Capitol Connection: State Sen. Delph gains Twitter fame for passionate defense of gay marriage ban
Gay marriage ban referendum clears Senate committee
Members of a Senate committee decided to move forward with House Joint Resolution 3, commonly referred to as the gay marriage ban, but at a cost.
HJR-3 cleared the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee without the second sentence which would have banned civil unions as well as gay marriages.
HJR-3 will have to go through at least one more legislative session. The earliest the referendum that would potentially alter the state constitution could find its way onto a ballot would be 2016.
HJR-3 will be voted on in the Senate Feb. 17 and is likely to pass.
But the most unlikely outcome was State Sen. Delph, R-Carmel, launching an impassioned defense of the idea on his Twitter account, @MikeDelph.
In a methodology similar to a filibuster in the U.S. Senate, Delph refused to leave his bully pulpit, responding to supporters and critics all through the first night and next day.
The most surprising exchange occurred when someone asked Delph if he actually spent time with any gay people. Delph revealed that his brother, Steve Delph, is gay.
The conversation steamrolled from there, gaining state and national attention. But throughout, Delph’s position remained consistent: Some things are natural rights, and gay marriage isn’t one of them.
In a conversation with Current in Carmel, Delph said that he loved his nation and state. But he is concerned about evil marching this country down a path similar to what befell the Roman Empire.
And while the Twitter exchanges likely don’t resemble the typical lobbyist/legislator conversations, they are proving to be a more effective method for communication with a lawmaker than just typing up a letter.
“We’re still trying to feel our way through social media and figure out what the boundaries are,” Delph said. “But I’m not going to back down from anyone and I’ll stand up for my beliefs.”
Delph also said he plans to make a major announcement at 10 a.m. Feb. 17 at the Statehouse.
Sen. Merritt’s Lifeline Law expansion one step closer to becoming law
State Sen. Jim Merritt’s, R-Indianapolis, bill to expand Indiana’s Lifeline Law unanimously passed the House of Representatives Committee on Courts and Criminal Code Feb. 12 by a 12-0 vote.
SB 227 would provide legal protections to minors who are under the influence of alcohol and call to report a medical emergency or crime, such as a sexual assault. It would also allow first-responders to administer Naloxone and similar medical treatments that counteract the effects of a drug overdose.
“There must be no hesitation when it comes to saving the life of a minor or protecting someone from harm,” Merritt said. “With the help and input of young Hoosiers and their families, we came up with this proposal to ensure minors take action to help others in emergency situations.”
SB 227 is an expansion of Indiana’s 2012 Lifeline Law, which gave minors immunity if they called for help in an alcohol-related emergency.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than one in five high school students has reported binge drinking, and more than two dozen Hoosiers under the age of 21 have died from alcohol poisoning in the last 10 years.
SB 227 now moves to the full House for further consideration.
House strips corporate tax from mass transit bill
A house committee removed the corporate tax increase from the mass transit bill on Feb. 12.
State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said the bill would still allow participating counties to fund mass transit projects through increases in income taxes.
The House Roads and Transportation Committee passed the amended bill 11-1.
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.
Gov. Pence still pushing for elimination of business personal property tax
Gov. Mike Pence met with mayors from across the state on Feb. 11.
He said in a statement, “I believe that reform of the business personal property tax will mean jobs for Hoosiers. After listening to local communities across our state, I have informed legislative leaders that I am open to full state replacement revenue for local governments to cover the cost of eliminating the business personal property tax on small businesses with less than $25,000 in equipment, as proposed in Senate Bill 1. This would ensure that any reform of this tax does not unduly burden local governments or shift the cost of this tax onto hardworking Hoosiers.”