On April 14th an event was held to bring the public up to speed on events and trends in Washington D.C. The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce organized this episode of a reoccurring event called a Federal Focus Luncheon. This “Federal Focus Luncheon” featured many speakers, but former Indiana Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh took the stage for most of the event. Bayh centered on his experience in the U.S. senate and the way federal trends will affect local politics. The event was recorded on location at President’s Hall on IU’s campus, by Community Access Television Services, for Standing Room Only on WFHB.
Tag Archives: Politics
A second reading of House Joint Resolution 3 on the Senate floor today was without incident. If the Senate adopts the resolution on its third reading next Monday, it will reconcile with the amended version that came out of the House, and provide that only marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana.
This matches current Indiana law, which also states that marriage is only legally recognized in heterosexual couples, but the proposed constitutional amendment would be a much more permanent statement forbidding gay marriage in Indiana.
The second reading of a proposed bill or resolution is the point when amendments can be made, and it was uncertain if republicans would offer an amendment trying to reinstate the second sentence of the original resolution that the house of representatives deleted earlier this year.
District 40 Senator Mark Stoops says he was confident that reinserting the second sentence would be defeated. However, there were other aspects to the reading that were surprising.
“The fact that they chose not to call the amendment at all was a real surprise,” Stoops says “It was a very strange session in that HJR-3 was called for the second reading and then there was silence. Everyone waited to hear if the amendment was going to be called and it wasn’t. That was the end.”
The 2014 legislative session has centered around HJR-3. Chambers of commerce, education institutions, and politicians statewide have joined civil rights advocates in voicing their dissent for the resolution.
“I’m sure what happened is that it became completely obvious to the Republican caucus that there were not enough votes for the second sentence,” Stoops says, “They didn’t want to get beaten up further on that bill. I think a lot of Republicans are pretty embarrassed that this bill is moving forward.”
Governor Mike Pence has supported the effort to amend the constitution in regards to marriage in Indiana, and called for it to be on the 2014 ballot. The soonest HJR3 would not be sent to referendum is 2016 – if the general assembly at the time adopts it exactly as it is stated now. Stoops speculates that Pence will try to avoid timing the ratification with his reelection.
“Governor Pence wanted this HJR-3 on the ballot in 2014 because he didn’t want it pushed until 2016 because he’s running for reelection that year,” Stoops says, “He knows that it’s a device of issue and that it will pull a lot of independents and democrats out to vote who might not normally have voted, which means he’d probably lose the reelection.”
Stoops predicted the third reading of HJR-3 will occur on Monday.
Senator Brent Steele’s proposal to amend Indiana’s constitution to guarantee residents the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife passed on a 43 to 4 vote by the full Senate on Monday.
Steele’s Joint Resolution 9 provides that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage, and should be preserved for the public good. SJR-9 states that hunting and fishing are the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.
This constitutional amendment does not limit the application of any law relating to trespass or property rights. 17 other states over the past several years have added the constitutional right to hunt and fish.
The Indiana government, along with seven other states, is considering bills in 2014 that propose the creation of a state constitutional amendment to protect the same right.
SJR-9 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
State legislators representing the Monroe County area gave their views on more than a dozen pieces of proposed legislation at a forum last Saturday.
The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County, which holds monthly legislative updates when the state legislature is in session.
State Senator Mark Stoops, as well as representatives Bob Heaton, Peggy Mayfield, Matt Pierce, and Eric Koch participated. The group was asked first about HJR-3, the measure to ban same-sex marriage in the Indiana Constitution. The question came from Bloomington resident Trish Kerle, who is also a host on the WFHB program Interchange.
“It is illegal to destroy a gun in Indiana, but it’s not illegal to limit a woman’s right to choose, nor to limit the rights of two adults to marry if they are the same gender,” Kerle said, “My question is to the representatives who voted in favor of HJR-3. What specific evidence do you have that my marriage to my partner will be detrimental to you or any of your constituents?”
Like many other issues, the support for the marriage amendment broke down along party lines.
The three Republicans — Heaton, Mayfield and Koch — all voted for the amendment. Heaton said he only wants to give voters the chance to decide on the issue in a referendum, which is required before an amendment can pass.
“As far as with you and your partner, I don’t care what two individuals do in their home,” Heaton said, “I’m being consistent with my message in that I will let the people to vote for it, or not, come this fall.”
Kerle tried to press Heaton further, because he didn’t provide the evidence she asked for, but the moderator stopped her.
Koch and Mayfield also declined to answer the question, saying it didn’t apply to the current debate over HJR-3.
“This question is not what the debate surrounding HJR-3 is about,” Koch said, “We’ve had a definition of marriage since the 80’s, that’s current law. The discussion surrounding HJR-3 is whether the people of Indiana should be able to use a mechanism given to them in their constitution to prevent that law from being overturned by the judicial branch, by unelected judges. So, the policy has been in place since the 1980’s, and that’s not what this discussion is about.”
