May 7, 2019 By Emily KettererTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS – Sen. Greg Taylor told members of the Senate to “buckle up” for another one of his lengthy speeches on hate crimes.Taylor, of Indianapolis, is one of 10 Democrats in the 50-member Senate and he knows he won’t change anybody’s mind because the issue has already been decided. He and Democrats in the General Assembly are vocal even if they know it, they stand little chance of changing legislation with one party ruling the chamber.“This is the part of democracy that we all miss,” Taylor said. “Everybody believes when we get up on the floor and we’re having a discussion, we’re debating the issue.“What we’re talking about here is making sure the public understands what we’re saying.”Republicans control two-thirds or more of the seats in each chamber in the General Assembly, enough to convene and pass laws without Democrats. The last time they wielded any significant influence was in 2012 when Republicans passed right-to-work laws that undercut unions. Democrats walked out, stopping work in the House because Republicans did not have a quorum to pass laws alone. That is impossible now.The Republican party has held the supermajority in the Senate since the 1990s, but in the House, the majority parties flip-flopped until 2010 when Republicans look over and eventually gained a supermajority.Indiana joins 22 other states whose legislatures hold supermajorities in one or both chambers, and the state is one of 16 Republican supermajorities.The GOP controls so many seats because Indiana is a red state, said Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis. He said there may be one or two Indiana districts that maybe don’t belong in his party, but overall, Republicans still win the most votes.“We run good campaigns,” Merritt said. “It’s still a Republican state.”That doesn’t mean they leave the Democrats out on the Senate floor, even though they could, he said.But on a major vote Senate Republicans did vote on bills without Democrats present. That happened in February after Democrats walked out in protest to an amendment that stripped down the hate crimes bill.That was a rare event, Merritt said, adding, “It happened once this year, but that was because we had to get work done.”But most of the time the GOP majority includes the minority party, Merritt said. “They’re Hoosiers. It’s important to have a bridge between the two parties.”Still, being in a minority position left Democrats to address the issues on their agenda through amendments to existing bills.Raising teacher pay was one of their biggest goals and Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, offered amendments to raise salaries to a $40,000 minimum. He was quickly shut down.Paid family leave was another issue, and Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, had a bill that passed the Senate but failed to get a hearing in the House.And on the budget, Democrats in the House called 27 amendments and only passed one and a half, which did include protections for pre-existing conditions in health insurance. The Senate Democrats passed five budget amendments out of 31 called.As a result of the imbalance in power, much of the debate occurs within the parties behind closed doors in caucus meeting without input from the other side. Democrats argue that even though those meetings are legal for both parties, they discourage open debate and undermine democracy.“While we’re talking about what-ifs,” Taylor said of Democrats. “They’re [Republicans] talking about what’s going to happen.”This was made clear during the process of passing the hate crimes legislation. Senate Republicans made the decision in caucus to strip out the list of protected characteristics, including race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and more, from the original bill. The Democrats protested the change, and there was little debate from the majority party on the floor and the bill passed without the list.“A lot of people that day didn’t talk on the topic because we did more listening than we did talking,” Merritt said. “The chamber hadn’t been that quiet all session.”Similarly, in the House, a public committee hearing was not given to the original hate crimes bill, and Republicans added hate crimes language into a drug sentencing bill. This was all done behind closed doors in caucus meetings.“What happened in the House was obnoxious, cowardly, disrespectful misuse of the system,” said Tallian on the Senate floor as senators were about to send the bill to the governor. “There was no committee debate. Instead, it was slipped in a second-reading amendment like a thief in the night.”However, Merritt said party caucus meetings are not used to make decisions behind closed doors. He said he and his party use their meetings to learn more about the issues to be on the same page because some lawmakers know more about a topic than others.“We haven’t squashed debate,” Merritt said. “I really didn’t know a lot about payday loans until we started caucusing, just having conversations. You can’t really do that on the floor.”But having a majority that can do what they want without the other party ultimately doesn’t serve the legislature very well, said Republican Rep. Dan Leonard of Huntington, who has been in both the minority and majority party during his time in the General Assembly.He said he hates supermajorities because that can lead to the majority party getting “sloppy” when passing bills. He said in order to pass better legislation, both parties need to have equal say.“You get to the point where I could say, ‘I don’t want to listen to you, I don’t have time for you. And it’s not going to make a difference anyway because we’re going to outvote you,’” Leonard said. “A supermajority makes it worse because we don’t even need the Democrats. They can just walk out.”Bringing the voices “There’s a lot of things that the Indiana Democrats would probably love to see pass in the legislation, but they know darn well that’s not going to happen,” said Laura Merrifield Wilson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis.“They can’t necessarily prevent bills from becoming laws, but they can do everything in their power to challenge and critically analyze.”Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said as the minority, they know they don’t have a huge impact, and they also know they can’t just do nothing.“We may not have the votes all the time, but we have the voices,” Lanane said. “And if we just sit there and do nothing, then we have failed.”In the House, DeLaney said he feels like he is shouting into the void to his Republican colleagues because sometimes they don’t always pay attention to him.He cited the cigarette tax as an example. He said no one in the Republican party will get up and say that smoking isn’t bad, but still won’t listen to Democrats. An amendment to increase the tax was proposed one final time on the state budget when it was in the Senate, and Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, said––speaking on behalf of the Senate Republicans–– he and the caucus support a tax, just not this year.Merrifield Wilson said in most cases, the Indiana Democrats have to stick together to keep their numbers in votes, and for Republicans, they are at a bigger risk for speaking out against their own party in terms of their reputation.“For the Republicans that disagree, you’re not disagreeing with the opposition here, you’re disagreeing with your own party. There’s a lot more at stake for them … they understand the larger picture,” Merrifield Wilson said.But Merritt said members of his party feel free to vote their conscience and cites the Senate’s original hate crimes bill as an example. He was among seven Senate Republicans to vote against the stripped-down legislation.“What I do is when I do that, I make myself clear on what my position is,” he said.Like hate crimes, there are issues that cut across party lines. The bill that expands gambling to allow sports wagering and a new casino in Terre Haute needed the support of both parties. The final vote in the House was 59-36 with 22 Democrats and 37 Republicans voting yes.At the end of the session, Lanane noted that Democrats were instrumental in killing a controversial payday lending bill that would have allowed lenders to charge interest rates far exceeding the state’s 72 percent annual limit.“Thank goodness for the Democrats,” he said.FOOTNOTE: Emily Ketterer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
We haven’t heard much from Daft Punk since the release of their multiple Grammy-winning album Random Access Memories in 2013. But it looks like that may be changing soon. In an interview with Billboard, Republic Records executive Wendy Goldstein was asked a question about what artists she’s always wanted to work with, and answered–rather nonchalantly–with some exciting news: “Actually, we [Goldstein and fellow hitmaker Ron Perry] have a session coming up in two days with The Weeknd and Daft Punk. I’m a massive Daft Punk fan, and this is the first time that I’ve actually been involved with an artist who’s going to go and work with them.”While this is the only information we have about the reported session, this is definitely exciting news for fans of both The Weeknd and Daft Punk. Watch the full video below (or skip to 2:39 for Goldstein’s comment):[h/t – YourEDM]
20Aug Rep. Hank Vaupel Weekly Column: August 20, 2018 Last Saturday was the very first VetFest hosted at Mt. Brighton by the Region 9 Veterans Community Action Team (VCAT). It was a tremendous success with over 1,200 registered to attend, and it set a high precedent as other veteran groups even from out of state have already looked to the event for inspiration. Food, entertainment, and information on veteran resources were all available free of charge to veterans and their families.All those involved in the planning and organization did a great job appreciating those who serve. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and helped make it such a successful inaugural event. I am blessed to help represent an area that takes such good care of its veterans. For more information about next year’s VetFest or other ways VCAT supports local veterans, contact regional coordinator Josh Parish at (906) 430-1679.***On Wednesday, I participated in the Livingston County United Way Day of Caring. This is an annual opportunity for individuals, groups, and local organizations to come together in community service to help those most in need. It is the largest such one-day event in Livingston County, and I was happy to be a part of it. Thank you to everyone who stepped up and participated and to the Livingston County United Way for faithfully hosting this event each year.Later that night, I attended the Howell Art Project Party put together by the Howell Main Street Inc. Design team. The event included an art competition with artists from Livingston County and across the state and an auction to benefit future investments in downtown Howell. I am proud of the great success Howell has achieved, and I am happy to support its continued growth and development.***Each year, the Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA) gives away over 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to children of all grades who will soon be returning to school and provides parents with pertinent information and resources. The backpacks are generously donated by local residents, businesses, and organizations, and I was honored to help pass them out Thursday evening. It is always enjoyable to see the excitement on kids’ faces when they pick out their favorite backpack! Thank you to LESA for supporting our young people’s education.***If you have any ideas, comments or questions for my office, please do not hesitate to call us at 517-373-8835 or send an email to [email protected] We are happy to hear from you!PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Hank Vaupel volunteers alongside local residents for the Livingston County United Way Day of Caring. Categories: Vaupel News
Gábor Mátrai, the vice-president of communications at Hungarian media and telecom regulator the NMHH is to leave the organisation by mutual consent.Mátrai’s departure follows the appointment by Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán of Mónika Karas as president of the NMHH, following the death of the previous president Annamárai Szalai.Mátrai was last year named as vice-president of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), the body set up to facilitate the exchange of information between European national telecom regulators and to advise the EC.
The ad hoc committee set up by Vivendi to weigh the rival offers for telecom unit SFR tabled by Numericable shareholder Altice and construction-to-telecoms conglomerate Bouygues came out yesterday in favour of a deal with Numericable, according to a report in financial daily Les Echos, without citing sources.According to the paper, the committee’s opinion is not decisive but is likely to carry weight as Vivendi’s board meets to consider the matter this morning. Vivendi has confirmed that its supervisory board is meeting now to consider the two offers.The belief that Vivendi is leaning towards a deal with Numericable was given weight by an interview given by industry minister Arnaud Montebourg to the Europe 1 radio station this morning. Montebourg, who is know to favour a deal with Bouygues, in part due to his belief that France would benefit from a reduction in the number of mobile telecom players from four to three, said that he “understood” that Vivendi “prefers the choice of Numericable”.Montebourg underlined what he sees as the risks of the Numericable option, citing the latter’s debt levels and the relatively small size of Numericable relative to SFR.Montebourg also criticised the tax arrangements of Altice proprietor Patrick Drahi, citing the fact that Numericable is owned by a holding company based in Luxembourg and quoted on the Amsterdam stock exchange, while Drahi is a Swiss resident with holding based in Guernsey.