed a conclusive Supreme Court ruling to bring finality to the legal question of state authority to adhere to the traditional definition of marriage." But he also conceded that same sex marriage is now the "law of the land" in Indiana and that the county clerks would commence issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples as soon as the Circuit Court lifts the stay.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma declined to comment.

Governor Pence said his office would abide by the court's decision:"Under our system of government, people are free to disagree with court decisions, but we are not free to disobey them."

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath said the Supreme Court ended the debate: "For political purposes, we have squandered nearly a decade of our people's energy on the issue of who loves whom. The gamesmanship has dragged on and on through the past few legislative sessions. But as one court after another has struck down bans on same-sex marriage, the pointlessness of this maelstrom has become even more obvious." With the debate over, Pelath said "Let's move on."

Read about the impact of the Court's decision from the Star here and from the Statehouse File here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

President WIll Speak at Steel Plant in Southern Indiana

On Friday, October 3, President Obama speak at Millennium Steel in Princeton, Indiana as part of Manufacturing Day. The President will speak on the economy and job creation. This will be his first trip to Indiana since 2011. Read more here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why You Need to Vote: Getting Hoosiers to Participate in Democracy

Indiana has the nation's third lowest voter participation. Surely, that is a record both Democrats and Republicans can deplore, but Indiana's Republicans are hell-bent on protecting us from non-existing voter fraud by making it harder to vote. Democrats' candidate for Secretary of State Beth White wants to address that problem in commonsense ways. For example, Indiana is one of only three states that close their polls as early as 6 p.m. White concedes that it would cost a bit more to keep polling places open later, but she thinks that is not as important the increased participation from extended hours. She also notes that other states have used nonpartisan commissions to create more competitive districts and increase voter turnout. Having a Secretary of State who cares about voter participation and runs the state's elections accordingly could make a real difference!

Read more about Beth White's position on voter participation here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why You Need to Vote: Taking Domestic Violence Seriously

Governor Pence took funds budgeted for domestic violence programs by the legislature and put them back into the state's general fund to "save money." Only when the Ray Rice video began to draw attention to the issue did Pence's presidential ambitions inspire him to gradually replace the domestic violence funds. Even though Pence's withdrawing the budgeted domestic violence funds was counter to the will of the legislature, the Republican supermajority wasn't about to fight him on it. Now that the Governor is beginning to dole out some of the earmarked funds, his team is promoting the idea that domestic violence will by 35 percent higher than last year: “At Gov. (Mike) Pence’s direction, applications for these funds will be expedited so they can be made available to shelters as soon as possible,” said Mary Allen, executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The Governor taketh away, the Governor giveth back if there is political advantage to be had. We need to weaken the Republican supermajority so that, even if still in the minority, Democrats can resist Pence's cynical actions and provide consistent protection of Indiana's women against abusers.

Read more about Pence's defunding/funding of domestic violence programs here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bayh Won't Run for Governor--For Sure!

Last Friday Evan Bayh's position on running for Indiana governor in 2016 went from "highly unlikely" to "definitely not." Here's an excerpt from his statement:
“Over the years I've been asked whether I would seek the governorship again. The inquiries and encouragement have accelerated in recent months regarding a possible candidacy in 2016. After serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for governor in 2016. I hope that my decision will enable others to step forward and offer their ideas for making Indiana an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
You can read more about Bayh's decision here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What Is Indiana Spending to Defend the Gay Marriage Ban?

State Democratic chairman John Zody has submitted a public records request asking state Attorney General Greg Zoeller for information about how much the of the state's tax dollars are being spent to defend the ban on same sex marriage in the courts. At a time when funding is being cut for state agencies, Zody argues, it seems questionable "to keep fighting on an issue that we are seeing nationwide is becoming less of an issue.” Read more about Zody's request here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Court of Appeals Rules Against Indiana's and Wisconsin's Gay Marriage Bans

Today the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana; the three-judge panel was unanimous in their ruling. Judge Richard Posner, a Republican appointee, called the states' arguments in defense of the bans "totally implausible." The outspoken judge continued
"Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure."
Undeterred, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he will seek a suspension of the appeals court ruling pending a quick decision from the Supreme Court. This despite the fact that more than 30 courts have ruled in favor of gay marriage since the Supreme Court gutted the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mourdock Resigns to Maximize His Pension

Last week state treasurer Richard Mourdock announced that he was stepping down from his office just months before his term expires. The reason? Evidently a new law, which went into effect the day after he announced his resignation, would have reduced his pension somewhat. When he learned of its impact from a retirement counselor, Mourdock reported to the Evansville Courier Press that “it caused me to think about it differently.” Political analyst Lesley Widenbener found Mourdock's decision "disappointing":

Mourdock has made a career out of lecturing voters about the importance of being a good citizen. He’s used history and public policy and fiery rhetoric to tell Hoosiers why they should vote, why they should be concerned about the state and the nation’s spending and debt, and why they should hold their political leaders accountable.

And along the way he’s made controversial decisions in the name of doing what’s right for Indiana. Most notably, he sued to stop the Obama administration from bailing out Chrysler, a move he said cheated the state, which had invested in the company. He took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court – where he lost – even as his critics complained that the state had to spend millions on the suit and that winning could have cost Indiana even more – thousands of jobs if Chrysler had gone under.

Mourdock maintained throughout the situation that he was simply trying to do what was right – and doing so was more important than doing what was popular.

This week, Mourdock did the opposite. Rather than doing what’s right – finishing a job voters elected him to do – Mourdock made a selfish decision for his own economic future.

You can read Weidenbener's analysis from the Statehouse File here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are You Registered to Vote?

