Noisy. That’s the first word that came to mind when I sat down to write this column.
Last week, the sheer volume of noise generated by legislators — both those who stayed and those who fled — and the thousands of protesters who gathered there daily seemed amplified by two things: architecture and emotion.
On the first: The Statehouse is a high-ceilinged, four-story building in the shape of a cross, designed around a central and soaring domed rotunda. When you walk in the main public entrance on the second floor, you can look up and see the next two floors above you. The marble staircases on the south and north end are wide and open — and the elevators are so small and few — that visitors seem naturally drawn to them.
Add in another element: The House and Senate chambers on the third floor are fronted by big windows along the main hallways, so that anyone walking by can see what their lawmakers are doing — or not doing — while in session.
So what that means is that when a couple thousand fired-up protesters gather inside the building, you can’t help but notice. Ditto for when 37 of the 40 House Democrats vacate the place, as they did last week when they fled the state to kill the quorum needed to do business in the House.
The protesters weren’t only the ones making a lot of noise. There was a lot of figurative fist-pounding and chest-thumping from some legislators, and no lack of voluminous words of condemnation from both sides.
It would take more words than I have room for in this column to explain the complexities of what led to this epic fight, but in short: Pro-business Republicans, emboldened by last November’s election victories that gave them power in both the state House and Senate, were on a path to push through some game-changing legislation that horrified the minority Democrats and the labor unions to which they’re beholden.
There are legitimate arguments on both sides for why each has staked its claims, and why neither wants to budge.
But there have been plenty of theatrics as well, with no lack of pontificating and performance art.
All of which leads me to this: There are days when it’s so hard to tell what’s real and not real in the Indiana Statehouse.
Let me give you a small example: The thousands of protesters who streamed through the Statehouse this week all had to pass through security for a weapons check. When they stood outside the chambers of both the House and Senate, loudly chanting their disapproval, they did so behind bullet-proof glass.
But these lawmakers are likely to pass a gun bill that would deny local elected officials the same kind of protection. The bill would bar local communities from restricting firearms in most public buildings and properties. The bill backers contend that the more armed the public is, the safer the public will be.
It seems they just don’t want that armed public to be too close to them
Maureen Hayden is statehouse bureau chief for CNHI’s Indiana newspapers. She can be reached at email@example.com.
And would you believe it: posturing, political theater and pontificating?
Noisy. That’s the first word that came to mind when I sat down to write this column.
- Indiana Legislature
Bill for welfare drug testing in negotiation
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Indiana lawmakers trying to pass a bill requiring drug tests for some welfare recipients say they have passed voluntary drug tests.
Indiana lawmakers approve police education bill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New standards for police cultural sensitivity training and reporting of bullying-related suicides could become law pending the governor’s approval.
Same-sex marriage tax benefits up for Indiana vote
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A gay-rights coalition says it’s “deeply concerned” about a late-session Indiana proposal not to recognize same-sex marriage for tax purposes.
Olympic medalists could get Indiana tax break
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Olympic medalists from Indiana could soon get a tax break on the value of their medals and any prize money.
Indiana House backs study of teen sexual assaults
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House is backing a plan to study the number of teen sexual assaults and rapes in the state.
Indiana State Fair 1 of only 2 without alcohol
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — This state’s distinction of having one of the last dry state fairs could end if legislation clears the Indiana House.
Senate panel limits release of Indiana roads money
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Senate panel is limiting the amount of money that would be released from a fund for road projects in the coming year.
Indiana House committee votes to nix Common Core
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A measure to stop Indiana from using the Common Core national education standards has been advanced by a legislative panel.
Welfare drug screening stripped from Indiana bill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bill to require drug testing for some Indiana welfare recipients with past drug offenses no longer restricts what can be bought with government food assistance.
Conservatives angry at GOP chiefs in marriage loss
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Religious conservatives who lost Indiana’s gay marriage battle are placing the blame with Indiana’s legislative leaders.
Indiana lawmakers debate meth lab disclosure
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Houses once used as methamphetamine labs would have to be listed online under a proposal being considered by Indiana lawmakers.
Indiana Senate prepares for vote on marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State senators are scheduled to take a final vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage after approving a version last week which would put off a public referendum until at least 2016.
Indiana senators seek to restore civil unions ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Republican state senators have filed amendments that could place the proposed Indiana constitutional ban on gay marriage back on track for a November referendum.
Indiana gay marriage amendment debate resuming
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers’ debate over a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is heating up again in the Statehouse.
Legislators advancing tighter Indiana scooter rules
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The chairman of the Indiana Senate’s transportation committee says he believes a proposal to tighten regulations on motorized scooters could gain legislative approval.
Indiana House passes constitutional gay marriage ban
Indiana lawmakers pressed ahead Tuesday with an effort to outlaw gay marriage under the state constitution, but the version that cleared the House wouldn’t be able to take effect until 2016 at the earliest because of a late change leaving open the possibility of same-sex civil unions someday.
Indiana Senate committee OKs industrial hemp bill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state Senate committee has approved a bill that would allow Indiana farmers to grow Industrial hemp crops.
Bosma moves marriage ban to friendlier committee
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma has sent a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage to a new committee amid concerns it lacked the support needed on another panel.
Senate panel approves Indiana business tax cut bill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana’s Senate tax committee has approved a series of tax cuts designed to aid Indiana businesses.
Vote could come next week on marriage amendment
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma says lawmakers are taking their time deciding how they’ll vote on a proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage.
Action delayed on Indiana farm trespassing bill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Senate committee has delayed a vote on a proposed crackdown on farm trespassers.
House panel considers personal property tax cut
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Members of the House Ways and Means Committee are pondering a locally controlled cut in the business personal property tax.
Indiana House panel considers business tax changes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Members of the Indiana House committee are pondering a locally controlled cut in the state’s property tax on business equipment.
Indiana House panel hearing proposed gay marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana House panel is jumping straight into the legislative battle over amending the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage.
Indiana lawmakers proposing new day care rules
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana day cares that receive federal money would face new requirements for training and staff-to-child ratios under bills three lawmakers plan to introduce in the next legislative session.
Court lets walk-out fines against House Democrats stand
INDIANAPOLIS — House Democrats who had to pay more than $100,000 in fines after they walked out of the Indiana Statehouse won’t get the help they sought from the Indiana Supreme Court.
Legislature approves Indiana sentencing laws overhaul
INDIANAPOLIS — An overhaul of Indiana’s criminal sentencing laws aimed at sending fewer nonviolent offenders to prison has been approved by the Legislature.
Budget deal calls for 5 percent income tax cut
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana taxpayers will see their personal income tax rate reduced by 5 percent over the next four years under a budget plan agreed to by state lawmakers.
Revoked charters could be forgiven $12M in loans
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers are considering forgiving $12 million in loans that “failing” charter schools accepted from the state.
Indiana House set to vote on school safety grant plan
INDIANAPOLIS — A stripped-down proposal that would start a state grant program toward helping school districts hire police officers and buy safety equipment is set to be voted on by Indiana legislators.
- More Indiana Legislature Headlines
- Bill for welfare drug testing in negotiation