Mayfield added that the process the amendment is going through is the topic of the discussion, not its merits or lacktherof.
The marriage amendment has passed the House of Representatives, but a portion of the text was removed. Unless the Senate changes the language back to its original form, the measure won’t be on the ballot next year.
The legislators were also asked about a bill that would require drug testing for people receiving benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Pierce opposed the bill, and he said similar measures in other states have been expensive and have led to very little discovered drug use.
“The saddest thing for me, is that I think the bill is based on an attempt to drum up the worst stereotypes people have about those on public assistance,” Pierce said, “Most people on public assistance are working hard, and they are the exact people my Republican friends like because they are out working hard and not just waiting for a hand-out. They are trying to get ahead.”
Heaton defended his support for the bill, saying he recently surveyed his constituents about the issue.
“The question was, ‘Do you believe Indiana, like some other states, should submit random drug testing as a requirement in receiving government assistance,” Heaton said, “81 percent said yes, and I know you don’t like to hear that, but that’s just who I represent and who I vote on behalf of.”
Karen Green-Stone, from Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, asked the group about Medicaid expansion. So far Indiana has declined federal funding offered through the Affordable Care Act, which would expand Medicaid coverage to approximately 350,000 people who have incomes too low to afford insurance through the federal exchange. Stoops said the state loses millions of dollars a day by refusing the expansion.
“In a state where we have high unemployment rates still, we are actually turning our back on 30,000 healthcare and other related jobs that this Medicaid expansion would have brought to Indiana,” Stoops said.
Mayfield did not say she was opposed to Medicaid expansion, but she said she supported Governor Mike Pence’s delay in accepting the funding.
“Governor Pence made that decision early on and I think that he has a cautious approach,” Mayfield said, “I think that there is something between the broad expansion of Medicaid and maybe a more limited expansion using just HIP, and honestly I think that’s what they’re investigating and I think they need to continue that.”
HIP is the Healthy Indiana Plan, which provides subsidies for some low-income residents to buy private insurance. There is a long waiting list for the program, but Pence has proposed expanding it to cover more people.
Pierce said there are problems with that approach, but he is willing to negotiate with conservatives on the issue.
“I said I think that there are a lot of politics involved with this is because it’s an Obama program and a lot of voters don’t like Obama or the program,” Pierce said, “I think that the Governor knows that something needs to change in order to get this done. I expect something will happen before the end of the year, which is unfortunate because people won’t have coverage. It’s not tenable to be an island of the uninsured.”
The next legislative update sponsored by the League of Women Voters is scheduled for March 1 at 9:30 a.m, in the Bloomington City Council chambers.
Tonight on Interchange host Doug Storm talks with three faculty members of Indiana University who were active in Occupy Bloomington, one of many occupations of public spaces in US cities that appeared as a response to the Occupy Wall Street Movement that originated in New York City in September of 2011.
Ben Robinson, associate professor of Germanic Studies.
Micol Seigel, associate professor in the American Studies and History Departments and co-founder of Decarcerate Monroe County.
Joe Varga, assistant professor of labor studies and an organizer in the all-volunteer chapter of South Central Indiana Jobs with Justice.
We look at out how Occupy began back in September of 2011 and attempted to define some of the issues surrounding Occupy Wall Street, and we’ve looked at how Occupy Bloomington was born. We also examine the Legacy of OWS-what did OWS encourage, what effects, if any, both positive and negative have come out of this popular protest movement.
Photo courtesy of Joe Varga
On Thursday November 7th Former Ambassador to Syria Rajendra Abhyankar provided an overview of the situation and helped audience members understand the complexities of the war, chemical weapons, and UN Resolutions. Indiana University student and Syrian native Rahaf Safi will share viewpoints and anecdotes from her family back home and discuss humanitarian concerns. This event was recorded on location at the Monroe County Public Library by Community Access television services for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.
This week on Interchange, host Trish Kerle speaks with Carrol Krause, author of Showers Brothers Furniture Co: The Shared Fortunes of a Family, a City, and a University and Joe Varga, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at Indiana University and a labor and social justice activist.
Since the 1870s, Bloomington has been shaped by the ebb and flow of industrialization – and de-industrialization, beginning with the Showers Brothers Furniture Company, followed by the RCA radio and television factory, right up to today with what appears to be – the fading presence of General Electric. Krause and Varga talk about the history of those companies, their impact on the city, and the rise of organized labor in Bloomington.
This week on Interchange, host Doug Storm discusses the state of education in Indiana with Vic Smith, Board President of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education; Phil Harris, co-author of The Myths of Standardized Testing with Bruce Smith and Joan Harris, and Executive Director of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology; and Gary Crow, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
Our topics will include the coercive economics of educational products corporations like Pearson Education, the funding of charter schools by foundations like the Lilly Endowment which have tremendous reach by placing employees in government to influence public policy, and the role the school used to play, ought to play, but no longer does, in developing a democratic citizen.
Discussed in the program: