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Monday, March 30, 2015
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Gov. Mike Pence (right) during the January State of the State address while Senate President David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian Bosma listen. All three are seeking ways of "clarifying" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has set off boycotts of Indiana. (HPI Photo)
Gov. Mike Pence (right) during the January State of the State address while Senate President David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian Bosma listen. All three are seeking ways of "clarifying" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has set off boycotts of Indiana. (HPI Photo)
Monday, March 30, 2015 3:34 PM
By MATTHEW BUTLER

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Temp David Long told reporters Monday that Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) law would not allow for discrimination of gays and lesbians and they would seek to pass legislation clarifying such. Both Republican leaders of super majorities in their respective chambers said it was never their intent to pass anything discriminatory and they felt the law was being misunderstood by many and misconstrued by some.

The Monday morning press conference was the likes of which rarely seen at the Indiana Statehouse. Media nearly packed the Senate Chamber as national reporters and cameramen jockeyed for space with the everyday statehouse press corps. Outside, national television satellite trucks were parked on the streets lining the state capitol. Democrats were able to use the entire gaggle of media later in the morning to call for repeal of the entire RFRA law and to bolster the state’s human rights statutes by making sexual orientation a protected class.

Freedom Indiana leader Rick Sutton told HPI that while Gov. Pence and legislative leaders say the law doesn’t allow for discrimination, key backers like Eric Miller of Advance America have publicly said it does just that. As for the potential passage of clarifying language for the new RFRA law, Sutton said, “They’re trying to put stop sticks in front of a speeding bus and it’s just not going to work.”

It follows a weekend that saw Gov. Mike Pence try to deflect criticism of the law on the Sunday morning talk show This Week with George Stephanopoulos, thousands of Hoosiers march on the Indiana Statehouse in opposition of the new law, and a flurry of corporations and business leaders saying it would make them think twice about investing or expanding within the state. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced Monday it was pulling its October women’s conference from Indianapolis, the first organization to do so.
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  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana will be safe for another year. We will retain our regressive social agenda as the General Assembly stays busy passing meaningless, divisive legislation. Although politicians of all stripes recognize the need to attract progressive, educated people, our leaders insist on doing nothing of consequence to strengthen the underpinnings of the Hoosier economy. Just last week, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released data contradicting the empty assertions that 2014 was a great year for Indiana’s economy. In terms of Personal Income growth, our state ranked 45th in the nation (or sixth from the bottom). Indiana grew by 2.5 percent (before accounting for inflation) while the U.S. advanced by 3.9 percent. The sluggishness of Indiana’s economy followed a well-established trend: in the early years of recovery from a recession, Indiana does moderately well compared to the nation. Yet when the national economy loses the initial thrust of recovery, Indiana falters. 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – Since the dawn of the television era in Indiana politics in the mid-1950s, a mere nine white males have been U.S. senators out of the approximately 12 million people who called Indiana home during the period. Those holding one seat included Sens. William Jenner (R), Vance Hartke (D), Dick Lugar (R), and now Joe Donnelly (D). On the other, there have been Sens. Homer Capehart (R), Birch Bayh (D), Dan Quayle (R), Dan Coats (R), Evan Bayh (D), and then Coats once more. In more than 60 years, there were three “open seats” at the beginning of the cycle when the incumbent did not run, with Jenner in 1958, Coats in 1998 and Evan Bayh in 2010. In all three open seats, there were overwhelming favorites seeking Senate seats in mid-term elections with Evansville Mayor Hartke riding a Democratic wave in 1958 with 57.5 percent of the vote after Jenner retired to Bedford, popular Gov. Bayh’s ascension in 1998 with 63.7 percent over Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, and Coats’ return in 2010 with 54.7 percent over U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth. Facing Hoosier voters in a campaign that kicked off Thursday with Eric Holcomb’s entry is an extraordinary event poised for 2016: An open Senate seat in a presidential election year with no clear favorite. 
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – Sen. Dan Coats, a nice guy in an increasingly nasty business, will step away from that business on his own terms. He is positioned now to do some important business for the nation before he leaves. The Indiana Republican announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Coats would have faced Tea Party opposition in the Republican primary election and, if he fared better than former Sen. Dick Lugar did against a Tea Party favorite in the 2012 GOP primary, he would have faced a determined Democratic challenge in the fall. That would have meant all-out fundraising and campaigning, and cautious political evaluation of every vote cast and word spoken in the Senate, for the remaining two years of his term. Now, as Coats said, he won’t have to concentrate on campaigning but can “focus all of my time and energy on the major challenges that Hoosiers sent me to Washington to address.” 
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON — Great democracies do not veer from one doomsday moment to the next, nor do they fund government on a week-to-week basis. Yet that is precisely the habit Congress has developed. It’s embarrassing. After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Congress, he said, would not lurch from crisis to crisis. I wish I could be so confident. Because if you look at the year ahead, the congressional calendar is littered with opportunities to do just that.
       
