(Indiana) Republicans’ LGBT protections bill draws criticism on both sides

(Yesterday GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal suspended his campaign as noted here. – Admin.) IndyStar.com By Tony Cook, Stephanie Wang and Chelsea Schneider 11/17/15 Republicans unveil sexual orientation, gender identity bill In the opening salvo of what is likely to be … Continue reading

Goshen, Indiana is a flashpoint in LGBT rights fight

Battle in small town signals upcoming statewide debate How a small Indiana city became a gay rights battleground IndyStar.com By Stephanie Wang 8/3/15 GOSHEN — In a cradle of conservatism about 150 miles northeast of Indianapolis, a powerful lobbyist stood … Continue reading

Crumbling roads creep up as issue, gas tax revenues keep falling

The Journal Gazette (Ft. Wayne, IN) By Niki Kelly 5/3/15 INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers tackled a lot of issues in 2015 but not the one plaguing Indiana’s roads, bridges and infrastructure: lack of money. Instead, that will be the primary focus … Continue reading

The 8 days since “Religious Freedom” passage March 26th: ANALYSIS & REFLECTION

Today the Indianapolis Star published a six page spread examining the multi-faceted upheavel that was triggered by the Indiana Legislature upon the original passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when signed by Governor Mike Pence on March 26, 2015.
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Sign: “No Gays Allowed” – Does Indiana law allow this? GOP leadership responds

This morning Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and President Pro Tem of the Indiana State Senate David Long met with the press for about 27 minutes and responded to questions. The following 75 second clip from the press conference includes a questioner asked if putting a “No Gays Allowed” sign up in a window would be against current Indiana law and Bosma answered and also referred to a “human rights ordinance.” Also, David Long commented, “We don’t support discrimination against anyone in this state.”

The entire 27 minute press conference is below.

Your thoughts from analyzing the entire press conference?

What should Indiana do?

Guest column: More than an elected office at stake in attack on Ritz

(Minor editing was done for readability. – Admin.)

John Gregg

John Gregg is a Democrat who served as speaker of the Indiana House and president of Vincennes University.

Special to The StatehouseFile.com
Guest Column
By John Gregg
2/10/15

On a cold January morning in 2001, I stood outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC with my two sons, then ages 8 and 7 to witness the inauguration of President George W. Bush.

As the ceremony began, my older son asked me “Dad why are we here, we’re Democrats?” As the crowd around us looked, then laughed, I told my sons we were there to witness the something uniquely American: the peaceful transfer of power. Americans may disagree with a candidate’s political philosophy, but we always respect the outcome of an election. It’s a bedrock principle of our great democracy.

In November of 2012, I experienced this up close and personal. After a long and hard fought election for governor, Hoosier voters chose Mike Pence over me. And while he certainly wasn’t my first choice, I accepted the decision and respected the will of the majority.

In that same election, Hoosiers made another choice. In very clear fashion, voters said they didn’t like what incumbent Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett was doing to public education in Indiana. They voted him out and voted Glenda Ritz in.

The governor and Republican majority in the Statehouse did not like, nor respect Superintendent Ritz’s hard earned victory. And, while they can’t undo the results of the actual election, through power grab after power grab they are doing essentially the same thing – and that’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous.

If the governor and the Republicans in the General Assembly want to make the superintendent an appointed position or make any other changes to the Department of Education, let’s have a public discussion about them that includes all the interested parties. Ramming these major changes through without public input just because you don’t like the voter’s choice is no way to make sound public policy or instill confidence in state government.

Our country and our system of government works because of that time honored idea of a peaceful transfer of power from one person to the next and, in some cases, one political party to another.  Unlike so many other countries, we don’t have riots, revolutions or violence. We hold faith in the process and the people’s vote.

And when you don’t like the policy or people in a particular office, you don’t attempt a coup or refuse to accept their legitimacy to hold office; you get ready for the next election and work to vote them out.

The tactics on display in the Indiana Statehouse to neuter a duly elected office holder on personal and political grounds are a gross subversion of our most basic democratic principles. And, regardless of your political party or your position on the issues facing Indiana schools, all Hoosiers should also be alarmed.

John Gregg is a Democrat and former speaker of the Indiana House. He’s also a former president of Vincennes University and ran for governor in 2012.

State House votes to strip Ritz of board chair

(Vote results for all House members on HB 1609 are here. –  Admin.)

The Journal Gazette (Ft. Wayne)
By Niki Kelly
2/9/15

INDIANAPOLIS — The elected Superintendent of Public Instruction would no longer automatically chair the State Board of Education under a bill passed 58-40 by Republicans in the Indiana House on Monday.

Twelve Republicans voted against the measure, along with 28 Democrats.

More than a dozen House members intensely debated House Bill 1609 for about an hour. It would allow the 11 members of the board — including the superintendent — to elect their own chairman.

“It has now gone from dysfunctional to detrimental for students,” said GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma, who said he has spent two years serving as almost a full-time mediator between the Republican-dominated board and Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

“It doesn’t rob anyone of power.”

The vote came after Ritz supporters staged a “Twitter Storm” Sunday by flooding social media with comments in support — all hashtagged #iStandWithRitz.

And a public spat about ISTEP testing length between Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence exploded just hours before the vote — providing another example of problems for GOP members to point to.

But Democrats said Ritz was elected by 1.3 million voters and one of the key parts of her job is to chair the board. Taking away that major role in the middle of her term is unfair, they said.

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath compared Republicans supporting the measure to a schoolyard bully.

“What is it that you are afraid of? This one lone Democratic voice?” he said. “Show restraint. Respect the voices of the voters.”

Northeast Indiana had two Republicans vote against the measure — Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen, and Rep. Christopher Judy, R-Fort Wayne.

“I was sent here to represent my constituents,” Nisly said. “I’ve heard a good amount from them. This is something in my opinion that should wait until after the next election.”

Judy said he made a commitment to voters in his district that he wouldn’t support a change in governance structure during Ritz’ first term.

“They want to let the election process work.”

The only other area lawmaker to vote no was Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne.

nkelly@jg.net

Gov. Mike Pence proposes expanding vouchers and charter schools

Tony Cook and Stephanie Wang IndyStar.com, 12/4/14 Indiana’s school voucher program is already the broadest in the nation — and now Gov. Mike Pence wants to provide even more money for vouchers. In announcing his legislative agenda Thursday, Pence said … Continue reading