Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hill "Strongly" Considering 2016 Senate Run

Former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill
Baron Hill says he will "strongly consider" a run for U.S. Senate in 2016.

The former Congressman said in a statement that he is feeling "the passion to serve and to fight for our future."  In the statement, he also praised Dan Coats for his service to Indiana.

Coats said he would retire from the Senate at the end of his term in 2017 leaving the Republicans and Democrats scrambling to find candidates for 2016.

Hill actually ran for Senate before back in 1990.  He took on Coats in a Special Election to see who would fill the remaining two-plus years of Dan Quayle's unexpired term.  Coats had been appointed after Quayle became Vice President by Governor Robert Orr.  Hill waged a strong campaign literally walking much of the State of Indiana.  On Election Day, Coats won 53-46.

In 1998, Hill ran for Congress in the 9th District and held that seat for 10 of the next 12 years.  He was defeated by Todd Young in 2010 and has not run in the new 9th District.

Hill represents a candidate that has run in a statewide race in the past, that has fundraising capabilities, and has the ability to serve Indiana and Hoosiers well.

Former Indiana Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh has not categorically ruled out a run for Senate and would be the strongest candidate for the Democrats.  It should be noted that it's my understanding that Bayh and Hill are friends.

On the Republican side, Representatives Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, and Todd Young are rumored by Brian Howey to have some interest along with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, State Senator Jim Merritt, Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Coats Chief of Staff Eric Holcomb.

Summers Should Apologize to McMillin, Family Over Floor Debate Remarks

Rep. Vanessa Summers
Vanessa Summers was wrong.

During an Indiana House floor debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Monday, Summers, a Democrat, claimed Republican Jud McMillin's 18-month-old son is afraid of her because she is black.

Now, I have not walked a mile in Rep. Summers' shoes.  I am not black, but I've had plenty of young children be scared of me.

Rep. Jud McMillin
While Summers may think that this child was afraid of her because of her skin color, it more than likely didn't
have as much to do with anything other than he saw her as a stranger.  I see the kids of my friends who I have met before hiding under their parent's legs at the age of even three or four when they meet me. I've never thought to attribute it to anything else other than adults are scary people to a child...especially one that's a year and a half old.

I don't know Rep. Summers at all, but I know good people that know her.  Rep. Jeb Bardon, for example, retired from the Indiana House rather than face her in a Primary Election because of his respect for her as a friend and legislator.  Knowing how much he enjoyed serving his constituents, I can't imagine him stepping aside for just anyone.

I'm really not sure how this story ends up.  I just I hope that Representative Summers has found a moment to find Representative McMillin and apologize to him, to his family and to his little boy.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

John Gregg NO LONGER Silent on RFRA Controversy (SEE UPDATE)

John Gregg
I make no bones about it.  I'm a big fan of John Gregg, the guy with two first names who might be running for Governor.  He's my friend.

As I've previously said on this blog, I totally believe that Gregg can beat Governor Mike Pence in a statewide election, and I totally believe that he earned a second shot at the Governor's Office with the way he closed from double digits to just a few percentage points behind.  He's never really quit running for Governor, and he continues to opine on many issues on Twitter and Facebook as if he is a candidate for the office in 2016.

There is no more visible statewide Democrat running for the office right now.  That's why it's so disappointing to hear nothing from Gregg on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act just passed by the Indiana General Assembly.  The bill, after it will be passed through a conference committee will go to Pence's desk where he "looks forward" to signing it.

Social media has been alive with talk over this bill.  My Facebook and Twitter followers have been weighing in.  Even the folks from Gen Con have threatened to look at their future relationship with the City of Indianapolis if the bill is signed.  This could have long-lasting and long-standing economic ramifications for our state.

On a human level, it shows that Indiana doesn't value diversity or people of all kinds, no matter who they are or who they love.  It gives governmental permission to discriminate.  I have friends from conservative to liberal who are against it.

John Gregg has yet to tell us what he thinks about the bill.  Granted, it might be smart politics to let this play out, but this is a big one.  This could swing those last few percentage points as I know diversity-minded Republicans that are fed up with this legislature and General Assembly.  With gerrymandering, it's unlikely that Democrats will win back the Indiana General Assembly, so we need a strong Governor who is willing to take the hits and support Hoosiers of all sorts.  That's what's most important!

Is that you John Gregg?

Now, maybe I'm being unfair to John.  Baron Hill, Tom McDermott, and other possible candidates have yet to speak up, but they aren't running as hard as Gregg is.  John Gregg needs to tell us where he stands on the RFRA.

John Gregg responded at about 10:15 p.m. with this very heartfelt and impressive Facebook statement.

