Political Notebook

  • Fries gets Farm nod
    Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries has received the endorsement of the Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT in his primary election race for the District 15 Indiana State Senate seat.
  • Wyss honored by commissioners
    The Allen County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday paid tribute to retiring state Sen. Tom Wyss at its legislative recap breakfast.
  • 3 Democrats to talk taxes
    Democratic candidates for state auditor, a state Senate seat and Wayne Township trustee will have a joint appearance Monday to talk about Earned Income Tax Credit programs and helping low-income Hoosiers file their tax returns.
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Right-to-work about-face

In ’06, Daniels said no change in laws needed

Gov. Mitch Daniels used to oppose the centerpiece of his legislative agenda – at least when he spoke to union members.

A September 2006 video of the governor giving a speech at the Teamsters 135 Union Stewards dinner surfaced showing he has had an extreme flip-flop on right-to-work.

“We cannot afford to have civil wars over issues that might divide us and divert us from that path,” he said.

“I have said over and over and I’ll say it again tonight, I’m a supporter of the labor laws we have in the state of Indiana. I’m not interested in changing any of them, not the prevailing wage laws and certainly not the right-to-work law.

“We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor and fair and free competition for everyone.”

Daniels’ spokesperson has said he changed his mind because of the recession and struggling national economy.

Quorum-busting

Much has been made about the House Democrats’ tactics last year and this session – breaking quorum to stop right-to-work legislation.

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma has made his opinion clear – that the caucus is abusing the constitutional requirement of two-thirds of the members to have a quorum.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated that it was a right to deny a quorum forever as has been exercised solely by the Democrat caucus here in the last year in the fashion that it has been exercised. There’s a quorum on my Lions Club board, the Kiwanis and everyone else so two or three people don’t get together and do something everyone else disagrees with.

“But to have a small number, a third essentially of legislators here, stop all business of the state while they work with their special interest folks on a single issue I don’t think was anticipated.”

According to a blog run by the National Conference of State Legislatures, in most states a legislative quorum to do business constitutes a simple majority of the members – making a minority party walkout inconsequential.

But in Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, two-thirds of the members constitute a quorum.

So what did the framers think when drafting that provision?

According to Vol. 2 of the Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Indiana Constitution in 1850, there was one discussion about the two-thirds requirement.

In it, delegate Colfax made a motion to amend the requirement to a simple majority. He said the two-thirds requirement for a quorum “is holding out an inducement for gentlemen who may be disposed to resist the passage of a law, to break a quorum.”

After cries of “no” and “consent” from the other members, a vote was taken and the amendment was rejected.

Dollars and votes

Last year’s mayoral race was not only the most expensive ever, it was also far more costly per vote for each candidate than it was four years ago.

Mayor Tom Henry spent nearly $1.3 million to win re-election in the fall over Republican Paula Hughes, who spent about $940,000. Despite these record sums, turnout was a record low, making the math not pretty in terms of per-vote costs.

Henry spent more than $54 per vote received in this election. Hughes spent almost $44 per vote, a fairly staggering sum compared to just four years ago.

In 2007, Henry spent far less on his campaign, yet still won thousands more votes. That year his per-vote cost was about $24. Republican Matt Kelty spent $28 per vote in a race where Henry cruised to victory because of the Republican’s legal troubles.

Independent mayoral candidate Haley Ahrendt did not file a campaign finance report, but if he kept his promise of keeping his expenses to $200, he would have spent about 11 cents per vote this year.

Statehouse filings

A few more area folks filed candidate paperwork last week to run for Indiana House seats.

Angola dentist Dennis Zent will seek the Republican nomination for the House District 51 seat. The seat is currently held by Rep. Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake, but he is not seeking re-election.

Republican Martin Carbaugh is running for the House District 81 seat in Fort Wayne. The financial consultant would like to face Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, in the general election.

Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, is seeking re-election in House District 83.

Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, filed to run again in House District 84.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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