INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana’s legislative leaders are holding their cards
tight as they prepare for a battle over amending the state constitution to
ban gay marriage.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Monday that he expects some
sort of conclusion by the end of the General Assembly’s 2014 session. Senate
President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he still is polling his
members before deciding how to handle the issue.
Indiana already limits marriage to being between one man and one woman, but
supporters of a constitutional amendment say it is needed to prevent a court
from overturning state law. Bosma and Long both said Monday the issue is not
a top priority in either chamber, where they oversee large Republican
“We have to deal with the issue with dignity and respect for opposing
viewpoints. We can’t call people bigots or sinners or whatever,” Bosma said.
“We have to deal with this and work through it, whether we want to or not,
together as Hoosiers and bring this 12-year discussion to a conclusion in
one direction or another.”
He declined, however, to say when the issue might come to a vote.
Bosma and Long detailed their 2014 legislative priorities Monday along with
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, and Senate Minority
Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s annual
Lawmakers return Tuesday for a formal meeting but do not plan to meet again
until January, when their 2014 session begins.
Bosma added Monday that lawmakers may need to step into the middle of the
ongoing education “civil war” between Democratic Schools Superintendent
Glenda Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence. He did not say how lawmakers
might intervene in the battle, but said he and others have been working
behind the scenes to cool down both sides.
Ritz has blamed Pence’s creation of a second education agency for an ongoing
power struggle, which flared last week when she abruptly ended a State Board
of Education meeting. Pence has called her claims that he’s trying to take
over the state Department of Education a misunderstanding.
Both issues have the potential to crowd out other items leaders from both
sides say they would like to focus on during the 2014 session. All four
leaders said they would like to find ways to expand early childhood
education across the state, but Republicans and Democrats are likely to have
very different ideas for accomplishing that.
Bosma and Long said they would like to eliminate the state’s personal
property tax, which is largely levied by local governments on business
equipment. Pelath and Lanane said the state needs to find better ways to
improve earnings for workers. And all four said they plan to continue
working on job training initiatives begun during this past session.