To the Point for 3/3/05


IT LOOKS LIKE WE’LL STILL BE SLOW, thanks to some political wrangling that happened at the Indiana Statehouse this week.

Whether or not the state would switch to Daylight Savings Time this year and in future years was a hot button topic all around the state over the past few months — ever since new Governor Mitch Daniels announced that he was supporting the idea as a way of bringing more business and industry to the state.

With Republicans controlling the House and the Senate, going along with the Governor seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

What legislators didn’t count on was that the idea would be son controversial with Hoosiers that it stretched across party lines.

With a midnight Tuesday deadline looming, Democrats chose to stay away from the House floor for the past few days. That meant that even though the Republicans had a majority, the party didn’t have a quorum, and therefore couldn’t do any business.

With no quorum there could be no votes, and with no votes that meant that bills such as the one taking Indiana to Daylight Savings Time never got out of the House.

There is a slim chance that the idea could resurface during the second half of the session over in the Senate, but that now seems highly unlikely, with most legislators now feeling that Daylight Savings Time for this year, at least — is dead.

For sports fans, another casualty of the lack of a quorum was the blessing of the city of Indianapolis’ agreement with the Indianapolis Colts to build a new stadium.

Like Daylight Savings Time, the stadium bill could show itself again through the Senate, but those supporting the building of the new stadium suddenly find themselves scrambling to figure out how to get everything done.

You can almost see those Mayflower moving trucks backing up to the RCA Dome now. Ever heard of the Los Angeles Colts?

Although those are two major pieces of legislation, there were also hundreds of other bills that simply died when the midnight deadline hit Tuesday night.

Democrats have now made a point — just because they are the minority doesn’t mean that they are going to just sit by and do nothing.

Key reason stated by the statehouse officials for the absenteeism by the Democrats was the governor’s plan to appoint an inspector general for the governor; and also a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls before being allowed to vote.

The Democrats did show up earlier in the session to pass the state’s $23.8 billion two-year budget.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the statehouse should be an interesting place to be over the last half of the session. Governor Daniels has been “patient” with Democrats over the first part of his administration (the governor’s term, not mine).

With all of this legislation now basically dead — or at least on life support — you have to figure that the Governor’s patience is about to end.

If that happens things will get really interesting. If you’re a lover of the political process, then keep an eye on Indianapolis.