The election is getting close and one thing we know is we will need every supporters vote out there to win. One of the worst feelings in the world is when a person goes to vote, and finds out they are not registered or have not updated their registration. Please do not let this happen to you or to your friends who are supporters. It only takes a few seconds to check out. Simply go to IndianaVoters Home and confirm you are registered! Please share this link and message with your friends.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Indiana Higher Ed Takes Another Cut Despite $2 Billion in Reserve

Governor Mike Pence is requiring Indiana's public colleges and universities, as well as other state agencies, to put two percent of their state funds into reserve despite the state's current $2 billion in the reserve fund. State Budget Director Brian Bailey said public universities could eventually receive all the money allocated by lawmakers if tax revenue meets projections for most of the year. This comes as lawmakers have been discussing increasing higher education funding to avoid possible tuition increases. And how about a little love for the state's "good" university, Purdue, that is going into its third year of a tuition freeze? Read more from Indiana Public Media here.

Garden Party for Candidates

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hear Mayor Roswarski Interviewed on Ask the Mayor

You can hear WBAA's half-hour Ask the Mayor interview with Mayor Roswarski from last Thursday here. The Mayor fields questions on crime in Lafayette, Amtrak, Lafayettte's homeless population, and downtown development.

John Dale at Java Roaster

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gregg Will Match Gifts to House Election Fund

According to the Indiana House Democrats' Facebook page, John Gregg has offered to double all individual contributions (up to $5,000) to the Indiana House Democrats for the next 30 days. There's never been a better time to contribute to the effort to win back the House. As of today 387 supporters had donated $14,212. The House contribution website is here.

Mayor Roswarski on Ask the Mayor

Mayor Tony Roswarski will be this week's guest on WBAA's Ask the Mayor program on Thursday at noon on AM 920. The program is rebroadcast the same evening at 6 on both AM 920 and 101.3 FM.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hoggset Appears to Set to Run for Indy Mayor

Having resigned his position as US attorney, Joe Hoggset appears ready to make a run at the mayoral race in Indianapolis. When asked if Hoggset will run, his political ally, Evan Bayh, responded, "I hope so. . . . I think he would be a great mayor, particularly given his record on fighting crime." Bayh also indicated that he would support Hoggset's campaign with some of his leftover senate campaign money. Hoggset is a former Indiana Secretary of State and Democratic Party chair. Indianapolis Star political analyst Matthew Tully says Hoggset's entry would "change everything" in the race because of his popularity with the party's base and his strong stance on crime, a problem that has plagued Indianapolis under Republican mayor Greg Ballard.

You can read Matthew Tully's analysis of Hogsett's entry into the race here.

WL Councilman Eddie vanBogaert Steps Down

West Lafayette Democratic City Councilman Eddie vanBogaert has resigned his position to pursue career opportunities in the Chicago area. His replacement for the First District is Nick Deboer, appointed by Democratic County Chair Heather Maddox. A stalwart for the Party, vanBogaert's departure is a loss for the local political scene.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dale Calls Rokita Out on Ebola Fear-Mongering

Todd Rokita is fear-mongering by suggesting that the 245 immigrant children being temporarily housed in Indiana may be bringing the Ebola virus into the state, a preposterous claim for which there is no factual justification. His Democratic opponent in the 2014 elections, John Dale has rightly called him out on the tactic: ""His comments were to inflame the public and divide the nation. The purpose of this is to rile people up and get them in a panic."

Reporting from Maureen Groppe reports the following:

The nonpartisan fact-checking site investigated the claim and reported that the CDC and independent epidemiologists say there's "zero evidence that these migrants are carrying the virus to the border."

The CDC has received no reports of a human Ebola infection in the Western Hemisphere, according to

The site quoted Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, as saying that anyone with the virus would be too sick to make it to the U.S. border on foot.

Read Groppe's article from the J&C here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bayh to Lead CIA Panel on Senate Computer Hack

In the wake of CIA Director John Brennan's admission that CIA operatives had hacked Senate computers being used in the investigation of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques in the George W. Bush administration, Evan Bayh will lead a board to recommend recommend steps the CIA should take after its internal investigation of the matter. Bayh serves on a CIA advisory board and as a US senator served on the Senate intelligence panel for 10 years. You can read more from the J&C here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lawsuit Against State School Board Can Proceed

A Marion County judge has cleared the way for a lawsuit against the state Board of Education to move forward. The suit argues that the Board had violated the state's open meetings laws by conducting an email discussion of changes in who calculates the state's "A-F" school grades. Read more here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mayor Roswarski Interviewed on New WBAA Program

You can hear Mayor Tony Roswarski interviewed for a half hour on WBAA's new Ask the Mayor program here. The mayor fields questions on same sex marriage, a single-entry agency to address homeless issues in Tippecanoe County, and other matters. Mayor Roswarski will be a regular guest on the weekly program that airs live Thursdays at noon on WBAA News (AM 920) and is rebroadcast the same evening at 6 on both AM 920 and 101.3 FM.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hoosier Opinions Change But Radical Right-Wing Republicans Don't

A great editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette argues that progressives don't need to spend their energies trying to change the hearts and minds of Hoosiers on such issues as same sex marriage, gun control, and immigration; state polling already shows a shift in public opinion on such issues. There just haven't not been any commensurate changes in Republican politicians:
What’s not changing is the resistance of Indiana elected officials to recognize those changes, a resistance affecting not just gay marriage but dozens of issues held hostage by an ultra-conservative faction effectively employing its electoral clout. Until more moderate voices do the same, Indiana will continue to waste time on divisive issues that hamper its economic progress.
The editorial concludes that progressives need to focus on getting people to the polls: "If Indiana is ever to escape the quagmire of divisive and backward cultural issues, moderate and progressive voices need to spend less time changing hearts and minds and more time registering voters and getting them to the polls." Amen to that. You can read the entire op-ed here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Democrats Slate Six Candidates for Local Offices

Saturday's caucus resulted in the slating of six Democratic candidates for county and township offices. They include the following:

• Thomas Busch will run for Circuit Court judge against Republican Les Meade.

