Both ends of Market

Street saw plenty of political movement this week. Aside from raucous

protestors chanting down the governor's State of the State and the Democrats'

return to the House chambers, lawmakers advanced the statewide smoking ban bill

out of committee and the first meeting of the Indianapolis

City-County Council

got off to a rocky start as partisan bickering

interfered with the councilors accomplishing any substantive business.

Council Gets Off to Rocky Start

What

should have been a mostly ceremonial night quickly turned into a partisan flare

up.With Democrats controlling a

16-13 majority, one of their first orders of business was to reduce the number

of minority members on the Rules Committee from 5-3 to 6-2.

The

Rules committee is where major policy decisions like redistricting or the

smoking ban are vetted. Republicans protested the move saying they weren't given any notice,

which led to an animated debate between Majority Leader Vernon Brown and Minority

Leader Mike McQuillen

. And then, reportedly after the full Council meeting,

the committee reconvened and Brown is alleged to have offered a plan that

reduced minority party representation by one vote on every committee except for

parks and ethics. That allegedly

led to an exchange between Brown and newly elected President

Maggie Lewis

, who was troubled by Brown's proposal. Brown ended up

walking out.

Lewis

later said, via text, she ended the meeting because Brown and McQuillen weren't going to agree on anything. She says she is confidant things will

work out, however, she also says she is not in the mood for political games,

from either side of the aisle. The

end result of this, for now, is that there are no committee assignments, which

mean no measures, such as the proposed smoking

ban

, can be heard because there is no committee to hear them.

As

the week progressed, council members began to resolve their differences and

move forward with the business of committee assignments.

House Committee Airs Smoking Ban

Proposal

A

proposal that would ban smoking in virtually all bars and taverns got its first

hearing on Monday. More than 30

people testified on House Bill 1139 which would ban smoking in all public

places except for cigar bars, hookah bars, private clubs and the gaming section

of casinos.

On Wednesday the committee voted to

advance the bill for debate on the House floor.

Proponents called it necessary to

protect public health while opponents said it would hurt business and give some

establishments at unfair advantage.For example if a town had a bar and a private club, smokers would join

the private club since smoking was allowed and the bar would lose revenue.

A similar measure is pending in the

Indianapolis City-County Council, however the two sides are deadlocked over

banning smoking in private clubs. Supporters say smoking should be banned in private club that allows

minors and accuse Indianapolis

Mayor Greg Ballard

of flip-flopping on the issue. A spokesman for the mayor says private clubs

should make that decision for themselves, but has offered a compromise that

clubs be smoke free on days where children are present.

House Democrats Return to the Floor

After

remaining in caucus for three days over "right to work" legislation, Indiana

House Democrats

returned to the floor, but there was no guarantee they

would stay. Democrats denied

Republicans a quorum by refusing to convene, thus preventing the bill from

being assigned to a committee.

Minority

Leader Pat Bauer

, D-South Bend, had maintained that the Republicans were

moving too fast on "right to work" and there needed to be more time

to hold public hearings. Republicans called it a delay tactic. Democrats denied it was the possibility of $1,000 a day

fines kicking in after a three-day absence was the real motivation for their

return. However, Bauer has

admitted that they cannot stay out indefinitely and during a Democrat public

hearing on "right to work" over the weekend, Rep. Win Moses, D-Ft.

Wayne, acknowledged that Republicans have the votes to pass the bill.A vote on the full House floor could

come as early as Friday.

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