Pharos-Tribune

Local News

November 16, 2012

On the other side of power, State Senate minority leader finds duty in dissent

INDIANAPOLIS — The new minority leader in the Indiana Senate has some advice for his Democratic colleagues in the other legislative chamber that goes something like: Keep your chin up and stay in the fight.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, elected last week as floor leader of the 13-member Democratic caucus in the Senate, has spent the past two years in the position that House Democrats now find themselves in: On the other side of a Republican supermajority.

It’s not a fun place to be. The super power of a supermajority means the party in power doesn’t need a single member from the other party to cast a vote, or even to show up, to pass a law.

“There is a tendency is to say, ‘Oh well, it’s over. What can we do? We know we’re going to get our brains beat,’” said Lanane. “That makes the role of the minority even more important.”

For Lanane, a 60-year-old attorney from Anderson, that role means making sure he and his members make their dissenting voices heard during the legislative session – in committee hearings and on the Senate floor – even if they can’t make their dissenting votes count.

“At all times, the duty of the minority is to challenge the majority on their thoughts and ideas,” Lanane said. “Because that’s what the public expects and that’s what they deserve.”  

Lanane brings that kind of intention and optimism to a job vacated by state Sen. Vi Simpson, an Ellettsville Democrat who gave up her minority-leader role when she became John Gregg’s running mate in the race for governor.

Gregg’s loss to Republican Mike Pence, plus the GOP’s take of 69 of the 100 seats in the state House, makes Lanane’s job all the harder.

But he doesn’t give much voice to discouragement. Lanane has spent all 14 years of his legislative career in the minority; while Republicans have only had supermajority control since 2010, they’ve had the majority of the 50 seats in the state Senate since 1978.

For Lanane – a mild-mannered man who seems to favor the process of policy-making over a political grappling match – that’s meant raising a dissenting voice when needed, but it’s also meant crafting alliances on cross-party issues when he can.

The latter includes some election-related legislation he carried with Republican lawmaker Connie Lawson, who is now Secretary of State, and the bill he co-authored that put into place new outdoor-stage safety rules in response to the fatal stage collapse at the 2011 State Fair.  

Lanane’s patience with the legislative process comes in part from his long interest and involvement in politics, first awakened in 1960 when then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy made a visit to Anderson. Lanane was just 8, but as a kid in an Irish-Catholic family, “it was a big deal. We were all very excited,” he said. Another childhood memory: handing out books of matches at a polling place; they were emblazoned with the name and face of his uncle, a local politician.

After Lanane got his undergraduate degree at Ball State University, he went to law school at Indiana University, married into a politically involved family in Anderson, and later ran his sister-in-law’s primary campaign for the state legislature. She lost, but it led to another race, in which he managed the winning campaign of Anderson’s Democratic mayoral candidate, Mark Lawler in 1987.

Lanane stayed active in local politics and in 1997, was picked to fill to the state Senate seat vacated by Bill McCarty, when McCarty was appointed head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

The past two years in the legislature may have been the least fun for Lanane. He opposed some major legislation that Republicans pushed through, including the creation of the nation’s largest voucher program for private schools, and the so-called “right to work” law that banned labor contracts that require employees to be members of a union.

He has some dread about the next session, in which he expects the return of some divisive social issues that may include more abortion restrictions, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and bill to teach creationism in public schools – all measures he and most of his caucus members oppose.

If and when they do, Lanane will lead the small chorus of dissenting voices in the debate. “It’s the duty of the minority,” he said. “You can’t shirk it. If anything, you have to be even more committed to dive in.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Logansport City Council prepares 2015 budget Logansport City Council members started meeting with department heads earlier this week to discuss proposed expenses as they shape the budget for next year.Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin prefaced the discussion Monday night by saying the budget as it

    August 20, 2014

  • Staples to close by Sept. 20 Logansport's Staples office supply store is closing Sept. 20, a company spokesperson said. It's the latest in a slew of closings the company announced in March it would pursue, stating its goal was to shutter about 225 stores, more than 10 percent of

    August 20, 2014

  • NWS-PT082014 Earthquake4.jpg Shake, rattle and roll: Students learn earthquake safety with simulator WALTON — Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School students experienced what three levels of earthquakes feel like during the school day Tuesday.The Quake Cottage, a mobile earthquake simulator, is run in partnership with the Indiana Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • Grissom Fire Department 04 [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Military fire power: Grissom FD critical to regional safety GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE — There are six people trapped inside a burning airplane. You and your partner have 10 minutes to rescue them.And you have to do it blind, groping and crawling in total darkness, burdened down with fire gear and an oxygen tan

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-PT082014 McTaggart awards.jpg Writers win McTaggart honors The Trustees of the Logansport-Cass County Public Library recently announced the winners of the fifth annual McTaggart Writing Competition.In the student poetry division, Lari Rutschmann took first place with her poem “Hands” and second place with an

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Data breach affects Dukes Memorial Hospital PERU — Dukes Memorial Hospital was one of nine Indiana hospitals affected by Monday's data breach at Community Health Systems. Community Health Systems — which is not affiliated with Community Health Network, the Indianapolis-based healthcare provide

    August 19, 2014

  • Police Blotter: Aug. 19, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    August 19, 2014

  • State sues EPA over carbon dioxide regulations The state of Indiana and 11 other states are suing the U.S. Environment Protection Agency over its recent carbon dioxide regulations, contending the agency is “overstepping its authority.” The lawsuit, filed this month in U.S. Court of Appeals in the

    August 19, 2014

  • Council passes annexation exceptions Exceptions to local rules are now in place for residents of land Logansport is annexing should the city win the lawsuit filed by opponents set to get underway again next month.Logansport City Council narrowly approved 4-3 the annexation of two territ

    August 19, 2014

  • NWS-PT081914 COAL TRUCK.jpg Booms and busts: What will happen to coal towns? DUGGER — The existence of this small southwestern Indiana town has depended on coal for a long time. It was named for the Dugger family that sunk the first mine in 1879. Within five years, Dugger was one of largest villages in eastern Sullivan County

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Heavy Rains Flood Arizona Roads US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
eEdition