• Eric Grossman is the Tippecanoe County assessor candidate against Republican Linda Phillips.

• Michael Childress is slated for the Wea Township Board

• Michael Oxenrider is slated for the Wabash Township Board.

• Larry Funk is the confirmed candidate for the Lauramie Township Board.

• Ashley Smith is slated for the Fairfield Township Board.

Party chair Heather Maddox says, “We’re very excited about these candidates. It’s a great group of people. They’re solid people from top to bottom.”

The Journal and Courier ran a story about Eric Grossman's experience for the assessor office; read it here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stay Granted on Overturning of Same Sex Marriage Prohibition in Indiana

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's request a stay of Judge Richard Young's overturning of Indiana's same sex marriage law was granted by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago pending appeal to the Supreme Court. Several similar rulings have been handed down by federal courts in the past several months (all of them ruling that same sex prohibition violates equal rights and equal protection), so it seems likely that the Supreme Court will provide a ruling in the foreseeable future.

However, the stay leaves same sex couples who have been granted marriage licenses and were married during the time when it was legal in Indiana in a kind of legal limbo; read more about it from USA Today here. Sunday's op-ed by the Journal and Courier's editorial staff was headlined "Why Not Today on Same Sex Marriage?" Why not indeed. The J&C editorial concludes, "The biggest winners here are those who understood that the institution of marriage changed not one iota on Wednesday in a state where same-sex couples also are allowed the equal rights and equal protections marriage offers."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Indiana Ban on Same Sex Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional!

On the same day that a federal appellate court ruled against the Utah ban on same sex marriages, Indiana U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana's law was unconstitutional. In his ruling, Young wrote that “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.” He goes on to say that, "In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as (the) plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage." And Judge Young notes that he has never seen a phenomenon in the federal court system like the same sex marriage cases, all of which have been decided in favor of the same sex couples. You can read all of Judge Young's ruling in Dave Bangert's column in the Journal and Courier here.

Meanwhile dozens of same sex couples rushed to their county clerks' offices to obtain a marriage license and to get married. You can see video footage of Indiana's first same sex marriage from the Journal and Courier here.

Meanwhile Indiana Public Media reports that Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey says she believes the court ruling only applies to counties named in the lawsuit. “I regret that I am upsetting some citizens of the county but I do take an oath, as I said, to uphold the law and at this moment I am not aware that the law has changed for Tippecanoe County,” Coffey says. The Journal and Courier has video of her explaining that the she can't issue licenses because the forms still contain the terms "bride" and "groom."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Group Will Educate About Same Sex Marriage

A new group, Hoosiers Unite for Marriage, will launch a statewide campaign to promote the right to marry for same sex couples. Freedom Indiana helped to defer the Indiana constitutional amendment on marriage, but its goal is only to prevent the adoption of the constitutional amendment. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Hoosiers Unite can't be directly involved in political or legislative work. "Our mission is really to educate the public and engage with the public," Megrath said. "As long as people are having these conversations at this critical mass, we want to make sure people are hearing really good and powerful stories." The group will focus on sharing the stories of same sex couple who are disadvantaged by the state's stance. Read more here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pelath Says Dems Will Use Data to Combat Extremism

Democratic House minority leader Scott Pelath says in an op-ed that the Republican Party has become an extremist organization under the control of the Tea Party. To combat that extremism, Pelath says state Democrats should view that situation that situation as "an opportunity for Indiana’s Democrats to show ourselves as the party that is in touch with working families and values hard work." Pelath says Democrats will use the same "big data" analytic tools that have brought victories on the national stage. Data will be the basis upon which field organizers will deploy trained local volunteers to "reach the voters who are most impacted by Indiana Republicans’ restrictive Tea Party agenda." Read Pelath's entire op-ed here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mourdock: US Going the Way of Nazi Germany

Republican state treasurer Richard Mourdock has a gift for saying offensive things that upset people, as when he famously said that when a woman becomes pregnant by rape “it is something that God intended.” Now, in what we can only hope is his swan song in public life, he has insisted to the State Republican convention that the US is headed towards become a Fascist state because of its state of "bankruptcy." He set up a lengthy analogy to the Nazi takeover of Germany. Many were offended, including some Republicans. But how did the audience at the Republican convention receive his remarks? With a standing ovation. Read more about Mourdock's remarks here.

John Krull of Franklin College notes that Mourdock is wrong about most every point he makes, including that Hitler was elected into office by the German people. But more importantly he is wrong about the US fiscal condition:

The U.S. government’s debt as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product has begun to decline – and even at its peak was below the debt-to-GDP ratios of most other developed nations, including Japan, Great Britain and Germany. It also is not as high as it has been at other times in our history.

The fact that the debt-to-GDP ratio is even as high as it is a product of our decisions, during the early 2000s, to launch into two expensive wars – one of them ill-advised – and give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Those tax cuts never delivered the promised economic boom. The tax rates for most Americans, particularly the most wealthy, are at the lowest level since the late 1940s, something grievance junkies such as Mourdock never acknowledge.

