Political Notebook


Override generates tax pledge dilemma

Last week’s veto override posed an interesting question – did the legislators who voted for the bill to remain in law break a no-tax pledge?

House Bill 1546 contained key provisions that retroactively made legal collections of expired local option income taxes in two counties and continued the taxes into the future.

Without action to override the veto, those taxes in Jackson and Pulaski would have ceased, and taxpayers would have received refunds for taxes collected that weren’t authorized.

Twenty-eight current Indiana state lawmakers have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge that promises to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Of those 28, all but one supported the bill when it passed at the end of session. So some could argue they already broke the pledge.

Wednesday’s vote had 25 of the 28 support the bill and the override.

Locally, Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, has signed the pledge and voted against the bill and the override. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, also signed the pledge but supported the override.

In the House, Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, and Rep. David Ober, R-Albion, are the only area legislators to sign the pledge. Both voted for the override.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said some have speculated the vote will be used in campaigns against the members. But he contends the overall bill is a tax decrease because there are several tax credits also in the measure.

He said Americans for Tax Reform is neutral on the bill.

Coal fired up

Nine of the 11 members of Indiana’s congressional delegation have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to kill a proposed regulation on coal-fired power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency rule would impose the same limits on carbon dioxide emissions for new coal-fired and gas-fired energy sources. Coal generally emits much more carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas blamed for climate change – than natural gas does.

“This blanket standard will discourage the upgrade of existing sources and effectively prevent the construction of new coal-fired plants,” the Hoosier lawmakers contend in their letter to the president.

The regulation would “harm our economy and threaten the reliability of our electricity supply,” they write.

The legislators point out that Indiana is among the top 10 coal-producing states and employs 2,500 people in mining. They urge the EPA to adopt different carbon emission.

The letter is signed by all eight Republican lawmakers from Indiana but only one of three Democrats: freshman Sen. Joe Donnelly, who repeatedly has said he supports the exploration and production of all forms of energy.

Donnelly’s office noted that he was joined by three other Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – in sending a similar letter to the White House in March.

The Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit investigative reporting organization, says that Indiana is second in the nation, behind Ohio, in coal-power generation.

‘Eye candy’

Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown attended Tuesday’s Fort Wayne City Council meeting for its discussion on wholesale sewage rates and the city’s contract – or lack thereof – with Huntertown. But while others did the talking, Brown stood behind them quietly, at least until council members thought the discussion was over. Then Brown moved to speak.

“I’m sorry, I thought you were just, … ” began committee Chairman Glynn Hines, D-6th.

“ … Eye candy, I know,” Brown finished for him, to laughter all around.

By Friday’s Allen County commissioners’ meeting, all eyes were again on Brown, but for a much different reason.

She had a poison sumac rash on her arm and held it up to the shock and horror of other commissioners and the sparse audience.

She also had a new nickname: “Itchy.”

Coats at Chamber

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., will speak to the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce on June 24.

Coats will appear at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. in the Women’s Club of the Chamber building, 826 Ewing St.

He will speak about immigration legislation, the federal health care law and possible changes to the income tax code. Coats also will answer questions.

The cost is $30 for Chamber members, $40 for nonmembers and $500 for tables of eight people.

Journal Gazette writer Dan Stockman contributed to this story.

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