Capitol Connection: Republican leaders make Sen. Delph sit with Democrats
Delph punished over stance on gay marriage ban
The Associated Press reported that Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, decided to punish Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, for his criticism of Republican leadership in discussions over a referendum that could potentially ban gay marriage in the state constitution.
Neither would talk publicly about the punishment, but the Associated Press reports Delph will lose his ranking within the GOP caucus, his seat in the Senate chamber among other Republicans and his press secretary.
Delph will now sit among the Senate Democrats.
The sanctions against Delph follow more than a week of infighting over the failed effort to place the proposed amendment on the ballot this November and include a provision that would also ban civil unions.
Delph accused Long and others of purposely delaying a public vote, shortly before the Senate pushed off the issue until at least 2016.
“The can keeps getting kicked down the road while culture change grows,” Delph said at a Feb. 17 news conference in the Statehouse rotunda. “The state of Indiana needs to bring this issue to closure once and for all.”
But perhaps the issue is all a misunderstanding.
Delph was one of the featured speakers at the Carmel-Clay GOP Club chili supper meeting on Feb. 19 – the club’s largest event of the year.
Delph joked that Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had been asked to speak at the event, but neither could make it. At that point, Delph said he volunteered to speak, but the club’s leadership wasn’t sure that his political profile has high enough.
So Delph joked that he and fellow Carmel State Sen. Scott Schneider got together to think of what to do. Delph joked, “Schneider said, ‘Well you could always take on the world on Twitter.’”
To watch Delph’s press conference in its entirety visit http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/sen-mike-delph-takes-stage-to-discuss-recent-twitter-storm-feelings-on-hjr-3
Negotiations will shape mass transit bill
After a house committee removed the corporate tax increase from the mass transit bill on Feb. 12, the bill will likely fall short of funding goals in its current form.
State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said the bill would still allow participating counties to fund mass transit projects through increases in income taxes.
But the maximum increase of the income tax increase allowed appears to be in play as well. The old maximum had been an increase of 0.3 percent.
Torr said House leaders also are exploring creative financing methods to give businesses some skin in the game.
That might include allowing a transit authority to negotiate with large employers and have them sign contracts to purchase a number of passes in bulk for their employees for a number of years.
Where the bill goes from here is uncertain. A similar bill died in the 2013 session because some senators felt that it wasn’t adequately funded.
Senate to send pre-K bill to summer session study commission
The Senate Committee on Education and Career Development approved an amendment today to House Bill 1004 – legislation that would establish an early childhood education scholarship program for low-income families. The amended bill, which passed by a unanimous vote, would instead create a study commission to develop a more refined pre-kindergarten program, said State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.
The commission would be comprised of lawmakers and leaders in education, business, child development and social services. They would study the following topics:
● The feasibility of using existing federal funds to establish an early learning scholarship program
● Options for funding the program through partnerships with businesses, philanthropic organizations or community leaders
● Opportunities to equip parents with skills necessary to improve their ability to contribute to their child’s learning
● The economic impact and benefits of a pre-kindergarten program, as well as other states’ standards for a similar program
● The appropriate income standards to use to determine whether a parent is eligible to receive state assistance for early learning programs
Kenley said this would give state and local leaders more time and resources to produce an effective pre-kindergarten program.
“Indiana and the federal government currently spend approximately $277 million per year on early childhood development programs in our state,” Kenley said. “Last year, the General Assembly approved a preschool pilot program that appropriated an additional $4 million. Before we enact a new program, I believe it’s necessary to review our current resources and reach a decision that’s realistic for our state.”
Currently, the proposed program in HB 1004, if extended to eligible children statewide, could cost up to $270 million per year.
U.S. Rep. Brooks sponsors bill to suspend individual mandate penalties whenever Obama delays employer mandate
U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Carmel, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, introduced the Freeing Americans from Inequitable Requirements Act (FAIR Act), a bill providing the same relief to American families under the President’s health care law that President Obama has offered to special interests and corporations.
The bill would retroactively suspend the individual mandate penalties until 2016, as has been done to the employer mandate most recently on February 10, 2014.
“The Affordable Care Act continues to make life harder for Americans struggling to pay their bills and support their families in a tough economy,” Brooks said. “Sadly, President Obama won’t provide individuals the same relief he’s repeatedly given to corporations and special interest groups. At a time when restoring faith in our elected officials and public servants is so vitally important, this is no way to build trust between Americans and the government that serves them. The FAIR Act simply requires the President to fix this sad imbalance created by the failed implementation of his new health care law. If the employer mandate is delayed until 2016 then there’s no good reason for the individual mandate to be in effect right now.”