For immediate release:
Jan. 24, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS - This week provided Indiana House members with a perfect chance to seriously consider ideas that can get Hoosiers back to work and make sure they earn a decent living.
Over the past few days, House Democrats offered a series of proposals that would offer some real changes and help those folks who are struggling to make ends meet.
Here is what we tried to do to help:
- Increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour.
- Give the people of Indiana the chance to say if they supported an increase in the state’s minimum wage.
- Ask for a study of Indiana’s wage equity gap that finds Hoosier working women earning 73 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
- Restore the state’s Small Business Innovation Program. This program, which provides grants to assist technological start-up companies, was privatized under the previous administration, a change that resulted in a federal audit for irregularities and a drastic drop in assistance.
- Establish Manufacturing Reinvestment Accounts that help small businesses purchase equipment and hire new employees.
- Create the Indiana Goes Back to Work tax Credit to encourage employers to hire unemployed and underemployed Hoosiers.
- Restore public trust in government by prohibiting “pay-to-play” in Indiana, which would prevent people and companies seeking taxpayer-funded incentives from making political contributions to candidates for statewide office or the Legislature.
All of these are good ideas aimed at helping Hoosiers who need it the most.
All of them were rejected by the House Republicans. Some they voted down outright, others they refused to allow votes through parliamentary gimmicks and tricks.
In every case, House Republicans just said NO.
What was their priority instead?
We have talked before about House Joint Resolution 3 and House Bill 1153, the two measures designed to tell us who can marry whom in Indiana. When the week began, we were awaiting a final vote from the House Judiciary Committee, which spent more than three hours looking at both measures.
But the House Speaker pulled a fast one…at mid-week, he took the bill from the Judiciary Committee and gave it to the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, which collected another four hours of testimony before voting along party lines to send both proposals to the full House. Debate is expected to begin in the next few days.
It has been interesting to see all of these moves taken on behalf of a matter that Republican leaders proclaimed wasn’t that big a deal going into this session.
From what we have seen, it is obvious that the people who control state government consider this issue a very big deal, and they are apparently willing to do anything and everything in their power to make sure it gets on the ballot this fall…no matter how divisive and ugly the debate on it.
I believe it’s also fair to ask whether this is the kind of issue that we need to be spending all of our time on this session.
Shouldn’t we be strengthening the middle class?
Reinforcing traditional public schools?
Avoiding social issues that only divide us?
Those are my priorities. They will remain my emphasis through the rest of the 2014 session.