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
City-County Councilgot off to a rocky start as partisan bickering
interfered with the councilors accomplishing any substantive business.
Council Gets Off to Rocky Start
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.
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
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
Maggie Lewis, who was troubled by Brown's proposal. Brown ended up
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
ban, can be heard because there is no committee to hear them.
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 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
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
Mayor Greg Ballardof 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
remaining in caucus for three days over "right to work" legislation, Indiana House Democrats
House Democratsreturned 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
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.