Political Notebook

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Marvella Bayh legacy part of state’s history

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, has written an article about Marvella Bayh, the first wife of former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, for the fall issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History.

Paddock’s article stretches across 10 pages of the magazine and is accompanied by several photos of the Bayhs; their son, Evan Bayh, future governor and U.S. senator; and two Kennedy brothers, Robert and Edward.

“I was a volunteer in many Birch Bayh campaigns in the 1970s and had met Marvella a number of times,” Paddock said in an email.

“She was quite a well-known person in her own right and was well-respected by her work.”

Marvella Bayh, who died at 46 from cancer in 1979, was highly regarded for her work on behalf of the American Cancer Society and her advocacy for equal rights for women.

The article headline, “A Shining Example,” is taken from a letter she received from a cancer patient thanking her for alerting the woman to warning signs of the disease.

Paddock tracks Marvella’s life from her Oklahoma childhood (growing up in a farmhouse that lacked plumbing and electricity) through her courtship with Birch, their marriage and their ever-rising profile in Indiana and then Washington.

There are plenty of highlights – successful election campaigns and her job as a Washington TV reporter in 1974 among them – but many low points, too: the 1964 plane crash injuring the Bayhs and Sen. Edward Kennedy;

Marvella’s battles with cancer; and the devastation she felt after her father killed his second wife and himself in 1970.

“I respected and admired Marvella,” Paddock said, adding that “it was appropriate to tell her story again. It was first told in her autobiography, published in the early 1980s.”

Traces is published by the Indiana Historical Society. Paddock said the magazine is available at some local bookstores.

Things kids say

Hundreds of fourth-graders recently visited the Indiana Statehouse to celebrate Indiana’s 197th birthday. And they left behind some ideas.

Gov. Mike Pence said the youngsters were asked what they would do if they were governor.

Some of the answers caught his eye:

•Make everyone have a pet.

•Put a soda fountain in the middle of the building.

•“Put my face on the dollar bill.”

•Help with freedom and make good laws.

•Make roads bigger.

•Lower all the prices.

•Make more jobs.

Consolidation

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and two colleagues said Tuesday they have introduced legislation that would combine the Labor and Commerce departments into a single agency.

“By consolidating agencies, we can eliminate duplicative and wasteful spending and take a step toward fiscal responsibility,” Coats said in a statement.

Joining him on the bill to create the Department of Commerce and the Workforce were Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

The three said in a news release that the Labor and Commerce departments have “substantially similar missions.”

Their bill would combine the administrative and support offices while preserving the independent functions of each agency.

The Labor Department says its mission is to promote the welfare of workers, job seekers and retirees, improve working conditions and ensure work-related benefits and rights.

Its fiscal 2014 budget request called for $12.1 billion in discretionary spending and 17,450 employees.

The Commerce Department says its mission is to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved living standards. Its website says it has a budget of $7.5 billion and 47,000 employees.

Heuer chosen

Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, was recently elected 2014 state director with Women In Government by her fellow state legislative colleagues. The state directors help ascertain important issues in their states so that Women In Government can tailor programming to these needs.

“I am honored to be elected by my colleagues to represent Indiana for the Women In Government Foundation,” Heuer said. “I believe that women’s representation in government can be empowering and set an example for more women to have their voices heard in state and national government.

“I look forward to learning and sharing different approaches on issues to help find the best possible solution to issues affecting women.”

Women In Government provides conferences that feature expert speakers on a variety of public policy topics and their impact on states.

Topics include health care reform, diabetes, emerging issues in energy policy, cervical cancer prevention, the current status of women in legislatures, childhood obesity, public health, economic security and opportunities and many others.

These meetings also provide attendees with the opportunity to network with colleagues across state borders and share best practices and experiences to advance successful public policies.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@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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