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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Same-sex marriage battle brewing: Lobbyists, PACs part of 2-phase fight over state’s constitution"

Niki Kelly has this long story in the Sunday Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Some quotes:

The two-phase fight is already revving up and could last a year. The clash starts in the legislature and may well end in a ballot battle next November.

It’s been years since Indiana has had a significant campaign on a public question – the last big one in 1988 when the issue of eliminating the constitutional ban on gambling arose.

The move to amend the Indiana Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage began in 2004 and has been stymied multiple times over the years. It takes two separately elected General Assemblies to approve the amendment before sending it to a vote.

It passed both the Indiana House and Senate in 2011. Then an election occurred in 2012, meaning it has to pass again this year or the process must start over.

Republicans are under immense pressure as the public sentiment has shifted. The party is struggling to please both social conservatives who support it and business interests that oppose.

One House Republican member last week said his vote in support two years ago was a mistake and he won’t support it again.

“For us to put that amendment in the constitution and to lock down generations with bigotry is wrong,” Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, told the Shelbyville News.

ILB: Here is the complete quote from the Nov. 5th ShelbyNews:
In 2011, Eberhart voted in favor of the ban. Today, he considers that vote a "mistake."

"I won't support it again. I made a mistake in 2011, and I have reversed my stance completely. My kids were a big reason why, and they enlightened me on how their generation feels about the issue. For us to put that amendment in the Constitution and to lockdown generations with bigotry is wrong. It is flat out wrong. This issue has changed. In 2006, when I was elected, I think a wide majority supported putting it in the Constitution, but times change. There is nothing wrong with changing your stance, and you have to re-evalute issues from time to time. I will not support it if it comes up again," Eberhart said.

More from the FWJG story:
Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition fighting against the amendment, is hoping to avoid the trip to the polls by swaying more lawmakers like Eberhart. * * *

To that end, the group has put together a lobbying team that includes two employees and 11 lobbyists from five high-profile law firms.

Charles Harris, executive director of the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, said the key filing date for lobbying activity during the session will be May 31.

Lobby reports have to include all expenses, such as entertainment and gifts for specific legislators, if they hit the threshold of $50 in one day or $250 in a reporting year. * * *

If the amendment passes both the House and Senate the second part of the battle begins – trying to swing Hoosier voters for or against the ban.

Brad King, the Republican co-director of the Indiana Election Division, said this is where campaign finance law is applied.

He said federal law requires more reporting for issue advocacy than state law. And state campaign finance requirements start only when there is officially something on the ballot to advocate for or against. King expects several political action committees on both sides of the issue to be created.

Some of the conservative groups already have existing PACs that can be used, and Freedom Indiana will create one if need be, Wagner said.

PACs must report who contributes money and how it is spent. The most important filing date will likely be October 2014.

There are many more details relating to lobbying and PACs in the long story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 10, 2013 04:05 PM
Posted to Indiana Government