And the bulk of our debt is held not by others, but by us – by American citizens and corporations.
Read Krull's full remarks here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Republican Platform Doubles Down on Marriage

They debated the language of a marriage plank in the Republican platform, considered some "softer" versions, but in the end writers of the Indiana Republican platform opted for the most radical formulation of their position, one that calls that calls marriage between a man and woman the “foundation of society.” It was the only platform plank that did not receive unanimous approval. In 2012 the party opted not to include a marriage plank in its platform, but, in response to the faltering of the Indiana constitutional amendment and the wave of states legalizing same sex marriage, the party has opted to double down on its uncompromising insistence that only heterosexuals have a right to marry. Read more here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Analyst: Pence's Presidential Resume Is Thin

Indiana political analyst Lesley Weidenbener thinks Gov. Mike Pence's presidential resume is pretty thin. His accomplishments, says Weidenbener, are "either not making tremendous impact on Hoosiers or can’t wholly be attributed to his administration." For example, she considers Pence's claims to be a taxcutter from the national perspective and then from the Indiana perspective:

National perspective: Pence cut the inheritance tax, business property taxes, the corporate income tax and individual income taxes, while keeping the state’s budget in the black.

Indiana perspective: Pence’s tax cut proposals were largely scaled back or rejected outright by a Republican-dominated state legislature. Lawmakers were already cutting the inheritance tax. The Senate insisted on the corporate income tax cut, which Pence had not requested. The individual income tax cut, which is half of what Pence requested, has yet to take effect and will eventually slice the tax burden for the average household by only about $75. And no part of the business tax cut will occur unless local officials approve it. Plus, most of the financial hit for the state budget will come in future years.

Read Weidenbener's whole analysis here.

Judy O'Bannon Introduces Auditor Candidate Mike Claytor

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will John Gregg Run for Governor?

Will John Gregg, Democratic candidate for governor in 2012 who lost to Mike Pence by only a few points, run again in 2016? Shown here with Tippecanoe County party chair Heather Maddox at last weekend's state convention, Gregg seemed to imply that he would according to The State House File:
"As he looked down at the many Democrats wearing mustache stickers, the logo of his last campaign – Gregg all but confirmed he would run for governor again in 2016. The Sandborn native said he looked forward to working with Democrats until the 2014 Election Day 'and beyond' – and then he offered the cheering crowd a big, exaggerated wink."

Read the rest of the Statehouse File's coverage of the convention here.

Dems Nominate Three for State Offices at Convention

At their state convention last weekend, Indiana Democrats nominated three candidates for statewide office. They are from left to right: Mike Boland, State Treasurer candidate; Beth White, Secretary of State candidate; Mike Claytor, Auditor of State candidate.

“I’m really excited about the Indiana Democratic Party’s statewide ticket,” said Chairman John Zody. “These candidates have one thing in common – they all have experience in the areas in which the office they’re running for governs. The other side can’t say that, regardless of who they select. Hoosiers have seen what happens when one party controls everything – the party infighting and personal politics trumps helping Hoosiers. We can and must do better.”

You can read more about the candidates here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

President Obama's Remarks at the Opening of the 9/11 Museum

Judge Busch Will Run for Circuit Court

Judge Thomas Busch, a Democrat who presides over Tippecanoe County Superior Court 2, will run for Circuit Court judge in the general election. He will oppose Republican Les Meade who is currently judge of Superior Court 5. Judge Busch had announced his intention to retire from Superior Court 2 and had not sought renomination in the primary. Read more from the J&C here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Marriage Amendment a Political Albatross for Pence in 2016?

Brian Howey wrote an interesting analysis of the political fallout of the removal of the "second sentence" from the proposed same-sex constitutional amendment. Howey notes that Gov. Pence wanted the referendum vote that is required for constitutional amendments to occur in this year's election. He does not want to have the referendum on the ballot when he runs for re-election in 2016. He will be pressed by very conservative "family coalitions" to back "the amendment for the year when he could seek re-election. Pence administration sources have indicated to me that they view support for the marriage amendment to be eroding, and that the emphasis on 2015 will be on the biennial budget." Two more years of rapidly evolving views on same-sex marriage might make that a very uncomfortable position for Gov. Pence, even in Indiana! Maybe he'll just decide to run for president. Read Howey's column here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

North White School Board Votes to Arm School Administrators

The just-ended General Assembly passed a bill (just signed by the governor) that allows firearms to be kept in automobiles parked on public school property. Now just a few miles north of here the board of the North White School Corporation voted unanimously that its school administrators should be armed. And they won't be packing just any weapons up in Monon--they'll be toting concealed semi-automatic guns. Armed school personnel will be required to attend of two annual training exercises, a six-hour session on firearm basics and a 40-hour course on crisis management and defensive tactics; they'll also be subject to annual psychological evaluations. Board president Shannon Mattix said "We heard from both sides on the argument. Basically, as a board, we stuck with facts and statistics over emotion. It's an emotional issue." Read more from the J&C here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Three State Republican Incumbents Lose Seats

It's unusual for incumbents to lose their seats in a primary, but three Republican legislators managed it in Tuesday's primary. Sen. John Waterman lost largely due to his vote against the "right to work" bill in 2012. Reps.Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse and Kathy Heuer of Huntington lost to more conservative candidates because they voted against inclusion of the "second sentence" of the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment that would have also banned any same-sex civil unions. Read about Waterman's loss here, and about Kubacki's and Heuer's here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Congratulations John Dale!

John Dale defeated four other Democratic candidates to be the candidate for Indiana's 4th Congressional District, currently occupied by Todd Rokita. You can view some video of Dale after the election from the Journal Courier here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is Gov. Pence Poised to Run for President?

Though it may be hard for Democrats to fathom why Gov. Mike Pence would get serious consideration as a presidential candidate, it's a meme that keeps cropping up. Brian Howey put together a column on the topic, and the departure of his long-time chief of staff to form a political consulting firm was interpreted as possible harbinger of presidential ambitions. Now no less than US News is interpreting Pence's somewhat subdued presentation to the NRA convention in Indianapolis last week as the sounds of a man trying to keep his presidential options open. One thing Democrats might agree on though is that Pence's being in the 2016 field as presidential candidate rather than as gubernatorial one would be a good thing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Costs for New State Education Standards Could Be $125 Million

Now that Indiana's new educational standards have been approved by the State Board and Indiana has become the first state to formally break with the Common Core, we're starting hear about the costs involved in this endeavor. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency found that the costs could run as high as $125 million. This at a time when schools have taken significant budget hits. Read more here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Purdue a Possible Site for 2016 Presidential Debate?

