Thursday, January 29, 2015

Democrats and Federal Acceptance of HIP 2

The New York Times reports that advocates of the Affordable Care Act view the agreement on an expanded Healthy Indiana in lieu of expanded Medicare as a win for the Obama administration, because it could "give other conservative states cover" to participate in the ACA's Medicare expansion. reports that Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane called the HIP 2 approval a “victory for working Hoosiers” but says he’s concerned that Pence left thousands of people without health care coverage who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little for insurance subsidies. Lanane says the plan will drive down premiums for insured Indiana residents and eliminate use of emergency rooms for primary care.

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath said he is thankful low-income Hoosiers no longer will be forced to rely on expensive emergency room care for their health needs, though the resolution took longer than it should have. Pelath said, "While there are countless disagreements over the means to achieve health care affordability, when President Obama and Mike Pence agree, we ought to feel some modest satisfaction, take stock of our future and move forward. Now come the nitty-gritty details of making this work."

Pence also cited the efforts of two Democrats Rep. Pete Visclosky of Merrillville and Sen. Joe Donnelly in helping to persuade the Obama administration to accept HIP 2 as a substitute for Medicare expansion.

Read more from the Northwest Indiana Times here. The best explanation of the ins-and-outs of the agreement is the New York Times article here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pence's State-Run News Service: "Pravda on the Plains"

Yesterday Gov. Mike Pence's office announced that it was launching its own news service called "Just IN," and he has taken a beating in the media, from political foes, and even from political friends. The prospect of a government-run, taxpayer-funded propaganda outlet generated ridicule about "Pravda on the Plains" and "Izvestia in Indiana" on Twitter. Even House Speaker joked about its Soviet quality, as reported in Daily Beast: “I understand the governor has indicated he’s going to be issuing some clarifying remarks, so I’m withholding final judgment until that occurs. In the meantime, just in case, I have had my staff contact Rosetta Stone and I do have a new Russian version that will be coming out shortly.” Bosma ended his phone interview with "“Dasvidaniya!"

Gov. Pence spent much of the day he's intended to be touting his now federally-approved medical insurance plan backtracking from yesterday's announcement of Just IN; see the J&C here. The governor's transparent presidential ambitions have certainly not done much good for Hoosiers, but at least the damage of this blunder is limited to his credibility as presidential timber.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Klinker: Teachers Not Paid Enough

Rep. Sheila Klinker offered a great guest column in the J&C last week noting that Indiana teachers simply aren't paid enough.
"An individual becomes a teacher because of love for teaching and students. However, it is not by the chalkboard alone that one can survive economically these days. Families still need to be fed, clothed and housed. Currently, jobs requiring no advanced education are paying more than the teaching profession, an occupation that shapes the minds of our children and society’s future. There is something wrong with that prioritization."
Many state teachers work second jobs to make ends meet. Effective teachers in poorer school districts don't get raises like their colleagues in more affluent areas. Not only are teachers leaving the profession, they are not entering it to begin with.

To address some of these inequities she has introduced HB 1444 which provides for raises for a teacher's years of service as well as masters degrees or other professional development. You can read Sheila's editorial here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Democrat Files for New Office of West Lafayette City Clerk

Democrat Sana Booker has filed as a candidate for the new office of city clerk for West Lafayette. The new office is a result of West Lafayette's becoming a Class 2 city rather than a Class 3, thanks to last year's annexation. Booker currently works for Board of Public Works and Safety.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Pence and Zoeller Seek to Deny Hoosiers ACA Healthcare Subsidies

Gov. Mike Pence's ideological war against Obamacare is already preventing hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers from being covered by an expanded Medicare while he quibbles with the feds about allowing the comparatively puny Healthy Indiana to substitute for Medicare. Now he and Attorney General Zoeller are working to take away the subsidies that enable about 100,000 Hoosiers to afford health insurance through the Affordable Healthcare Act. These elected officials, who are supposed to work for the welfare of Indiana citizens, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court supporting a lawsuit to deny federal subsidies provided by ACA to individuals purchasing health insurance in states, like Indiana, that opted not to establish a state-run insurance marketplace. It's estimated that 118,000 Indiana residents would lose subsidies valued at about $4,000 person, and would likely lose their health insurance as well. It's pretty clear that Gov. Pence values his ideology more than the welfare of Hoosiers. Read more here.

Candidacy Filings for Lafayette City Council

The following Democrats have filed as city council candidates in the 2015 Lafayette municipal election as of end of business on Thursday, January 15. Candidates have until February 6 to file.

Ron Campbell-District 2
Perry Brown-District 3
Lauren Ahlersmeyer-District 4
Melissa Weast-Williamson-District 5
Bob Downing-District 6
Lon Heide At-Large
Kevin Klinker At-Large
Dewayne Moffitt-At Large

All are incumbents except Dewayne Moffitt.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pence Probably Won't Be Allowed to Run for Governor and President Simultaneously

Thankfully Republican Senator Mike Delph's proposed legislation that would allow Gov. Pence to run simultaneously for president and governor probably won't be taken up in the legislative session. House Speaker Brian Bosma said, "It does not seem to me to be good public policy to give elected officials the opportunity to run for a federal and a state office at the same time." Senate President Pro Tem David Long said it's fine for incumbents to aspire to higher office but they should have to choose: "If running for [higher] office is what I’m going to do and it happens to coincide with the date that I’m running for reelection, you’re going to have to make a choice there." And, of course, there's the question of what would happen if Pence got himself on the ballot as a candidate for governor and president and managed to win both? Read more from Indiana Public Media here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Roswarski and Murray Will Seek Re-Election

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and City Clerk Cindy Murray will seek reelection to a fourth term in their respective offices in the 2015 election cycle. An official announcement will follow on January 21. Mayor Roswarski commented "I feel blessed to be a part of the community where people work together ... and we work to find solutions to difficult problems and move the community forward." Murray observed, "The people in our community are absolutely great, and I can say I've learned a lot over the last 11 years." Read more from the J&C here.

House Leader Scott Pelath Lays Out Democrats' Priorities for Session

Monday, January 5, 2015

The 2015 Legislative Session: Contrasting Priorities

The 2015 General Assembly session starts tomorrow, another session dominated by a Republican supermajority. In a recent column Indy Star political analyst Matthew Tully calls these sessions an "annual exercise in frustration" because of "distractions and small-ball initiatives, and priorities so misplaced that you have to wonder if some of our lawmakers realize what an honor it is to serve in the Statehouse." To illustrate he cites Republican initiatives such as Sen. Scott Schneider's "religious freedom bill" that would allow business owners and others to deny service to people with whom they disagree, such as same sex couples who want wedding-related services or to adopt a child. Also, he cites Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse's proposed legislation requiring public high school students to pass a civics test similar to the one taken by immigrants seeking citizenship.

By contrast, the Democratic legislative agenda laid out today by House Minority Leader Scott Pelath seems to reflect the real concerns of Hoosiers. On education, Democratic priorities include expanding the state's pre-kindergarten pilot program, making kindergarten attendance mandatory and capping public college tuition at the rate students pay their first year. After years of tax breaks for businesses, Democrats call for an increase in the minimum wage, as have been enacted in many states already. To improve our political system Democrats will propose nonpartisan redistricting, improved government transparency standards, and stricter legislative ethics requirements. Read more about Democrats' legislative priorities here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nargi Selected for Lafayette City Council Seat

Nancy Nargi has been selected by a caucus of Democratic committeemen to complete the city council term of Steve Meyer, who was elected as judge for Superior Court 2 in November. Nancy has been a teacher at Mayflower school for forty years. You can read more about her appointment to the council from the J&C here.