Most Indiana lawmakers back Chamber of Commerce policy positions

2013-07-05T19:45:00Z 2013-07-06T10:17:04Z Most Indiana lawmakers back Chamber of Commerce policy positionsDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
July 05, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | A new vote analysis of the 2013 legislative session shows the Republican-controlled General Assembly — except for a handful of region Democrats — was practically a wholly owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber, Indiana's most powerful business organization, rated lawmakers based on how often their votes during the January-April session corresponded with the group's priorities, which generally included lower taxes and fewer regulations for Hoosier companies and more charter and private school choices.

In the House, 69 of 100 representatives voted in line with the chamber at least 70 percent of the time, qualifying them for potential endorsement in 2014 by Indiana Business for Responsive Government, the chamber's political action committee.

In the Senate, 39 of 50 members backed the chamber's policy positions at least 70 percent of the time.

"It was another successful session for Hoosier businesses and their workers," chamber President Kevin Brinegar said. "Legislators, for the most part, voted to grow jobs and move our state forward — and the results show it."

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, earned a 100 percent rating from the chamber, meaning every one of his votes on business, education and other policy issues supported the chamber's position.

He was the only lawmaker in the House or Senate to attain a perfect score.

“I appreciate the chamber keeping legislators accountable by publishing their 'Legislative Vote Analysis' annually," Bosma said. "Many of the issues we vote on are vital to Indiana's economy and will have a direct impact on job growth."

Among Northwest Indiana lawmakers, the eight Republicans all scored at least 77 percent on the chamber's vote record, with state Reps. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, and Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville, tied for the highest at 92 percent.

Chamber ratings for other region Republicans were: state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, 91 percent; state Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, 86 percent; state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, 86 percent; state Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, 86 percent; state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, 83 percent; and state Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, 77 percent.

Soliday, who was singled out by the chamber for his leadership on business issues, said he was humbled by his high rating.

"As a legislator, I am intent on finding ways to improve our state's attractiveness for people wanting to start a family here and find a rewarding job," Soliday said. "Having a lean government that is fiscally responsible lays the foundation for economic success."

Northwest Indiana Democrats tended to vote against chamber positions more often than any other group, earning scores ranging from 45 to 74 percent.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, was just one point away from earning the lowest chamber rating with his 45 percent score.

Chamber scores for the other region Democratic House members were: state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, 48 percent; House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, 49 percent; state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, 51 percent; state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, 52 percent; state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, 53 percent; state Rep. Earl Harris, D-East Chicago, 54 percent; and state Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, 63 percent.

Region Democratic senator scores were state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, 65 percent; state Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, 66 percent; state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, 69 percent; state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, 71 percent; and state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, 74 percent.

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