Political Notebook

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Group wants to limit debt constitutionally

The State Government Leadership Foundation, the national organization that coordinates policy ideas with state-level leaders, unveiled a national initiative last week in support of the state-led effort to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution through a limited constitutional convention.

“Families know that to balance household budgets, you don’t spend more than you have,” said Foundation Executive Director Matt Walter. “Make no mistake, our national debt is an immediate threat to our country and our children.

“It’s time to take back control of our national bank account and Demand Balance Now! We must immediately halt the ballooning $17 trillion debt from Obama’s Washington that will cripple our economy for years to come.”

He said states are leading on fiscal issues.

Twenty-one states have passed legislation calling for a balanced-budget amendment that would be passed through a state-led constitutional convention. In addition, five more states have passed such legislation in one of their legislative chambers during their current legislative sessions.

The approval of 34 states is needed to hold a convention.

The foundation identified elected leaders around the nation supporting the call for a balanced-budget amendment.

In Indiana, those officials are Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann; Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek; Indianapolis House Speaker Brian Bosma; Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero; and House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville.

For more information or to sign the citizen pledge, go to www.demandbalancenow.com.

Candidate forums

State legislative races should ramp up this month with candidate forums planned by Fort Wayne 912.

The group, which calls itself nonpartisan, plans to meet with candidates for state Senate District 15 and House District 84 on March 18 and with candidates for House Districts 83 and 85 on March 25. Each forum is at 6:30 p.m. at Classic Café, 4832 Hillegas Road, with a “one-on-one meet-and-greet” beginning at 5:45 p.m.

Fort Wayne 912 said candidates will give short introductions and then field questions from a panel. To submit questions for the candidates, go to www.fortwayne912.com.

Republican primary-election candidates in Senate District 15 are former Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown, Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries, business executive Jeffrey Snyder and Allen County Council member Darren Vogt. Attorney Jack Morris of Fort Wayne is unopposed in the May 6 Democratic primary.

GOP primary candidates in House District 84 are incumbent Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne attorney Michael Barranda. Fred Haigh of Fort Wayne is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Republican candidates in House District 83 are incumbent Rep. Kathy Heuer of Columbia City and Christopher Judy of Fort Wayne. Steven Hively of Columbia City has dropped out of the race.

Republican candidates in House District 85 are incumbent Rep. Casey Cox of Fort Wayne, former educator Ken Knoblauch of Woodburn and Denny Worman of Leo-Cedarville.

Pipeline support

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, says Russia’s invasion of Crimea in Ukraine is another reason the Obama administration should approve the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Stutzman and the six other House Republicans from Indiana have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging completion of the pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico after a State Department evaluation period that has lasted nearly 2,000 days.

“In light of this project’s impact on energy security, job creation, and environmental protections, the Keystone XL Pipeline is undeniably in the national interest to complete,” the Hoosier representatives wrote.

Environmental groups have opposed the planned pipeline, in part because of the potential for oil leaks in the Plains states it would traverse. But the Indiana Republicans wrote that “pipelines are by far the safest mode of transportation for crude oil and natural gas.”

Parts of the Keystone pipeline are operating. A segment that would stretch across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska remains under consideration by federal officials.

Separately, Stutzman released a statement saying pipeline approval is among steps the White House could take to “respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

“Russia’s vast energy resources have allowed (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to exploit the West’s energy insecurity and tighten his grip on neighboring countries,” Stutzman said.

Stutzman contended that the pipeline and expanded U.S. energy production would reduce fuel prices, weakening Russia’s position. Pipeline opponents argue that most of the oil transported by the pipeline would be sold abroad at prices that fluctuate according to fuel demands in China and India.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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