Gestures of Bipartisanship? Bosma Goes Bold on Day One

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.

Bauer Sends Dobis Packing From Leadership Role

House Speaker Pat Bauer and former Speaker Pro Tempore Chet Dobis have served together as Indiana legislators since 1970. That’s a lot of collaboration, and undoubtedly a little conflict, over 40 years.

Conflict is center stage now as Dobis has been removed from his second in command leadership position. The reason: he didn’t support his Democrat colleagues on a committee report that would have likely killed the Illiana Expressway, a project heavily supported in Dobis’ Northwest Indiana district.

Frugal Hoosiers has the latest, with an assist from the Northwest Indiana Times. The impact on the remainder of the legislative session, and beyond, remains to be seen.