After a long day on the road, I am finally getting the chance to respond to what happened at the Statehouse today with RFRA. Please see my comments and share as you can...hopefully the Governor will listen. 
Fellow Hoosiers:
I sit at home tonight with my wife, Lisa. Many evenings we spend reading and I’ve just completed a series of biographies on many of our founding fathers. The current book is about Alexander Hamilton. My, what a talented, bright, independent, proud, freedom loving group of people: George Washington, Sam Adams, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Hancock, Ben Franklin and there were countless more. Many of these men were Christian, some were not but they all believed in religious freedom. That's why we have the First Amendment to the Constitution. 
I've always thought of the Constitution as something near sacred. Not to be messed with, because these founders got much of it right. And, their thoughts on the right to worship without interference from the government is mentioned as their NUMBER ONE concern, that's why it's the First Amendment. During the 2012 Campaign for Governor I mentioned time and time again, that we in Indiana needed to work on moving us forward together, creating better paying jobs, making college affordable, improving our public schools, infrastructure and the quality of life for the poor, aged and infirmed. 
All around the state I said to LEAVE SOCIAL ISSUES ALONE. Why we continue to ignore our problems is beyond me. 
As a born-again Christian, I am always amazed that many of my Christian brothers and sisters have done a great job of convincing other Americans what Christianity is 'against' but they never say what it's about. God is love. We are coming upon Easter, a very special time for me as a practicing Christian. I so look forward to our worship service that Sunday morning when I, as a private citizen, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. 
But there are some things that really nag at me. It's how a few of my fellow believers continue to ignore Christ’s teachings about the poor, sick, widows, orphans and the message of love. During the campaign I called some Christian groups who wouldn't meet with me because I was a Democrat. I was attacked by some of my fellow Christians because I campaigned for a gay man running for the State Senate. I was scorned by many pro-life groups because I belong to the Democrat Party. Can you believe it...I guess they believe the Bible condemns Democrats and anoints Republicans. As much as some of my fellow Christians dislike me because I'm a Democrat, I'm equally as concerned about others who mock me because of my faith. Well I've read the Bible cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation and there's no mention of Republican or Democrat. 
The US Constitution provides for Religious freedom, we don't need to try and rewrite the US Constitution here in Indiana...none of our current leaders: Pence, Ellsperman, Bosma, or Long, seem to compare with Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton or Washington. So why are they doing this? I believe they do it because they don't want us to look at their failure to govern the state in a responsible manner. 
Governor Pence, I think you need to look at history and ask yourself is this RFRA necessary? Does the U.S. Constitution really need improved upon? If you believe it does, then I'm sure you will sign it. But I do not believe it needs improved upon and do not understand why we need this legislation and would urge you to view it as unnecessary, unneeded and takes the focus away from our myriad of problems here in Indiana. 
Now get to work.
-John Gregg

In Memoriam: Rep. Earl Harris (1942-2015)

My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of State Representative Earl Harris of East Chicago.  His death was announced by the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday.

Rep. Harris had served in the Indiana House since 1982 representing the 2nd District.  Fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised him for his work and his dedication to his constituents.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Rep. Harris, but it sounds like I missed out.  Rep. Harris was 73 years old.

Coats Say No to 2016 Run...Will Bayh Say Yes?

Senator Dan Coats
Dan Coats said today that he will not run for reelection in 2016.

That throws the race wide open for the person that will replace him.  Expect a VERY crowded Republican field that will likely include some sitting U.S. Representatives...both Todds (Young and Rokita) and Marlin Stutzman chief among them.

This news also comes a day after some said that Evan Bayh is thinking about potentially trying a comeback.  The Daily Kos reports that Bayh simply said that he has no interest in running for his old job, "at this point."  That was before Coats decided to retire for a second time.  Bayh has tons of campaign cash and would likely raise more.

Former Senator
Evan Bayh
If Bayh doesn't run, it would make sense for Baron Hill to possibly make a play for the job.  He's also been mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor, and he did run for Senate before.  I'd be interested to see what Indiana Democrats come forward to run for U.S. Senate if Bayh does not.

The Coats decision to not run makes me wonder if he knows something about Bayh's intentions.  While he cited his age in an interview with the Indy Star's Matt Tully, this is, as you may remember, exactly what happened in 1998 when Bayh first took on a run for Senate.  Coats decided to "retire" from the Senate at that time rather than take on the very popular Democrat.

Whatever happens, I hope Bayh makes a quick decision on his future and doesn't let this string out.  Any Democrat that decides to run will need the time to build name recognition to play for what likely will be an uphill battle if Bayh is out.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blog on Normal "Spring Break" from Daily Posting

Well, we've reached that moment in the spring where the blog goes on daily posting hiatus. I'm going to be taking a few days to step back and concentrate on my run for office.

There may still be postings here, but they won't be on my normal daily, Monday-Friday, posting schedule.  Daily posting will resume on April 6. As always, I'll still be writing here, just taking a break from daily posting, so make sure you follow me on Twitter @Johnnystir to get the latest from the blog or check back in.

Thanks again for all your support.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Act Up For Vote Any Day

Any day now, the Indiana House is due to vote on Senate Bill 101 which is better known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

I'm going to assume it will pass, and I'm also going to assume that Governor Mike Pence will sign the bill.  When he does, that will give people ammunition to use their religion as a weapon to justify discrimination in the Hoosier State.

