So how much did the five-week House Democratic walkout cost? Depends on whom you ask.
Gov. Mitch Daniels Aiming Higher Political Action Committee began running an ad statewide last week claiming the walkout cost taxpayers more than $400,000.
Our children cant afford Democrats political games, the ad said. No more walkouts. Its time for real work.
An attorney on Thursday sent a letter to television stations around the state asking them to stop airing the ad because, the attorney says, it is inaccurate. The attorney acted on behalf of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus.
The advertisement is inferring that the Indiana House Democrats actively expended taxpayer monies in a frivolous manner. However the Indiana House Democrats walkout has not cost taxpayers a dime, the letter said. This figure appears to be loosely based on the cost of operating the state legislature during session. The cost of operation during the Democrats absence was the same as it would have been if the Democrats had been present to establish a quorum.
In fact, the attorney points out that the Democrats are now paying back more than $113,000 in fines from the walkout and also did not collect more than $150,000 in per diem that usually would have been paid to them during that time.
That would be a total savings of $263,000.
As of late Friday afternoon, no television stations had responded to the letter.
Allen County Recorder John McGauley knows how difficult it is to defeat Fort Wayne Clerk Sandy Kennedy.
Despite running an aggressive campaign on modernizing the office, Kennedy trounced the Republican McGauley in 2003. His advice for anyone running against her in 2007 was simply, Dont. The party listened, and Kennedy won re-election without opposition.
But four years later, McGauley has signed up to assist Zach Bonahooms effort to unseat the seven-term incumbent. Bonahoom, a 21-year-old small-business owner, is the son of City Council attorney Joe Bonahoom.
McGauley said he didnt offer to assist the younger Bonahoom just to suffer defeat again. He said times have changed since 2003 and the cutting edge online services he pushed back then are now expected from residents and consumers.
He acknowledged it will still be a difficult race as Kennedy has almost universal name recognition, but he believes the party has at least a chance of winning the seat this year.
Gambling high jinks
Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, expressed concern during a committee meeting last week that lawmakers again are expanding gambling.
Indiana made a deal years ago to crawl into bed with gaming and were stuck, he said.
A bill being considered by lawmakers would allow Indianas casinos to host card tournaments in their hotels or meeting centers rather than the casino floor.
Lehman said he isnt opposed to card tournaments – after all, he plays at a friends house.
When Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton came to the podium, he said that his gaming control agents would like the address of the friend who holds the card games.
Point taken, Lehman said to a bellowing crowd. Just to clarify, I had a net income of three matchsticks.
When House Democrats returned Monday and got down to business that evening, it was clear members on both sides of the aisle were a bit rusty.
In fact, it seemed as if they forgot how to pass laws during the five-week walkout.
Several members completely flubbed the formal verbiage used to call amendments. Others seemed confused that they had a bill to call down. And some blanked on floor etiquette.
For instance, GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma had to remind several of his own members that when they are done talking to move away from the microphone.
But he saved the best for Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany. When Cleres legislation passed and Bosma called for the Senate sponsors, Clere said to be announced. This means he had not formally found a senator to carry his bill in that chamber.
Bosma replied, Really? After five weeks your sponsors are to be announced?
The states deadline to register to vote in the May 3 primary election is Monday, although technology has given people a few more hours to register.
Residents can now register online on computers or on their Internet-enabled mobile phones or devices. To accomplish this, go to www.indianavoters.com. The site not only allows people to check their registration status but also to register to vote.
Online registrations must be submitted by midnight Monday. So take a moment at halftime of the NCAA national championship game and do it. Residents can also register in person at their county registration office.
Monday also marks the first day residents can vote in the primary election. Early voting is available across the state. Specifically, it can be done in Allen County at the election board office on the first floor of the City-County Building.
Voting is available during normal business hours this week, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.