Political Notebook

  • Hoosiers asked to help make Indiana more competitive
    The Indiana Department of Revenue on Monday released a report of ideas and recommendations generated at the Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference in June.
  • Stutzman’s wife on ‘19 Kids’
    Christy Stutzman, wife of Congressman Marlin Stutzman, made a surprise appearance last Tuesday night on the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting.
  • Voters forum set for Saturday
    The Fort Wayne Chapter of The Links Inc., a non-profit women's service organization, will present a voter education and engagement forum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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Tax forum to feature only supporters of caps

A number of advocates for putting property tax caps in the state constitution will participate in a local panel Thursday, including a possible candidate for mayor and six lawmakers.

But even though the advance billing for the event promises an “even-handed and balanced presentation” on the issue, no opponents are scheduled to appear.

Fort Wayne mayoral hopeful Paula Hughes is hosting the discussion panel and acknowledged the lack of opposition.

She said all area state elected officials were invited and several lawmakers who have concerns about the tax caps declined because they had already made travel plans.

“We hope the audience will stir up the conversation,” Hughes said.

As host, she handled the logistics of the event, including securing event space and tapping moderator Ryan Elijah of Indiana’s NewsCenter. The discussion will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the AB meeting room of the downtown Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza.

Legislators scheduled to attend include Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; Rep. Randy Borror, R-Fort Wayne; Rep. Matt Bell, R-Avilla; Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale; and Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven.

The panel is open to the public at no charge, and attendees will receive a handout with the legal language of the caps and a digest explaining them.

Aaron Smith, an activist from central Indiana, will be present. He has organized similar events around the state.

“The primary purpose of the discussion panel is to help the residents of Allen County decide for themselves if the constitutional property tax caps are a good thing,” he said.

Hughes is participating because she believes that “changing our state constitution to include the property tax caps is one of the most important public policy questions the state has considered in many years.”

Tax caps, Part 2

Key lawmakers decided to jump-start the 2010 legislative session by having December hearings, even though it is typically a month reserved for vacations and family time.

So it’s no surprise that bringing the hearings to fruition started on an auspicious note.

The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee originally scheduled the first meeting on tax caps for this Tuesday. But its chairman had trouble getting enough members to conduct business. So it was moved back to last Tuesday. Then on Tuesday, the committee heard hours of testimony and couldn’t take a vote because it didn’t have a quorum.

In response, a follow-up meeting was scheduled for this Tuesday.

Challenging Bayh

Former Evansville-area Rep. John Hostettler said he will join three others competing for the Republican nomination for Senate next year and a chance to challenge Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.

Hostettler, 48, was defeated in 2006 after six terms in office. While in Congress, he voted against giving President Bush the authority to invade Iraq, was an outspoken conservative on social issues and opposed the Bush administration’s guest-worker program for illegal immigrants.

Other Republicans who have said they will compete in the May primary are Marlin Stutzman, Don Bates and Richard Behney.

Kernan aide to run

Former Democratic state executive Thomas McKenna announced last week he is running for secretary of state in 2010.

Current Secretary of State Todd Rokita cannot run again because of term limits.

McKenna’s campaign announcement focused on a voter-ID law that requires Hoosiers to show photo identification in order to vote.

“The bedrock of our democracy – is under attack in Indiana,” he said. “Let us work together to maintain the integrity of the ballot while rejecting false restrictions on access to that ballot.”

McKenna was the executive director of the Indiana Department of Commerce for five years under then Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan, after serving one year as the lieutenant governor’s executive assistant for operations.

Later, during his eight years in the O’Bannon and Kernan administrations, he served as Lt. Gov. Kernan’s chief of staff, then as Gov. Kernan’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

Most recently, McKenna was vice president of labor relations for AK Steel Corp. in Ohio.

He is a native of Madison and lives in Carmel.

Sylvia A. Smith, Washington Editor of The Journal Gazette, contributed to this report.

To reach Political Notebook via email, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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