On a day usually reseved more for ceremony than substance, new Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma shook things up on Tuesday during Organization Day at the Statehouse. Among his pronouncements:
Appointing two Democrats (Chet Dobis and Steve Stemler) to committee chair posts. That is believed to be the first time members of the opposite party have been granted that opportunity in the nearly 200 years of Indiana statehood.
Creating a new group (to be chaired by Dobis) titled the Select Committee on Government Reduction. The goal: get rid of unnecessary regulations, as well as boards and commissions that no longer serve a critical importance (many will fit into that category).
Calling on all committee chairs to consider legislation offered by all members — regardless of party.
Limiting state reps to no more than 10 bills each, saying, "If you can’t get your agenda done in 10 bills, maybe your agenda is too long."
Announcing that all House committee hearings will be broadcast over the Internet, giving the public the opportunity to following the proceedings if so desired.
It’s easier in November than January to pledge bipartisanship and vow to listen to what the voters had to say in declaring business as usual is not good enough. But this has all the sights and sounds of more than political posturing. Let’s hope it is the first of many signs that the General Assembly is serious about placing progress on critical issues over partisan power plays. It would be a most welcome change.
One of the more interesting Indiana House races features District 22 incumbent Bill Ruppel (R-North Manchester) facing a strong challenge from Rebecca Kubacki (Syracuse).
Geography is a key factor, of course, with Kubacki needing to stay close in Wabash County (Ruppel’s home base). The initial absentee ballots from Wabash — a 213-202 edge for Ruppel — fit that early recipe for success, with attention to also be focused on the northern part of the district and Kosciusko County. The next update showed Kubacki with a 42-vote advantage with 16% of the vote in.
Ruppel, a retired teacher/coach who has been in the House since 1992, has traditionally been one of the lower scoring Republicans on the Indiana Chamber’s annual Legislative Vote Analysis. He has not been supportive of education and health care issues that are important to improving the state’s workforce and protecting employers and employees from rising benefit costs.
Kubacki has run an aggressive door-to-door campaign and vows to not accept business as usual — in other words, the bickering and partisanship that too often emphasize politics over policy.
This will be an interesting one to watch throughout the night.
With all the votes now tallied in HD37, Democrat Scott Reske (Anderson) has retained his seat by defeating Republican Kelly Gaskill.
"After the absentee ballots — many from Anderson — were counted, Reske gained enough votes to put him over the top," said Indiana Chamber political affairs director Michael Davis. "The outcome was pretty much what we thought it would be. We figured it would be close but Reske would win in the end."
This leaves the Indiana House at a 52-48 margin in favor of the Democrats.
The Indiana Chamber brought you election results throughout the night. While some dedicated staff (and they did a tremendous job collecting and reporting the latest) completed their duties several hours after midnight, the Indiana Business for Responsive Government political action team stayed at it until its comprehensive summary report was on the way to readers at 4:30 a.m.
A few tidbits:
Governor Mitch Daniels won 79 of 92 counties, while Barack Obama won only 15 counties in compiling 49.9% of the state vote.
The Indiana House stands at 51-47 Democrats, with the two outstanding races likely going to Republicans. Stay tuned for the counting of provisional ballots, which could take up to 10 days.
There will be 32 new legislators on Organization Day in a few weeks. That is a result of defeat, retirement, resignation or death since the 2006 election
Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG) continues to support Randy Truitt in the House District 26 open seat by producing and purchasing a TV spot. This is one of the most hotly contested races this election cycle and this contest has been high on our target list even before the retiring incumbent announced that he was not seeking re-election.
Having spent significant time with Randy over several different days this year and having spent time interviewing and campaigning for hundreds of candidates, I can tell you that Randy is one of the best candidates I have come across. He has a strong understanding of issues, a strong conviction on those issues and has the personality necessary to energize voters in Tippecanoe and Warren Counties. Simply put, the Indiana General Assembly needs people like Randy Truitt.
The contrast between the two candidates in HD26 is considerable. As an entrepreneur and small business owner who has strong community ties, Randy Truitt is clearly the only candidate who strongly supports the legislative agenda of the Indiana Chamber.
Here is the TV spot:
To view the complete list of IBRG-endorsed candidates, visit its web site.
Indiana Chamber president Kevin Brinegar recently discussed the Chamber’s Legislative Vote Analysis on Inside Indiana Business. This analysis outlines how Indiana’s legislators voted on key issues that impact Indiana business. Brinegar invites you to use this as a guide to either encourage your legislators’ efforts, or to let them know they should work harder toward fostering a better business environment.
Copies of the report are sent to all Indiana Chamber members, thousands of businesspersons, all legislators and other community leaders across the state.