Despite being outnumbered, Dem Pelath puts GOP on notice
By Matt Mikus email@example.com March 7, 2013 3:10PM
House Minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, provided a mid-session report card Thursday to the House Republicans. He only offered one passing grade in avoiding social issues, with an incomplete to helping the middle class and a D- for reinforcing traditional public schools. House speaker Brian Bosma is in the background. | Matt Mikus~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:39AM
INDIANAPOLIS — At the beginning of the session, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said his caucus would serve as a critique to the House Republicans who hold a super majority in the state.
On the house floor Thursday, Pelath offered grades for the session at the halfway point, giving the Republicans poor grades except in one category.
With a large “mid-term report card,” he showed three priorities the Democratic party wanted to focus on during the session: Placing the middle class first, reinforcing traditional public schools, and taking a two-year break from social issues.
The first grade on helping the middle class was an incomplete, citing missed opportunities to offer Hoosiers a chance at Gov. Mike Pence’s tax cut, and passing up the opportunity to create jobs by expanding Medicaid to those who make 138 percent of the poverty level, which is expected to produce 30,000 jobs in the private sector.
“I know we have philosophical differences on the Affordable Care Act,” Pelath said, “but we will help you do it your way, if we insure every citizen in the state, so the taxpayers don’t have to keep paying for those in the emergency room.”
On supporting traditional schools, Pelath gave the House a “D-”. Citing the three different forms of education in the state, through charter schools, vouchers to private schools, and traditional public schools. Restoring education funding by $200 million kept the grade from dropping lower.
The highest grade for the mid-session report was on avoiding social issues. Pelath wrote down a “B-” grade. The grade came with a caveat. A Senate bill requiring women who seek an abortion pill to have an invasive procedure called a transvaginal ultrasound has garnered national attention, and Pelath warned that debate would ruin the progress the House has made on trying to work together.
“If we start talking about transvaginal ultrasounds,” he said, “this grade will turn to an F.
“I urge you to keep up this grade, and you’ve been doing well so far. But we need to stay away from the divisive issues.”
Pelath added that the dialogue between the parties has been more civil this year than in the past.
“We’ve had a rough past few years,” he said, “very partisan issues. But I think we’re trying to find those odd couples and trying to work together for the state of Indiana.”
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, found the critique respectful with a touch of humor, adding he appreciates the dialog between the two parties.