     
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Long, Bosma on 'clarifying' RFRA
Indiana Senate President David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma are "looking at options to clarify" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (WTHR-TV)
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  • Unprecedented outrage at Indiana puts Pence in damage control

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Facing on onslaught of criticism from the business community and an unprecedented national disparagement of the state, Gov. Mike Pence attempted to make a case for the legitimacy of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act Sunday on national TV, but when pressed could not declare that gays and lesbians wouldn’t be the target of sanctioned discrimination. It comes after an unprecedented array corporate executives, mayors, the NCAA and celebrities castigated the new law that Pence signed on Thursday in a private ceremony. The controversy comes on the eve of the national media descending into Indianapolis for the NCAA Men’s Final Four, with media personalities ranging from local hero Reggie Miller, to ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, to Charles Barkley of CBS denouncing the new law. And it ignited a potential fissure in the Indiana Republican Party, with Howard County Chairman Craig Dunn questioning Pence’s own viability for reelection in 2016 is now in question.

     
  • Scramble begins today to join the Indiana Senate 9
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Since the dawn of the television era in Indiana politics, a mere nine white males have been U.S. senators out of the approximately 12 million people who called Indiana home during the period. Those holding one seat included Sens. William Jenner (R), Vance Hartke (D), Dick Lugar (R), and now Joe Donnelly (D). On the other, there have been Sens. Homer Capehart (R), Birch Bayh (D), Dan Quayle (R), Dan Coats (R), Evan Bayh (D), and then Coats once more. In more than 60 years, there were three “open seats” at the beginning of the cycle when the incumbent did not run, with Jenner in 1958, Coats in 1998 and Evan Bayh in 2010. In Bayh’s case, Coats returned to the public spectrum to win back the seat he gave up a decade earlier. In only one instance, Lugar in 2012, was a sitting senator defeated in a primary. In three cases, Capehart in 1962 to Birch Bayh, Hartke in 1976 to Lugar, and Birch Bayh in 1980 to Quayle, were incumbents defeated in general elections.
       
     
  • Holcomb first declared GOP Senate candidate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Eric Holcomb kicked off the 2016 Indiana U.S. Senatorial campaign Thursday with an announcement rally that seemed like a virtual Daniels administration reunion. The former Indiana Republican chairman and deputy chief of staff under Gov. Mitch Daniels told several hundred cheering that his work for Sen. Dan Coats had exposed him to the Republican “with impeccable integrity.” He said that immediately after Coats made the decision not to seek reelection, “I began to receive encouragement from many quarters, which brings me to the purpose of today’s gathering. The solutions to America’s most daunting challenges cannot be found in the promises to simply printing more money or kicking the can down the road for others to inherit." Holcomb continued, “This campaign will be about what we are for, not simply about what we are against. This campaign will seek to attract people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and experiences. We will welcome and engage them. This campaign will be about Indiana’s voice and anyone who knows me knows, this campaign is going to have some fun along the way.”
     
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  • Pelath says GOP leaders don't understand RFRA crisis
    "They have no sense to how big of a problem this is. People are angry, they're upset and they're insulted." - Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who along with Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson called for a repeal of the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Republican Senate President David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma said that the law was not intended to “discriminate” and vowed to forge “clarifying” legislation. Both opposed adding gays to the state’s civil rights protections.

     



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