[r79] In Lehman's Terms 4/20/09 (4/20/2009)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Start Date: 4/20/2009 All Day
End Date: 4/20/2009

STATEHOUSE - Time sure does move quickly. It seems like yesterday I was unpacking my lamps and settling into my apartment here in Indy.

We are down to the last eight days of session and I am packing up my stuff this week to move back home. The 29th is our last scheduled day.

I use the term "scheduled day" because if we do not have the budget completed or the unemployment insurance fund on its way back to recovery, we will be coming back to resolve these issues.

I see no reason why we cannot reach an agreement. With the amount of time we have wasted down here and as poorly as the leadership has guided our calendar, it would be a shame to tell the taxpayers our work is not finished.

The budget is the biggie. This is the only issue that, by law, we have to complete. We could come here in January, pass a budget and go home. Instead, we passed a very poorly written budget out of the House, let the Senate basically write a new budget and now we try to bring the two together with some compromise.

Here is the rub: A lot of bad stuff can and does go into the budget. If an expenditure could not get enough support on its own, it can end up in the budget. For example, there is talk the CIB bailout may end up in the budget. Therefore, it forces us to vote on a bill that may end up including a decent budget but may have some nasty stuff in it.

The budget and other important issues are now in the hands of a conference committee. A quick civics lesson: If a bill passes one house and is amended in the other house, the author of the original bill has the right to concur or dissent. If he concurs, the bill moves on to the governor. If the author dissents, a committee of four - two Democrats, one from the House and one from the Senate, and two Republicans from the House and the Senate - meet to hammer out an agreement. When all agree, the committee report is voted on by both houses and, if it passes, is sent to the governor.

On the bigger issues and even on some of the other issues, the committee will also have other legislators on the committee as advisors so that several people may be working on the final product.

OK lesson over.

These next eight days of session will be like watching sausage being made. It won't be pretty, and most of our nerves are at the height of sensitivity.

If this past week was any example of what lies ahead, I can begin to understand the distrust and disgust people have for this wonderful institution. I will address a couple if incidents from this past week.

On Wednesday we had put in a pretty long day. We started at 10 a.m., and at 4 p.m., we were told we were taking a break until 7:30 p.m. This was the same time as the Tea Party anti-tax rally, and Speaker Pat Bauer said we were recessing for security reasons.

I felt quite safe and secure as I mingled among the 2,000 or 3,000 people at the rally. They were peaceful, respectful and courteous but also down right angry. I saw a righteous anger among these people. A stroke of irony that I thought was interesting was a sign that said "Taxation with representation ain't so hot, either," and the guy was standing on the base of the George Washington statue on the south lawn.

The image that I will remember for a long time was a little girl, about 9 years old, holding a sign that said "I didn't want to spend $42,105. That is my share of the '09 federal spending"

The burden we are placing on our children and grandchildren is shameful. Absolutely shameful.

Back to my story . We came back at 7:30 with several bills still left on the calendar. We were making pretty good time when Rep. Bill Davis (our neighbor to the south) was recognized for a motion. As Bill was preparing to speak, Speaker Bauer saw that Rep. Davis's motion was a motion to suspend the rules and debate SJR1 - the tax caps bill.

Speaker Bauer ruled Rep Davis out of order, and, before you knew it, the Democrats made a motion to adjourn and the room emptied.

I was a bit surprised. Why is this an issue we cannot have an open and honest debate about? Several bills died on the calendar because they would rather walk out then talk about an issue that 60 to 70 percent of Hoosiers want to see debated.

The incident that was the proverbial frosting on the cake actually started back in February. Early in the session, Congressman Baron Hill, a Democrat, paid a visit to the chambers, and, as should be the custom, he was allowed to address the assembly. He spoke for about 20 minutes, and we then returned to the issues of the day.

Fast forward to last Wednesday. Congressman Mike Pence, a Republican, visited the chambers. When House Republican Leader Brian Bosma asked for permission for Congressman Pence speak, it was denied.

That was bad enough, but when Rep. Bosma asked for a point a personal privilege to at least introduce the Congressman, that was denied. It was like watching the playground bully push the nerdy kid into the bushes as you sat there helpless.

It was a purely political move, and the Democrat leadership should be ashamed of its behavior.

I must say that I truly am looking forward to the next eight days. I hope and pray that we can complete the people's work on time.

Keeping things in Lehman's terms,
Rep. Matt Lehman