« Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides Boonville annexation issue | Main | About this Blog - Law blogs going behind paywalls, law blogs sold, and for sale »

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ind. Law - Bosma revives HJR3, reassigns it to Elections Committee [Updated]

Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports this afternoon:

INDIANAPOLIS – House Speaker Brian Bosma rescued the gay marriage amendment Tuesday by moving it to a friendlier committee.

He said he struggled with the decision over the weekend but had heard from a majority of the House Republican caucus – for and against the measure – that they wanted to vote on the bill on the House floor.

“This seemed like the best way to do it – the least intrusive and most respectful of the process,” Bosma said.

He moved House Joint Resolution 3 – the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions – and a companion bill to the House Elections Committee.

“It has a likelihood of making it to the floor with this route,” Bosma said.

The House Judiciary Committee heard the bill last week but stalled when several Republican members were publicly undecided, and would not confirm which way they would vote to leadership.

Both HJR 3 and the companion explanatory bill, HB 1153, will be heard by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee at 3:30 PM tomorrow, Jan. 22nd, in the House Chamber. Another full public hearing is anticipated, for the benefit of the members of the new committee. The members of the committee are listed here, 9 R and 4 D.

[Updated at 4:06 PM] Barb Berggoetz and Tony Cook report in the IndyStar:

In a highly unusual move, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma today moved the controversial same-sex marriage ban to a new committee — where it stands a better chance of passing — after the measure stalled in another committee.

Asked how he justified the step, Bosma said, "I responded to the overwhelming majority of the Republican caucus who have extensively lobbied me to bring this to the floor in one fashion or another." * * *

Democrats didn't hesitate to attack Bosma's decision.

Judiciary Committee member Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, called the move "embarrassing."

"This is what happens when you have a really bad idea and get over committed to it," he said. "You start breaking the procedures. You start attacking the structure of the system. That's what the speaker has done."

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said, "Instead of letting hours of testimony and the democratic process play out, the Speaker of the House has decided to start the clock over.

"Sometimes the legislative process does not garner the expected result, but that does not mean one gets to change the rules in the middle of the game," he added.

Some quotes from a lengthy story by Brian A. Howey and Matthew Butler in Howey Politics:
Bosma had said in recent months that the marriage amendment would be treated "like any other bill" and both he and Senate President David Long vowed not to "dictate" passage of the amendment. But it has become clear that with the social conservative stars in alignment with Gov. Mike Pence and two super majority Republican legislative chambers, the marriage amendment has become the movement's top priority, even as they have rhetorically distanced themselves from it.

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, reacted to the move by saying, "The Speaker has just insulted the legislature and my committee in particular, by saying having heard the bill and having understood the bill we’re not going to be allowed to vote. This is what we call forum shopping.I think it’s totally inappropriate. Constitutional amendments tend to get passed with great support. They don’t get shoved up a hill; people don’t get their hands broken in the process. This is not appropriate for a constitutional amendment.” * * *

Time is becoming of the essence here. With no Judiciary Committee meetings scheduled since the Jan. 13 showdown when proponents of the measure expected a vote, other issues such as the criminal code reform tweaks, are held up. Feb. 3 is the crossover date for bills to move out of the chamber of origin. * * *

DeLaney also noted the potentially explosive political repercussions. “I have no way to predict how that committee that has no background or experience with this topic is supposed to handle it," he said. "But there is a high risk that if they don’t handle it in a very professional, very open, detailed manner then they’re going to look very bad. You know when I have jury trials, I never get a chance to say, could you give me a different jury judge, this one’s not working out.”

“What he should have done is let us take a vote and anything other than that is just a distortion of the process," DeLaney continued. "I’m sorry to see this. This is probably the biggest political trick I’ve seen played in this place in six years. If he couldn’t get it through this committee doesn’t that tell him this is not a worthy idea? This is what we’re here for.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 21, 2014 03:42 PM
Posted to Indiana Law