“Too often, we believe our own rhetoric,” he continued. “We high-five our press statements on the budget surplus (close to $2 billion.) Or we pat ourselves on the back as Indiana tags along behind a national economic recovery. Or we extend symbolic assistance to people while at the same time reducing their resources. Of these activities, we can all live with less.”
He ended with a plea: “Let’s keep listening to each other as we tackle Indiana’s real challenges with ingenuity and optimism.”
It was those words that likely triggered the ovation – not the dig he got in when calling the contentious fight over the same-sex marriage ban a “national embarrassment.”
The only job in the General Assembly more humbling than Pelath’s may belong to Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane. The mild-mannered attorney from Anderson heads a caucus outnumbered 13 to 37. When he took the job in late 2012, he exhorted his members to raise their voices, knowing as they might that “we’re going to get our brains beat.” On Thursday, Lanane and his chorus put forth an agenda that includes healthcare coverage for more than 400,000 uninsured Hoosiers, state-funded preschool for every 4-year-old who needs it, an end to pay discrimination for women, and a raise in the minimum wage.
Lanane knows his caucus’ dissenting voices, and votes, don’t always count.
It’s his job, he said, to make them heard.
“If the public hears only one side of the issue, of course, they’re going to accept that,” he said. “And that’s not the way we do it in a democracy.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden