Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pat Bauer Remains on the Loose

Pat Bauer spoke at last year's Democratic state convention. His speech - not so much the details - but for its style and energy. he overthrew all of my preconceptions abut him. Now, Pat is back doing his job. Or as the Indianapolis Business Journal puts it: House speaker not high on several hot issues.
"But there are a few hot topics that some legislators also want addressed this session. They include taking the next step toward amending caps on property tax bills into the state constitution, starting over on trying to put a ban on gay marriage in the constitution, and cracking down on illegal immigration.

Backers of those measures face a formidable barrier, however: Democratic House Speaker Patrick Bauer of South Bend, who wields tremendous power and is sour on dealing with such measures.

'I think when you have a patient that is very ill, which we do, which is called the fiscal body of this state, that is what the doctor should be administering,' Bauer said."

Bauer is a hands-on leader, keenly aware of what legislation is moving - or not moving - in Democrat-controlled House committees and in what forms. His committee chairs may have discretion, but it's no secret that Bauer has a tight rein on his caucus, and the buck stops with him.

He sometimes lets legislation he finds distasteful get to the House floor, only to ensure that changes are made that either make it too ugly to pass or work to achieve goals of the caucus he commands.

Given statements he's made so far, constitutional property tax caps, a gay marriage amendment measure and legislation on illegal immigration might not get anywhere in the House this year.


He said to take up the contentious issue this session would be a distraction from what he believes are the most pressing issues - creating jobs and enacting a two-year budget that ensures adequate funding for education.

Cracking down on illegal immigration was a hot issue last session, and could become so again this year. But Bauer thinks it's almost solely a federal issue, and taking it up on the state level would be a distraction from higher priorities.
I cannot disagree with Bauer's position on any of the above. I think the gay marriage ban silly on too many levels. With our current economy, the Republican focus on this issue seems surrealistic.

What most people in Indiana do not realize is that the House Speaker may be a hair more powerful than the Governor and a good bit more powerful than the Senate's President. From the House comes our money bills. The Speaker's job doe snot consist of playing dead for the Governor. Indiana's Constitution puts a premium on cooperation between the legislative and executive branches. As I see it, Bauer is doing his job in the way he is supposed to be doing that job.

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