With President Mitch Daniels on the 2016 Presidential Debate Commission, the talk is already swirling around Purdue as a possible site for a presidential debate. This idea surfaced in 2010 with respect to a 2012 debate, but never seemed to find much traction. While Elliott Hall would appear to be a logical place for a debate, there are certain logistical problems (such as lack of a place to accommodate the world-wide press corps who cover the debates). And there's cost, which appears to be in the $5 million range. Pres. Daniels sounds pretty tentative--"It’s an expensive thing to do. I’m far from sure we’d want to do it"--but he doesn't seem to have ruled out the possibility. Read more from the J&C here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Judge Requires Indiana's Recognition of Couple's Same Sex Marriage--For Now

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young in Evansville granted same sex couple Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler a temporary restraining order forcing Indiana to recognize their marriage which took place last year in Massachusetts. The circumstances are unfortunate: Quasney and Sandler argue that they have an urgent need for their marriage to be recognized because Quasney is in the late stages of cancer. As the News Sentinel describes it, their brief argues that "if the state listed Quasney as unmarried it would interfere with Sandler's ability to take care of her partner's affairs after her death, and to access the safety net generally available to a surviving spouse and the children of the person who has died." The restraining order expires on May 8. Four other court cases involving Indiana same sex couples are pending. Read more from the News Sentinel here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Donnelly and Collins Join Forces on 40-Hour Work Week Senate Bill

Moderate Democrat Joe Donnelly and moderate Republican Susan Collins are jointly sponsoring a Senate bill that would amend the Affordable Care Act's 30-hour per week definition of full-time employment back to the almost universally accepted 40 hours. The House just passed a similar bill on a bipartisan vote. The ACA 30-hour work week has been an element that has made healthcare reform difficult for businesses to manage; Collins and Donnelly say they know of businesses that have manipulated their employees' hours to avoid the full-time status which requires the provision of insurance. The fate of the bipartisan bill in the Senate is unknown, but it does show Donnelly's skill at identifying moderate positions that can appeal to both sides and that can enhance the acceptance of ACA. Read more about the bipartisan bill here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Five Suits Challenge Indiana Marriage Laws; Zoeller Prepared to Defend Laws

Five same sex couples have filed suits challenging Indiana's marriage laws; you can read profiles of the couples from the Indy Star here. The Star concludes its article noting that there have been recent successes for such suits: "Since December, federal courts have struck down state laws in Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and Utah banning same-sex marriages or prohibiting the recognition of similar unions performed in the more than 15 states where they are legal."

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that State Attorney General Greg Zoeller is prepared to defend Indiana's laws and views such suits as part of the process: "There ought to be some opportunity to make sure that the Legislature has got it right -- did it violate the Constitution, did it impinge on people's civil liberties? This is part of the process to bring the courts in to review, to make sure the statutes we have in place are constitutional."

In contrast Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway has told Talking Points Memo that he will not defend his state's same sex marriage laws:
"I thought long and hard. I thought about the arc of history," he said. "I thought about the fact that at one time in this country we discriminated against women. At one time we discriminated against African-Americans and people of color. At one time we discriminated against those with disabilities. This is the last minority group in this country that a significant portion of our population thinks it's OK to still discriminate against in any way. And I didn't think that was right."
The Washington Post reports that seven state attorneys general have chosen not to defend their state's same sex marriage laws

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pelath Sees Lost Opportunities in Legislative Session

Democratic House leader Scott Pelath analyzes the recently ended General Assembly as one of wsted opportunities in an editorial in the Northwest Indiana Times. Republican leadership, says Pelath, used its supermajoriy to push their usual agenda:
"Our leaders are selling soap we've bought before. Cutting corporate taxes ... again. Cutting bank taxes ... again. And the free toaster in the deal? Forcing Indiana counties to race each other to slash the business personal property tax.

On the other hand, consumers, workers and individual taxpayers — who already bear most of Indiana’s tax burden — are not guaranteed much in return for hundreds of millions in lost revenue. In a state that already has a top 10 business tax climate, there is no evidence these changes will prompt anyone to add a single job or raise a single worker’s wage."

Pelath particularly regrets the drawn-out same-sex marriage debate: "[We] all wish we could forget the one issue that sucked the air out of this session from its start: the continued insistence on putting the people of this state through an ugly, divisive debate on who can marry whom in Indiana."

You can read Pelath's commentary here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


If you're looking for inspiration or guidance in completing your NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket, here is President Obama completing his on ESPN, as he has done every year of his presidency.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Suit Challenges Indiana's Same-Sex Marriage Statute

A suit is being brought against Indiana's statute on same-sex marriage by four couples arguing that the state's law refusing to recognize legally married same sex couples from other states violates the U.S. constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Their suit says that Indiana “has no rational, legitimate, or compelling state interest in treating same-sex couples any differently from opposite-sex couples.”

It also claims that marriage is a fundamental right and that the U.S. constitution requires it to be recognized across states: “Same-sex spouses who have entered into legal marriages in other jurisdictions have a reasonable expectation that they will continue to be protected by the rights and protections conferred by marriage when they relocate to another state.”

