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Democrats dole out grades

House Republicans received mid-term grades Thursday from their House Democratic brethren.

Democratic Leader Scott Pelath said it was time to critique the majority's performance during the first half of the legislative session.

He first gave them an incomplete for focusing on the middle class, noting the caucus avoided or voted against tax cuts that could have helped the middle class. But he acknowledged the body defeated a few provisions that would have further hurt Hoosiers.

"You haven't done that great, but you're trying," Pelath said.

Next he gave Republicans a D- for reinforcing traditional public schools.

Pelath said the legislature continues to fund three school systems -– traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools (via a voucher system) -- which fractures progress.

Finally, he gave the group a B+ for avoiding divisive social issues.

The chamber did not take up the gay marriage constitutional amendment and heard no abortion bills. But there is a bill regulating medical abortions via drugs coming from the Senate that threatens the silence on the issue.

"When you bring up divisive social issues, it creates bad feelings here in the chamber and makes it harder to work together," Pelath said. "If we start talking about trans-vaginal ultrasounds, this one turns to an F."

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma said he thought Pelath was respectful, and even humorous.

And he noted that while Democrats don't want public schools to receive letter grades, the policy is apparently different for their colleagues.

Bosma also said the abortion bill will get a hearing in the House.

To contact Niki Kelly email her at nkelly@jg.net or follow her on Twitter @nkellyatJG.