Indiana House Republicans ready to change for the conservative
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Some local Indiana House Republicans intend to get rid of common construction wages and oppose renewable energy mandates after they change the social fabric of the Hoosier state.
Around 50 people, mostly partisans, attended the event at Northside Middle School. Among the political celebrities were former Mayor Sharon McShurley and Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold, both Republicans.
Brenda Brumfield, spokesperson for the chamber, said it was painfully apparent that no audience and no media attention made the forum a failure in some ways.
That much of that is because big media sees front runner Mike Pence, a Republican congressman, as the next governor and Republicans keeping safe, large ,majorities in the House and Senate.
And some of views by local Republican lawmakers made it apparent that working people will again suffer after Right to Work law passed this year, and even multi-million dollar attempts at wind farms in Elwood and geo-thermal heating and cooling at Ball State University will not be mandated for utilities that now mainly depend on coal, and nuclear power for electricity.
Rep. Jack Lutz, R, Anderson, who chairs the House Energy and Utility Committee, said he did not favor any mandate for renewable energy even though a huge wind farm is located in House District 35 near Elwood. He insisted Indiana had among the lowest utility rates and he wanted to keep them that way with no mandates.
Democrat Melanie Wright, a Daleville teacher, said mandates should at least be considered while Democrat Sue Errington, seeking the House District 34 seat in Muncie, actually filed a law to require utilities to use renewable energy when she was a senator.
Lutz is a veteran lawmaker who is supported by the Indiana Right to Life, National Rifle Association and Indiana Farm Bureau and has never been seriously challenged in 20 years. Wright has walked throughout the district and has powerful political friends like Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson and Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson. The district also includes Yorktown where Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown lives.
Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, was equally defiant on the issue of Right to Work and common construction wages on public works for government and schools.
Davis said the common construction wage an artificial wage put on public work to make them more costly. He filed the bill this year that upped the threshold of work from $150,000 to $350,000 and there are plans by Republicans to outlaw it completely next year. Davis also opposed mandates on renewable energy as Lutz also opposed the common wage law.
Wright supported the common wage law as did Democrat Andy Schemenaur, a Jay County school administrator, who said the wage reflected skilled labor rates that also were upheld by federal labor standards. Schemenaur lost to Davis before in the heavily Republican House District 33 that includes Jay County, Albany, and portions of Randolph County.
The biggest fight around eastern Indiana when it comes to a House race is Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City and Democrat Katie Morgan of Marion in District 31 that is a 50-50 split among partisans. Mahan is an anti-federal government almost Tea Party guy that thinks all government and education should be local. Morgan is a mom and a Marion School Board member who knows the federal government must help local communities with money and education.
Mahan, a former county sheriff, and Morgan, battered back and forth on jobs, education, government reform and other issues. Mahan pointed out how Marion schools failed state standards while Morgan said Mahan was part of the attack on working people and families with Right to Work and wanting the state to take over health care from the federal government.
Delaware County now has pieces of five Indiana House districts that most voters don't know after redistricting in 2011. A fifth House member, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion, who now represents Gaston, did not even show up because he is unopposed and also a veteran lawmaker like Lutz.