You know, the Indiana House process can be confusing even for the most seasoned state representative.
Enter Phil Hinkle, House District 92.
Phil is a friend of mine, so I tread carefully on this post. As many of you know, he reads this regularly frequently, and I will not get personal. However, I think this bears note.
Hinkle is upset that his Democratic opponent, Brett Voorhies did a literature drop in Speedway saying that Hinkle voted to support school consolidation once. He urges voters in the piece to not allow Hinkle to vote for consolidation again. The piece pictures Speedway Junior High and says, "Save Speedway Schools." It never directly says that Hinkle voted to consolidate Speedway schools at all. It may imply it, but it doesn't say it.
Hinkle has made this a point of contention in this election saying that Voorhies is not telling the truth about Hinkle's record. He is calling Brett a liar, and he did a literature drop of his own saying that Brett will do anything to get elected.
The fact of the matter is that in Committee on March 10, 2009, Hinkle did vote to combine Senate Bill 348, Senate Bill 506, Senate Bill 512, and Senate Bill 521 into Senate Bill 452 which was, essentially, the Kernan Shepard Report recommendations. Senate Bill 521, as you see, dealt with school consolidation as the synopsis reads:
"School corporation reorganization. Requires school corporations with an average daily membership (ADM) of less than 500 students to merge with another school corporation or school corporations. Provides for the preparation of a comprehensive reorganization plan by a county committee, public hearings on the plan, and approval by the state board of education. Provides for the development of a comprehensive reorganization plan by the state board of education for school corporations that fail to reorganize by 2013. Requires the department of education (department) to develop standards for educational opportunity and operational efficiency for school corporations. Requires a school corporation with an ADM of greater than 499 students and less than 1,000 students to demonstrate to the department that it meets the standards, and, if unable to do so, to merge with another school corporation or school corporations. Provides that the reorganization provisions do not apply to a charter school."
Now, it should be noted that the School Town of Speedway would not have qualified for either provision of the bill. Speedway has approximately 1,500 students enrolled. Politically, I don't know if that matters. It's up to Hinkle to point these things out.
While this vote never came up in front of the full House, it did come up in front of a committee Hinkle was on. The first time through, Hinkle voted no on the amendment to combine the four bills with SB 452. That vote was a 6-6 tie. The second time through, Hinkle changed his vote to yes, and the bill was amended by a 7-5 vote. Senate Bill 521 became a part of SB 452 at that point. In the final vote, SB 452 was defeated easily. It never passed out of committee.
Hinkle never voted in that final tally.
No one knows how Hinkle would have voted in the full House vote. He very likely could have voted against the measure had the bill passed out of committee. However, it is clear that he voted "YES" at the committee level to include SB 521 in SB 452. He could have voted no on that provision, killing SB 521 there, but he decided not to do so and, in fact, changed his vote after it tied on the first vote. Thus, since he did not vote "NO" to the amendment combining Senate Bill 521 into 452 and then took a pass on the final vote, I don't believe Voorhies is lying. His last recorded vote on the issue is "YES".
Voorhies is, in fact, apparently correct on this, and, in the campaign season, Hinkle should know that any little vote is fair game, even at the committee level. Voorhies has every right to make a campaign issue out of it. It's simply not a lie.
As far as Hinkle goes, his aggressive response is surprising. It took me all of 20 minutes to find what I needed to find to write this blog post. I think it would have been easy for him or his campaign folks to find exactly what happened with SB 521 and be able to explain it coherently to the public. Instead of saying, "LIAR LIAR." Hinkle could have explained his vote in any number of easy ways and stated his position on school consolidation.
I'll leave you guys to fill in the blanks from there, but, when you're an incumbent, it seems you should be used to things like this.