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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Bills shot down left and right in session"

Niki Kelly, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's long-time Statehouse reporter, reports this morning in a long story - some quotes:

In the last 24 hours before a key legislative deadline, bill after bill went down to defeat Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some were publicly trounced with dozens of red buttons glaring on the vote board.

Others were quiet burials as the authors of the legislation knew the expected outcome and declined to call the bill for consideration.

The topics were wide-ranging – education, vaccines, speed cameras, annexation, alcohol regulations, cremation, civics testing and more.

“That tends to happen toward the end of each segment (of the legislative session),” House Speaker Brian Bosma said. “People get tired. The day gets long, and if there’s something that rubs them the wrong way, they’ll cast a no vote. We’ve had some good bills go down that way.”

Even though House Republicans spent hours in caucus Wednesday, he said head counts were taken only on a few bills.

Instead, it’s up to authors to call a bill or not. And they usually know the landscape of whether something will pass or fail.

On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, said he clearly didn’t have the votes on a Sunday alcohol sales bill. So it is now dead for the session.

On Wednesday, Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, passed on an education bill involving ISTEP+ and letter grades for small schools after seeing a wide-ranging education bill get defeated hours earlier.

The latter bill was House Bill 1072, which gave more power over student data to the State Board of Education, changed teacher evaluation methodology, tweaked how school’s A-to-F grades work and made changes to the ISTEP+ test.

It was defeated 51-42 – a surprise to many. It was a Republican bill, and the GOP has a supermajority of 71 in the House. * * *

Another bill that died was an attempt to use cameras on school buses to catch people passing the buses when the “stop” sign is fully extended. A separate provision allowed cameras to issue speeding fines in work zones.

That bill came up late Tuesday night, and one Republican termed it “gotcha government.”

A Democrat called it an “ACLU meets tea party moment here,” saying it will breed contempt for government.

Bosma halted the bill in the middle of the debate, and the author did not call it down again Wednesday.

But it wasn’t just the House killing bills.

The Senate voted 28-22 to defeat a constitutional amendment defining the “right to farm and ranch.”

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, has pushed the measure to protect small family farms from animal rights and environmental groups opposing some farming practices.

Much of the discussion centered on whether state and local governments could reasonably regulate confined feeding operations or other farms under such a measure.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said two state laws already protect farmers so there is no need for a constitutional amendment.

The Senate also voted 33-17 against requiring Hoosier students to pass a civics test to graduate high school.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said this was a matter of bad timing. While he supports the importance of civics knowledge, he said it was inconsistent to add a test at a time that many lawmakers and Hoosiers are upset with the number of tests students are taking.

For more on the 'right to farm' defeat, see this IndyStar story by Ryan Sabalow. And this story from the Muncie Voice on the involvement of Forrest Lucas in pushing the amendmemt.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 26, 2015 10:15 AM
Posted to Indiana Government