Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

January 6, 2013

State lawmakers to contend with social, fiscal issues

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers preparing for a lengthy 2013 session will have to balance fiscal priorities like writing the state’s next biennial budget and restoring spending cuts made in the last few years with a series of divisive social issues that could easily push aside all other debate.

The General Assembly returns Monday with dozens of new lawmakers, a new Republican administration led by Gov.-elect Mike Pence and plans to work on the state budget. But a proposal to write Indiana’s gay marriage ban into the state constitution, an effort to challenge the teaching of evolution in Indiana classrooms and other hotly contested social issues could suck the air out of the room if Republican leaders let them.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said it might look like hot-button issues and broader economic priorities are competing for space in the General Assembly, but he thinks lawmakers have plenty of time and experience to handle both.

“Those are issues are not a distraction, they’re a part of the process,” he said, noting that hundreds of bills dealing with a wide range of issues are filed every session. “Some of them are controversial and sometimes don’t see the light of day,” he said.

This year, he said, is no exception.

“We have lots of different senators making statements with bills this year,” he said.

The Legislature will consider a budget proposal from Pence that is likely to be capped by his push for a 10 percent cut in the personal income tax. But legislative leaders, including Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma, have already expressed reservations about the plan as they deal with other cuts already being phased in and look to restore funding to areas like education.

Lawmakers will also have to find a way to pay for new roads now that the money from the $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road has been spent or committed to projects. And increased Medicaid costs, based on the assumption that residents who already qualify for the program but are not enrolled will come out of the “woodwork” as the federal health care law takes effect, are certain to add to the demands placed on the budget.

Long said workforce development — training students and workers to fill new advanced manufacturing jobs and other skilled positions that don’t require four-year college degrees — will also be one of the big issues this session.

How far social issues intrude on those discussions remains to be seen.

Some supporters of the effort to write the gay marriage ban into the constitution say the debate might have to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue. The fate of religious-tinged measures, including challenges to the teaching of evolution and a proposal that schools recite the Lord’s Prayer at the start of the school day, also is uncertain, but the measures will likely stir debate.

Conservative lawmakers are also pushing for expanded access to guns in a handful of measures that would limit the state’s ability to regulate firearms and invalidate any federal gun regulations on guns manufactured exclusively in Indiana.

Democratic leaders, now representing a distinct minority in both the Senate and the House, say they expect cooler heads on the other side of the aisle, if only because there are so many issues to deal with and because the budget will take up so much time.

“The people expect us to work on the problems they care about: making sure people are able to earn their wages and that their hard work is going to be rewarde. They expect their kids are going to be able to go to a safe and secure school,” said House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City. “The divisive issues are going to be left for another day.”

But if sessions have proved anything, it’s to count on unexpected and unannounced issues. As Republican lawmakers spent the 2012 session moving an agenda dominated by right-to-work legislation and modest spending on full-day kindergarten and victims of the 2011 state fair stage collapse, explosive social issues pushed their way to the fore.

After social conservatives failed to revoke specialty license plates for an Indianapolis gay youth group via legislation, they found a workaround by relying on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to deny the specialty plates. And an otherwise mundane resolution honoring the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary turned the Legislature into a circus after one House member accused the group of teaching girls to become lesbians and have abortions.

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute and a former Statehouse reporter, said he sees hot-button issues popping up like they do every year but getting little traction as lawmakers focus on clearing what is already a full plate.

“The one thing the Legislature has to do this year is pass the budget. These social issues have been around for a long time coming and going,” Ketzenberger said. “I think they’re going to spend a lot of time on transportation issues, I think they’re going to spend a lot of time on Medicaid, and other than these other issues which sort of float around like satellites, that’s going to be what they’re about this year.”

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • GN140723 fair senior day 02 4-H FAIR: Senior citizens enjoy day despite temps GOSHEN — It was a warm day Tuesday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of senior citizens from stopping by for a snack and a walk through the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Middlebury council OKs payment for sewage plant work MIDDLEBURY — On Monday, the Middlebury Town Council approved a pay application of $426,117 for Fetters Construction Co. of Auburn for Contract A of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Project in Middlebury. According to Town Manager Mark Sale

    July 23, 2014

  • Harness Racing Crowd Harness racing a fan favorite at 4-H Fair GOSHEN — There is no question about the popularity of the three-day harness racing program at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140723 fair shuffle board 02 4-H Fair: Shuffleboard tourney a source of fun GOSHEN — A little friendly banter could be heard among the shuffleboard players as they competed at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140723 CR34-Ind. 13 Crash 1 LaGrange man airlifted from scene of crash A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash at Ind. 13 and C.R. 34 at 1:48 p.m. Tuesday. Terry Fry, 44, LaGrange, was airlifted by MedFlight from the scene. Elkhart County police said he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital with fractures to

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charlotte.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs at the Humane Society of Elkhart County looking for loving, permanent homes. This month the HSEC has a Hot Dogs and Cool Cats special. Adopt in July and receive 25 percent off your adoption fee for dogs and cats under 5 years old or 50 percent off those 5-years-old or better.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140723 Sanders fair faces FAIR FACES: Austin Sanders enjoys success, versatility as 10-year 4-Her

    It’s tough to say in which Elkhart County 4-H Fair livestock barn you’re most likely to find 10-year 4-H member Austin Sanders.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Goshen City Hall GOSHEN BOARD OF WORKS: Gravel lot approved for Forest River

    GOSHEN — The employee parking areas for a new manufacturing facility within the Century Drive Industrial Park on Goshen’s south side will be allowed to remain unpaved, though that doesn’t mean the city has to like it.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140722 fair food drive 03 Fair's food drive falls short of world record, but is still a success

    For a 24-hour period, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair “All IN” food drive committee attempted a “Guinness Book of World Records” for the largest single-day food drive. Their goal: 560,000 pounds of food collected from 1 p.m. Sunday to 1 p.m. Monday.

    July 21, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140722 fair special needs awareness 02 Many enjoy Disabilities Awareness Day at the fair

    Barry Malone stepped off the Orient Express roller coaster ride, grinning. “That I was fun. I liked that,” Malone said with a laugh. “That was a good ride, too.” Malone attended the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Monday and participated in the Disabilities Awareness Day activities and events at Heritage Park, just inside the main gate.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City