INDIANAPOLIS | House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, is not impressed with the proposals approved so far by the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly, which reached the midpoint of its 2014 legislative session Tuesday.
"If we're merely here to work on banalities and if we're merely here to indulge the backward-looking fantasies of a ceaseless right-wing agenda, I think it's maybe time to consider whether it's best for the people of Indiana if we just adjourned," he said.
Pelath said the days wasted on a marriage amendment "that should be thrown in the trash" and hours spent debating such pressing issues as feral cats, cursive writing and a tax break that counties already can give companies, shows Republican leaders — including Gov. Mike Pence — aren't serious about improving the state.
"What bold direction are we getting out of these supermajorities?" Pelath asked.
Pelath said Democratic proposals to boost the minimum wage, improve public schools, award tax credits to college students "to keep the best and brightest in Indiana," eliminate the gender wage gap and reduce sexual assault — which affects one in six Hoosier women and girls — have been killed by GOP leaders, often without even a hearing.
"It's clear there's not a willingness to tackle the real issues that are facing Indiana," Pelath said.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, doesn't agree that state lawmakers haven't done much worthwhile.
"I actually feel very good about where we are right now," Bosma said.
He cited House passage of a county-option business personal property tax exemption, approval of a preschool pilot program for up to 1,000 low-income children, the decision to immediately spend $400 million set aside last year for future state road projects and the elimination of obsolete regulations as important accomplishments.
"We've sent quite a bit of very good legislation over to the Senate and I know they've sent quite a bit our way as well," Bosma said. "I'm looking forward to bringing the second half of the session to a very successful conclusion and ultimately doing what's right for Hoosiers."
Lawmakers return to the Statehouse Monday where the Senate Rules Committee will take up House Joint Resolution 3, a proposal to add the state's existing ban on gay marriage to the Indiana Constitution.