Local News
3:26 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

2013 Indiana General Assembly Begins With Calls for Focus on Education, Economy

State lawmakers returned to Indianapolis today for the start of their four-month session, which will include the drafting of a new state budget and consideration of Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence’s proposed personal income tax cut.

With a new GOP supermajority in the House, Democrats don’t have the numbers in either chamber to hold up controversial legislation like they did last year during the bitter fight over a right-to-work bill.

But new House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath says that doesn’t mean his caucus will be silent.

He’s urging lawmakers to focus on the economy and education, and observe a two-year moratorium on social issues.

"And you know what they are," Pelath said.

"They involve the deeply sensitive matters of who loves who, of human reproduction and of women’s health. Our state and nation are deeply divided on such issues and too often this body has only served to inflame those divisions."

Republican Rep. William Friend sounded a similar tone, saying the top three issues facing lawmakers this session are the budget, job creation and education.

"We want everyone to reach across this aisle. This is no division line, it’s not the goal line, it’s not the center line, but it (has) in some years served as the dividing line, and that’s got to stop," Friend said.

Several hot-button social issues, including a proposal to write the state’s gay marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution, could come up for a vote this session.

Gov.-elect Pence will take the oath of office next Monday and will deliver his State of the State address to lawmakers on January 22.