Indiana Governor Gets Tax Cut, Pre-K, Gun Bills to Consider
Indiana lawmakers have ended their 2014 session, sending business tax cuts, a preschool program, new roads funding and a series of other measures to Gov. Mike Pence for consideration.
Lawmakers opened the session in January, pitching headlong into an emotional debate on gay marriage, but left on a much quieter note late Thursday night. Republican legislative leaders managed to push through an agenda that Pence had signed onto, but not without extensive negotiations and some concerns raised about their impact on the state budget.
The focus will turn shortly to Pence, as he considers what measures to sign. He has not said whether he will veto any measures, although the governor's veto carries little direct power because it can be overridden by a simple majority of lawmakers.
"I'm very proud of the members here — Republican and Democrat, House and Senate," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, shortly after gaveling the session to a close. "They worked hard. They brought this home despite the predictions that we'd get sidetracked."
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, had a sharply different view of the past two months at the Statehouse.
"When the true standard for creativity is set in trying to explain to the people of Indiana that many things have been done on their behalf these past two and a half months — as the governor and the leaders of his super-majorities have tried to do today — you know that the bar of accomplishment is very low," Pelath said in a statement.
The session's end was a marked departure from its beginning, when emotional debates over a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage divided lawmakers and brought hundreds of activists to the Statehouse on a regular basis.
Marriage ban opponents won a surprising victory last month when lawmakers removed language about civil unions from the amendment, forcing them to start the process anew. That means the soonest the issue could appear on a ballot is 2016.
The marriage battle also led to some political fallout. Senate Republican leaders stripped Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, of his leadership posts and moved his Senate seat next to the Democrats in the chamber after he criticized their handling of the issue.
And Bosma announced he had been offered "unlimited campaign funds" to make the marriage ban "go away" this session. But the Republican donor who offered the help, former Republican Party Chairman Jim Kittle, roundly disputed Bosma's claims.
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