In the past year similar suits have been won in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah. (It's worth noting that an Indiana constitutional amendment could be overturned if it was found to violate the US constitution, as happened in Oklahoma and Utah.) Read more from the Statehouse File here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hershman Bill Prevents Already-Prohibited Joint Tax Filing by Same-Sex Couples

Sen. Brandt Hershman, who represents parts of the Greater Lafayette area, sponsored a bill that deleted a state tax provision that would have inadvertently allowed same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns in Indiana. It passed the Senate 41-6. Indiana code currently prohibits joint filings by gay couples. “This only codifies current practice. This is not piling on or anything like that." So why is additional action needed? Probably for the same reason we need a constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriages that are already illegal in Indiana by statute. Read more about Hershman's bill from the Indy Star here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pence Agenda Not Faring Well in General Assembly

With the current session of the Indiana General Assembly drawing to a close, it appears Gov. Mike Pence's legislative agenda has not fared particularly well, even with Republican supermajorities in both the senate and the house. Here's how the Indy Star's political reporters Tony Cook and Barb Berggoetz describe the status of Pence's major initiatives:

With just two weeks left in the session, his preschool voucher program could be headed for a summer study committee, his efforts to phase out a key business tax have received only token support, and Senate Republicans have cut in half his request for $400 million in highway funding.

Other Pence proposals also have encountered problems.

He wanted to offer stipends to teachers willing to work at low-performing schools, but a Senate committee stripped funding from that proposal. He wanted to increase family income tax exemptions with inflation, but that idea is stalled in another Senate committee. And he wanted to create a fund to reward innovative teachers, a proposal that didn't even get an initial hearing.

IPFW political scientist Andy Downs thinks things are not going well for Pence. "You would expect him to have a far better track record. I think it's safe to say he's not having a particularly good year. You might say he took on way too aggressive an agenda and is paying the price now." Downs thinks this lack of major accomplishments will impact Pence's presidential ambitions.

Read the Star's complete analysis of Pence's legislative agenda here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

HJR-3 Passes Senate

The proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Indiana passed the state Senate by a vote of 32 to 17. Five Republicans joined 12 Democrats in voting against it. The Senate did not restore the second sentence of the original amendment, which banned any benefits for civil unions, which means that the amendment must be approved by another session of the General Assembly before any ratification vote by citizens. Thus, amendment will not be part of the 2014 election ballot; the soonest it could appear would be the 2016 ballot.

Megan Robertson, campaign director of Freedom Indiana, said, “We can finally breathe a collective sign of relief that lawmakers are finished with the amendment this session and it will not appear on the ballot this November.” Robertson said the amendment's opponents were "underdogs" and expressed pride in their efforts: "Our success reflects the strength of the incredible coalition we were able to build in just six months." Read more about the vote from the J&C here.

A footnote: Senator Mike Delph, an HJR-3 supporter who'd been tweeting incessantly about it and the failure of Republicans to retain the second sentence, had promised a surprising announcement today, and delivered one in an impromptu news conference before the vote: he said he would vote against the amendment if the second sentence was not restored. It wasn't and he did. Delph explained, "The can keeps getting kicked down the road while culture change grows. The state of Indiana needs to bring this issue to closure once and for all. We shouldn't put the state through this debate for the next several years." Sadly, 32 of his colleagues did not agree, and we'll confront this issue again in the next General Assembly, but hopefully in the context of the powerful "culture change" Sen. Delph seems to fear. Read more about Delph's position here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Delph Tweets on HJR-3: Right to Marry Is a "Modern Perversion"

State Senator Mike Delph appears to be having a Twitter meltdown on the uncertain status of HJR-3 resulting from our "self absorbed Godless culture that is fast tracking our nation to ruin." Then he tweeted about the idea of a right to marry: "Natural rights come from God and govts. are instituted amongst men to protect those rights. Same God as in the Holy Bible. But the liberal view of rights to clean water, air, a decent job, a house, car, health benefits is a modern perversion." Senator Delph tweeted that on Monday morning he will make an announcement "that you won't want to miss," presumably related to this matter. Read WRTV's reporting here.

Rokita Call Debt Ceiling Increase "Surrender"

Some semblance of rationality has finally prevailed in Congress regarding the debt ceiling debate; House Speaker John Boehner put forward a "clean" increase in the debt ceiling that would prevent us from having this absurd debate for at least a year. Of course, the Speaker had to rely on Democrats to move the bill through, and most Republicans voted against it. Todd Rokita, however, had to grandstand with an op-ed decrying the bill, putting forth the discredited argument that failure to raise the debt ceiling would not result in a default. You can argue that the debt is bad and that the federal government spends too much, but raising the debt ceiling is about paying for expenses the government has already incurred, as the President always reminds us. "A clean debt-ceiling increase is a surrender to short-term political considerations," says Rep. Rokita. You can read Rokita's op-ed here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

No Amendment to Restore Second Sentence of HJR-3; No Ratification Vote Till 2016

Opponents of the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage experienced a major victory today. The Senate was prepared to consider an amendment to restore the second sentence of HJR-3 that had been removed by the House; the second sentence have abolished any benefits for same sex couples. However, no one proposed a restoration amendment. HJR-3 will pass the Senate on Monday, but because it has been changed from last year, any ratification vote on it won't occur until 2016. Given the rate of change in public opinion on gay marriage, it seems unlikely that voters will have an appetite for such a change to the constitution in two years.

