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.