Was the 2016 General Assembly session a win or loss for Hoosiers?

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Republicans are calling this year’s General Assembly session a win, but Democrats say it was a missed opportunity.

Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said from civil rights to education to road funding, the Indiana General Assembly did not make enough progress this session.

“This very moment, in Indiana, it is still legal to be fired, not served, or evicted from your home if you’re a member of the LGBT community,” said Zody. “And that is wrong.”

Both chambers were guilty of not taking action on LGBT-related bills.

Republican senators pulled a proposal that would extend LGB rights without protecting transgenders, but passed a hate-crime bill taking LGBT people into account.

The house never acted on that hate-crime bill.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said they may not have passed an LGBT bill, but they did further the conversation.

“This is an issue we are going to be dealing with in the future, obviously,” said Bosma. “Reasonable Hoosiers differ on the issue, and it’s an issue that will take some time for both Hoosiers and elected officials to grapple with.”

Bosma said he believes this session was a win for Hoosier taxpayers.

Although no long-term road funding solutions were met, the Legislature still managed to reach a short-term solution that doesn’t raise any taxes.

Zody agreed the bill was a good compromise between the parties.

“That is a positive thing. But when you look at everything else, education, and really the issue concerning civil rights, the governor is calling it a win,” said Zody. “And I think that just shows how out of touch he is.”

The fact there is still a long-term road funding solution to be found, could help Democratic Gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in the upcoming election.

“John Gregg, like I said last time, had a long-term plan for infrastructure,” explained Zody. “And I think we will see a plan from him soon on where to take the state’s infrastructure from here.”

Bosma said political strategy is likely the reason the Democratic party is calling this session a failure.

“They’ve got to say something,” said Bosma. “And if they agreed that it was a very successful session, which I’m going to think the vast majority of Hoosiers would agree, that they would just be endorsing our team and they’re trying to win an election in the fall.”

Bosma said along with road funding, the Legislature addressed many of the state’s big issues including education and the state’s meth problem.

Legislators backed a panel to figure out how to replace ISTEP and gave pharmacies the power to limit selling drugs used to make meth.

But even with those accomplishments, Zody said they could have done more.

“There were a lot of missed opportunities this session that we should have made progress on,” said Zody. “It was a short session, but we had every opportunity to make more progress than we did.”

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