We have come to yet another crossroads in the state known as the Crossroads of America.  The disdain some have for the rights of others to marry the person they feel they were meant to love has caused us to arrive at this moment in time for our state.  Opponents may not be able to stop same sex couples from getting hitched, but, by golly, they don't have to tolerate it in their place of business, and they can now justify it in their actions.

Some will cheer when the legislation is passed.  I'll shrug my shoulders because I'm used to it here in Indiana.  Actually, most classes of minorities have been persecuted at one point or another here in the Hoosier State.  Why should gay people be any different?  The good news is that somewhere, sometime that someone sees the light.

Last June, I was in Tennessee when news broke that I could someday get married in my home state of Indiana if I wanted to do so.  That was something I never thought I'd see, and I cried happy tears as I saw men and women like me running to the Clerk's Offices to get married.  I saw the tide moving fast as my friend Andy Markle and others reported county-by-county which ones were issuing marriage licenses.  While my smile grew broader that day, I imagine someone else in this state's sneer grew more.  His or her soul harder and heart less tolerant.  The seeds of this moment were planted to grow.  More divisiveness was the goal.

We live in a tough time right now.  The headlines from around the world aren't good, and some days it seems easier to lie in bed and let the day pass by.  Hoosiers don't do that.  We're at our hearts good people who pretty much want the same thing for our families, no matter the structure.

That's why it's so hard for me to believe that we can't find a way to let in a little ray of tolerance for one another.  Why can't we realize that life is way too short for these kinds of trivial pieces of legislation.  Whether we simply die and go away or we live forever in the afterlife, life here on Earth would be better in the meantime if we looked out for one another a little more. This bill won't accomplish anything but make it harder to do that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Angie's List Proposal On Brink

It appears Angie’s List is about to get what it wants: $18.5 million in our tax dollars, courtesy the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council.

As you may remember, a proposed plan in front of the Council hands Angie’s List an $18.5 million shot in the arm and will allow the company to buy the old Ford plant and build a 500-car parking garage. The promise from the company is 1,000 new or relocated jobs to Indianapolis by 2019. 

This is the second time that the proposal passed through the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee., the full council sent the proposal back to committee at its March 2 meeting. Final adoption of the Angie’s List proposal could come as early as the March 30 full Council meeting.

It’s true that Indianapolis struggles to find good economic development projects outside of the mile square and especially in areas like the Near-Eastside. With that said, we cannot have an “any port in a storm” mentality when it comes to vetting these deals. Angie’s List, by its own performance, has left a number of questions as to whether it can or ever will live up to its end of the bargain. I have no doubt that the organization is solvent and isn’t about to go under, but how can we trust a company that has rarely turned a profit and just reduced its workforce by 97 jobs in August?

I just think it's too questionable.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Daniels Wants You to "Bet on a Boiler"

Purdue President Mitch Daniels
Sometimes, I don't even know where to start on something.  This would be one of those moments, so I'll just jump in.

You know how famous people or people with a lot of money will sometimes decide to donate a portion of that money to a school or to an endowment to fund scholarships?  Students then can qualify for those scholarships and take advantage of it to pay for post-secondary education.

Purdue President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wants to turn that system on its head.

Instead of students taking out loans from a bank, Daniels wants to turn to investors (or alumni) to fund a student's education in exchange for a share of future earnings of that student.  He wanted to call the plan, "Bet on a Boiler".  No joke.

This sounds like a bad reality or game show.  Some have called it "indentured servitude" or worse.  Daniels says he needs some legislation to make his plan legal, and he plans to try to sell it to Congress.  I guess we'll see if he's successful.

I'm all for ways to fund college for people that want to go, but I think this creates an awfully slippery slope here.  I hate using that term, but this program really has bad idea written all over it to me.

Religious Freedom Restoration Bill Passes Committee

The so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration" bill passed out of the Indiana House Judiciary Committee and on to second reading for more amendments.

The bill, which would allow individuals of faith to discriminate on how they offer services based upon their religious beliefs now simply needs a marjority of House members and Governor Pence's signature to become law.

Translation: We're "this close" to putting discrimination into law in Indiana.

Freedom Indiana is doing its part.  They had a rally at the Statehouse yesterday morning which was followed by a rally of supporters of the law.  Freedom Indiana had this to say about the Judiciary Committee's decision:

"We're disappointed that the committee didn't heed warnings about the unintended consequences this bill will have on Indiana's economy and Hoosier families. 
"We're encouraged, however, that lawmakers were willing to make changes to improve the bill. We hope they are open to continuing the dialogue about protecting those who will be most negatively affected should Senate Bill 101 become law.

"On behalf of the more than 50,000 people who are part of Freedom Indiana, we will continue to fight this dangerous legislation, and we will make sure our voices are heard."
The fight goes on for this one.