Opponents of the HJR-3 cheered on hearing that no amendment was proposed. Megan Robertson of Freedom Indiana told the crowd, “Give yourselves a big round of applause, because you just beat it!” Read more from WISH reported Jim Shella here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Study: Eliminating Business Equipment Tax Won't Attract New Businesses

A study by the the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute suggests that eliminating the business equipment tax, Gov. Pence's gift to the business community, will not have any of the advertised impacts. It won't create an incentive for business to relocate in Indiana and would cause significant revenue losses to already strapped local governments. And it would cause home owners' property taxes to jump 7.3 percent. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roswarski Grows Lafayette's Rainy Day Fund

Under Mayor Tony Roswarski's stewardship, the City of Lafayette's rainy day fund has grown from $11,421 balance when he took office in 2004 (with the city $3.5 million in debt) to $2.8 million today, ten years later. “I have consciously tried to find ways to reach the accounting recommendation to have 10 percent of the general fund budget set aside,” Roswarski said. Read more from the J&C here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rules Committee Sends HJR-3 to the Senate Floor Without Changes

The Senate's Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee voted 8 to 4 to pass HJR-3 on for a vote on the Senate floor with no changes. Though the amendment's second sentence, banning any form of civil union or extension of benefits to same sex couples, was eliminated from the bill by the House and not restored by the Rules Committee. It could be restored on the Senate floor. Read more about the vote from Indiana Public Media here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Alting will Vote Against HJR-3

Republican Senator Ron Alting says he will vote against HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Indiana. A past supporter of the measure, Alting says the climate has changed on this issue:
"My goodness, this vote go-around, compared to years ago, probably is 10 to 1 of my constituents . . . that are totally against this. Why be a senator that’s going to show, not only to your constituents that you’re voting against their will, but to the rest of the country that you believe that Indiana is one that has very little respect for diversity and tolerance of other people?”
Read more about Altings's change of heart in Dave Bangert's column in the J&C here.

Plenty of Competition for Rokita in District 4

Five Democrats are competing to unseat Toff Rokita from the Fourth Congressional District seat he now holds: John Dale of Tippecanoe County, Howard Joseph Pollchik of Montgomery County, Jeffrey Oliver Blaydes of Putnam County, and John L. Futrell and Roger D. Day of Hendricks County. In addition Rokita has Republican primary challenger, J. Grant of West Lafayette. Nominees for the two parties will be decided in the May primary.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

John Dale Announces Candidacy for District 4 Representative

Western Boone US history teacher John Dale has announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination as representative for Indiana's Fourth Congressional District. His entry into politics was inspired by the 2012 government shutdown supported by District 4 incumbent Todd Rokita: “I called (Rokita) and said ‘You’re not doing your job. Your job is to keep the country running.’" Dale said. You can read more about his announcement here and visit his Facebook page here.

Shiela Klinker Will Run for 17th Term

Rep. Shiela Klinker has announced that she will seek a seventeenth term in representing District 27. Mayor Tony Roswarski said, "She takes that real spirit of cooperation, that spirit of working across the aisle, that spirit of trying to find solutions to problems at the Statehouse." Read J&C coverage here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ritz Visits Tornado-Damaged Schools, Praises Progress

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz visited tornado-damaged TSC schools, Mintonya Elementary and Southwestern Middle School on Monday.  She praised the schools' handling of the difficult circumstances:“I’m very pleased with how things are going and making sure that kids are getting what they need.” Read more from the J&C here and from WLFI here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Truitt-Proposed Change to HJR-3 Passes; House Passes Amendment

A bipartisan majority in the Indiana House voted for an amendment proposed by Rep. Randy Truitt to strip the controversial second sentence from HJR-3, the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Indiana.  Twenty-three Republicans joined 29 Democrats to pass Truitt's amendment, 52-43.  By changing the amendment, it effectively becomes a new bill and will have to be voted on twice by different sessions of the General Assembly before it can be passed to the voters in a referendum.

This delay does more than kick the can down the road.  Public sentiment is swinging away from measures like HJR-3.  Even in our own state, 30 of the Republican representatives who voted for the amendment in 2011 have said they would vote against it or were wavering now.  By 2016, the earliest the amendment could be on the ballot, even more voters will have changed their minds.  It is also thought that Gov. Pence does not want that referendum on the ballot when he is trying to get himself re-elected!

Today the House passed the modified HJR-3 57-40.  The 57 were all Republicans.  Eleven Republicans--including Randy Truitt--voted no, as did  all 29 Democrats.  Read more about the vote here.

Read about the change to HJR-3 from Indiana Public Media here. You can read Dave Bangert's analysis of the political impact of the change to the amendment here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Truitt Will Vote Against HJR-3

Journal and Courier columnist Dave Bangert reports that Republican Representative Randy Truitt, whose district includes most of West Lafayette, will vote against the same sex marriage amendment because of reservation about the second sentence of the amendment. It reads "A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized." The concern, widespread even among Republicans, is that this provision will revoke benefits already provided to same sex couples by Indiana businesses and institutions. Truitt calls the sentence "a red-hot poker" and doesn't think it is appropriate in the constitution. Truitt had voted for the amendment in 2011. The article notes that Attica Representative Sharon Negele has voiced similar concerns, but hasn't indicated how she will vote. A vote may come to the House floor as early as Monday. Read the J&C article here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Committee Gets Bosma His Vote on HJR-3 in Less than 24 Hours

Yesterday House Speaker Brian Bosma moved HJR-3, the same sex marriage amendment, from the consideration of the House Judiciary Committee, with its three wavering Republicans, to the Elections and Apportionment Committee. The amendment certainly seems outside the committee's scope, but it did exactly what Speaker Bosma wanted: after a quick four-hour hearing, it approved the amendment for consideration by the full House on a partisan 9 to 3 vote. No waverers there! You can read more about Bosma's maneuvers here.

