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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 08, 2018 1:00 am

Details of special session remain cloudy

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Hoosiers know there will be a special state legislative session sometime in May, but that's all they know.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and House and Senate leaders haven't announced a date, and we don't know how long it will last.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said in a letter to the editor last week that it will be a one-day special session.

“I'm certainly not happy about it and wish it could have been avoided. But we will make it right for Hoosiers,” he said.

Holcomb has asked the lawmakers to focus on only three items: new funding for school safety, a $12 million loan for Muncie Community School Corp. and matching the state's tax code with the federal tax reform changes. But technically, anything can be considered.

For it to be limited to one day, both chambers will have to suspend the Indiana Constitution, which requires a bill be read on three separate days.

“Unless in case of emergency, two-thirds of the House where such bill may be pending shall, by a vote of yeas and nays, deem it expedient to dispense with this rule,” the Constitution rules.

Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers, but absent members could complicate things.

The Indiana Democratic Party recently noted that the legislative process is designed to encourage deliberation and allow input from the public.

State Party Chairman John Zody lamented the fact that a special session – and the rule-bending – wouldn't be necessary had the Statehouse Republicans done their job in the first place.

“There are no good options and no ways to correct the PR tailspin Statehouse Republicans inflicted on themselves by forcing a $30,000 per day special session,” he said. “If the issues are important enough to call a special session, Hoosiers would rightly assume they are important enough to debate transparently and within the rules. To hold a special session in just a few hours is watering down the legislative process. It's a lose-lose.”

Messer, Rokita both like Trump

U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita have been trying to outdo each other in showing support for President Donald Trump as they campaign for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat from Indiana.

Messer, R-6th, said last month that Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize if North Korea were to give up its nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, Rokita, R-4th, released a campaign advertisement in which he wears Trump's signature “Make America Great Again” red cap.

Messer might have bragging rights, just barely, after Monday's release of a tally showing how often members of Congress have voted with Trump's agenda since he took office in 2017.

The data analysis website FiveThirtyEight found that Messer has voted with Trump's position on 64 out of 69 bills, or 92.8 percent, and he missed a vote. Rokita has voted with Trump on 63 of 70 bills, or 90 percent.

But four other House members from Indiana – Republican Reps. Jim Banks, Jackie Walorksi, Susan Brooks and Larry Bucshon – each voted more often with Trump than did Messer and Rokita. Brooks and Bucshon were at 98.6 percent.

Messer, Rokita and Mike Braun, another avid Trump backer, seek the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the general election. According to FiveThirtyEight, Donnelly has voted with Trump's position on 37 of 67 bills and nominations, or 55.2 percent, the fourth-highest rate among Senate Democrats.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who doesn't stand for re-election until 2022, has voted with Trump 94.1 percent of the time.

Sign up to vote so you can complain

Hoosiers have just two more days to register for the primary election.

You must register by Monday to have your say in the May 8 election.

You can register to vote online by using the Indiana Voters app, texting 'Indiana' to 2VOTE (28683) or by going to IndianaVoters.com. You can also submit an application to register in-person at your local county clerk's office or any Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch.

The Indiana Voters app also allows Hoosiers to confirm their voter registration, look up their polling place, get driving directions to their polling location, find out who's on their ballot, track their absentee ballot application or provisional ballot information, and contact local election officials.

To be eligible to register to vote, you must:

• Be a citizen of the United States.

• Be at least 18 years old on the day of the next general, municipal, or special election.

• Have lived in your precinct for at least 30 days before the next general, municipal, or special election (except for certain military voters).

• Are not currently imprisoned after being convicted of a crime.

Libertarians to meet

The Libertarian Party of Allen County will have a convention April 15 to nominate election candidates, elect officers and state convention delegates, and amend bylaws.

The convention will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Liberty Diner, 2929 Goshen Road. Chris Spangle of the “We Are Libertarians” podcast will open the event.

To be a candidate or officer, a person must join the national or Indiana Libertarian Party by Thursday.

A person must join the local party to vote at the convention.

Convention admission is free, but those attending must pay for their meals. For details, go to https://allencountylp.org/2018-lpac-convention or call 260-750-9013.

Mitchell seeks re-election

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell has filed her candidacy with the secretary of the Indiana Republican Party to seek the nomination for state treasurer at the Indiana Republican State Convention on June 8-9.

In her first term, Mitchell has grown the College Choice 529 program and overseen the expansion of text-to-911 services across all of Indiana's 92 counties. She also launched INvestABLE, a 529 savings plan that allows Hoosiers with disabilities to save to a higher threshold without sacrificing state and federal aid benefits.

“I am proud of the work we've done in my first term and I have the experience and vision to continue to serve Hoosiers as state treasurer,” she said. “In a second term, I will continue to bring a fiscally conservative approach to our investments, reduce taxpayer risk, and protect our tax dollars.” Mitchell said. “I'm excited to share the story of our accomplishments with Hoosiers around the state.”

She was first elected in 2014.

As treasurer, she is the chief investment officer for Indiana. Mitchell is responsible for the safe management of about $5 billion to $7 billion of Hoosier tax money.

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 be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.