Political Notebook

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Lawmakers get pro-business grades

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently released its annual Legislative Vote Analysis, in which it tracks whether lawmakers support Chamber positions on myriad bills.

The publication details the pro-business voting records for state lawmakers during the 2012 session. Some of the key votes this year included making Indiana a right-to-work state, implementing a statewide smoking ban and eliminating the inheritance tax.

“The thing that really stands out is how much the vote scores have gone up in recent years – Democrats and Republicans alike,” Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said. “In fact, this year a total of 15 legislators scored 100 percent. Overall, what this shows is the support for prosperity issues continues to grow, and that reflects where Hoosiers are.”

Legislators who score 70 percent or greater for the most recent two-year voting period are eligible for endorsement by Indiana Business for Responsive Government, the Chamber’s political action committee.

Interestingly, the right-to-work vote was so important that the Chamber decided to count it twice.

As expected, local Democrats fared much worse than Republicans. But some GOP lawmakers from northeast Indiana also had lower scores.

Here is how local legislators fared:

•Rep. Dick Dodge, R-Pleasant Lake – 2012: 100 percent; two-year average: 94 percent.

•Rep. Jeffrey Espich, R-Uniondale – 2012: 100 percent; two-year average: 95 percent.

•Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne – 2012: 57 percent; two-year average: 54 percent.

•Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City – 2012: 100 percent; two-year average: 93 percent.

•Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse – 2012: 97 percent; two-year average: 93 percent.

•Rep. Matthew Lehman, R-Berne – 2012: 88 percent; two-year average: 91 percent.

•Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington – 2012: 93 percent; two-year average: 95 percent

•Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne – 2012: 93 percent; two-year average: 92 percent.

•Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne – 2012: 61 percent; two-year average: 46 percent.

•Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven – 2012: 100 percent; two-year average: 94 percent.

•Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake – 2012: 95 percent; two-year average: 93 percent.

•Rep. David Yarde, R-Garrett – 2012: 97 percent; two-year average: 95 percent.

•Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City – 2012: 85 percent; two-year average: 79 percent.

•Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange – 2012: 78 percent; two-year average: 83 percent.

•Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle – 2012: 89 percent; two-year average: 91 percent.

•Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn – 2012: 86 percent; two-year average: 87 percent.

•Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne – 2012: 92 percent; two-year average: 93 percent.

•Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne – 2012: 94 percent; two-year average: 94 percent.

Brave new world

It’s going to be a new political reality at the Indiana Statehouse next year.

In telling the Fort Wayne City Council it must fight as hard as it can for its needs at the legislature next session, John Ketzenberger said the atmosphere will be much different than in years past.

That’s because state government is losing a huge amount of institutional knowledge next year, according to the president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.

Not only will there be a new governor, but 40 percent of the state legislature will be in its first or second terms – barring upsets that could make that number even higher.

He specifically mentioned the departure of Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, and Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis. The two men serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and will take with them a combined 80 years of experience.

Locally, there will be at least three new state representatives: in newly drawn District 82; District 51, where Republican Rep. Dick Dodge is retiring; and District 52, where Rep. David Yarde did not seek another term.

In total, seven Republicans and 12 Democrats in the House did not seek re-election. Two GOP senators also are not running again.

Making nice

Politico reported last week that Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who defeated Lugar in the May 8 Republican primary election, “have apparently buried the hatchet.”

Politico’s Scott Wong wrote that six-term incumbent Lugar introduced Mourdock at the Senate Republicans’ weekly luncheon Tuesday.

As reported, Lugar asked National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn whether he could personally introduce Mourdock. Mourdock repaid the favor, praising the 80-year-old Lugar’s lifetime of public service to Indiana and the country.

“Lugar was ‘incredibly, incredibly gracious,’ Mourdock told reporters upon leaving the lunch,” Wong wrote.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said in an email: “Arrangements were made in advance for Lugar to make the introduction. It is a closed Senators-only meeting so I don’t know more.”

Mourdock’s campaign did not respond to a request for a comment.

Wong wrote that Lugar’s introduction of Mourdock “signified that the GOP is unified behind Mourdock as he heads into the November general election against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee even emailed the Politico story to news media.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., was at Tuesday’s luncheon. He told Politico, “I’ve gotten the sense that Senator Lugar has reached out to (Mourdock) in friendship, and Richard has acknowledged receipt of that, and I’m very pleased with what took place today.”

Stutzman on tap

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, will be among the scheduled speakers at a religious freedom rally Saturday at the downtown Courthouse Green.

He “will give a briefing about efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the encroachment of government on religious liberty,” according to rally organizers.

Stutzman, a former state lawmaker who was elected to Congress in 2010, is being challenged in the Nov. 6 general election by Democrat Kevin Boyd, a local Presbyterian pastor.

Others scheduled to speak at the rally are physician Tom McGovern and former WOWO radio-show host Pat Miller, who “will present an outline for winning at the ballot box in November,” according to a news release.

Organizers include representatives of Scandinavia House Fort Wayne, Lutherans for Life, Allen County Right to Life and the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

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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