In an impassioned op-ed, Indianapolis Star columnist Erika Smith, voiced her anger at Speaker Bosma's action:
"Betrayal and disgust. There’s really no other way to feel about his decision to rig the results of the vote by moving HJR-3 from the Judiciary Committee to the Elections Committee. His decision was a stomach-churning display of misplaced power, pride and pigheadedness."
Smith argues that after the passions that were expressed by voters at last week's hearing and after it became clear that he would not get vote he wanted from his own party members, moving the bill to another committee cynically circumvented the legislative process:
"Instead of allowing the legislative process to run its course and accepting that opponents of the amendment had prevailed, Bosma changed the rules. Instead of allowing the Judiciary Committee to make the decision, he ordered a committee with members more likely to vote the way he wanted them to vote to handle the amendment instead. Bosma’s decision not only covered up his gross miscalculation of how lawmakers in his own party would vote, it also tarnished the entire legislative process."
You can read Smith entire column here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bosma Considers Replacing Republican Wavering Judiciary Committee Members

House Speaker Brian Bosma has indicated that he might replace three Republican Judiciary Committee members who appear to be wavering on voting for HJR-3, the same sex marriage amendment, so that he can get the amendment through the committee and to a vote on the floor. Bosma says the House rules allow him to replace committee members at will, though he concedes that he's only seen it done once in his 28-years in the House. Opponents consider the committee their best opportunity to untrack the amendment. A vote is expected by Wednesday. Read more here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Freedom Indiana Blasts the "Companion Bill"

Freedom Indiana, the bipartisan group opposing the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, issued a statement on the so-called "companion bill" offered by House Republicans to clarify the meaning of the amendment. Freedom Indiana observes that "the amendment is 12 lines. The companion bill is 73 lines. Explaining the amendment shouldn’t take six times as many words as the amendment itself."

They feel the bill is a recognition that "the language they want to permanently insert into our state’s founding document is deeply flawed." But instead of addressing the amendment's problems, "they’re trying to sidestep and obfuscate the process by introducing a bill they think explains away the potential harm to Hoosier families."

The solution Freedom Indiana supports? "Either scrap the current language and start over, or better yet, admit that our Constitution is not the proper place to have this debate."

You can read the entire statement from Freedom Indiana here. The Evansville Courier Press has a good article on the politics of the companion bill here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Republicans Propose "Companion Bill" to Explain the Intent of Marriage Amendment

The latest wrinkle in the unfolding drama of HJR-3 is the addition of a "companion" bill (House Bill 1153) that will accompany the proposed constitutional amendment to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. The proposed bill is to "clarify" the amendment by stating that its intent "is not to deny employer health benefits to same-sex couples or to circumvent local ordinances that forbid discrimination."

Republicans have claimed that the amendment would not affect the benefits already being provided by many Indiana institutions and businesses, but that would seem to beg the question of why the companion bill is necessary. It would seem to make more sense to modify the amendment, but that would reset the clock and force the amendment to be voted on by the legislature again in two separate sessions. That, in turn, would delay the public referendum vote by years, and Republicans know public opinion is swinging away from their position quickly.

IU law professor Jennifer Drobac says, "This is bad lawmaking. These lawmakers should know what they’re doing." Republican lawmakers might concede that no decently written amendment should need a companion bill to explain it, but they think their inelegant solution may get them what they want: to lock their ideology into the state's constitution before it is inevitably overtaken by more progressive views.

Read more from the J&C here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Republicans Make Marriage Amendment the First Bill Considered; Freedom Indiana Plans Rallies

Freedom Indiana informs us that House Republicans have pushed HJR-3 (HJR-6 as of yesterday) to the front of the Judiciary Committee's agenda--on Monday at 10 a.m. it will become the first bill considered. Slating it this way is a clear indication of its central place in the Republican agenda, but also hints that they think they need a vote fast because momentum is building against the amendment.

Freedom Indiana is planning to demonstrate Hoosier opposition to the amendment at 10 a.m. on Monday at the Capitol and at a rally at 6 p.m. If you can attend, please RSVP to Freedom Indiana for the 10 a.m event here and for the 6 p.m event here.

Rokita Backs Aid for Tornado-Struck Indiana Counties After Opposing Hurricane Sandy Aid

You would expect Rep. Todd Rokita to support Governor Pence's request for emergency support for Indiana counties affected by November's tornadoes. After all, he represents some of the included counties (Boone, Daviess, Fountain, Grant, Howard, and Tippecanoe). And, in fact, he signed a letter to the President supporting the Governor's request, along with other Indiana legislators.

That is all expected and proper, except for the fact that Rokita pointedly did not extend that same compassion to the victims of Hurricane Sandy just a year ago, voting against the aid on the principle that it was wrong to "pass an unpaid-for disaster bill, further victimizing the children of tomorrow," as he explained in a statement. If it comes to a vote in the House, will Rep. Rokita would apply the heartless logic to his own constituents that he applied to East Coast victims of Sandy?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Some Republican Legislators Look Iffy on the Pence Agenda

After a day's delay for the snowstorm, the Indiana General Assembly got underway today. The J&C interviewed some local legislators about some of the major issues that are part of the Governor's agenda for this session. HJR-6, the constitutional amendment that declares "Only a marriage between (1) one man and (1) one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana," gets most of the attention, which largely revolves around Republicans hedging their bets.

The strongest favorable argument presented (by Rep. Tim Brown of Crawfordsville and Sen. Brandt Hershman) was "letting the people decide" through the referendum that would occur if the amendment passes both houses for a second time. Randy Truitt of West Lafayette and Sharon Negele of Attica voice concern about the amendment's second sentence: "A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized." They note that this provision potentially conflicts with the same sex partnership benefits provided by many Indiana institutions (like Purdue) and companies. Sheila Klinker, who has opposed HJR-6 all along, also notes that discrepancy.

The other two issues covered are pre-K vouchers and the Governor's proposed elimination of business personal property taxes. The tax change is difficult because already strained local governments have relied on its revenues, and, as Republican Tim Brown puts it "it’s hard to say to a county that has its budget in place that we’re going to pull the rug out from under them." Likewise, the expense of pre-K vouchers would be a stretch in current economic conditions; Klinker and Brown expect funding would be limited.

Looks Gov. Pence's agenda might be an uphill push. Stay tuned. Read the J&C article here.