Indiana speakers of both parties have been known to use some creative tactics to win important votes. Then-Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, drew howls of protest from Republicans in February 2004 when he recorded a vote by then-Rep. Tom Kromkowski, D-South Bend, in favor of full-day kindergarten. Kromkowski was miles away from the Statehouse, recuperating from heart bypass surgery.
Facing pressure from universities, businesses and other opponents, Bosma has repeatedly said he doesn’t think “one person, one university president, or one person in the board room of a corporation” should decide whether to amend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage into the constitution.
But his statement that he was willing to substitute members of the judiciary committee was stunning proof of how much power Indiana’s speaker would consider exercising.
His more assertive public stance is hardly news to the members of the House Republican Caucus, which has been consumed by the issue since the start of the session.
Meetings of the caucus — routine and private affairs where most of the toughest decisions are made before lawmakers return to public view — have become incredibly tense, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meetings who spoke on condition of anonymity because of their private nature.
Last week’s public statements began to match the actions of a man who has shown an intense interest in the amendment. Before he ever floated the idea of switching out uncooperative committee members, Bosma announced the creation of a companion measure designed to assuage concerns over the expansiveness of the ban.
The odd tactic — adding a statutory measure designed to explain what lawmakers mean inside — had legal scholars pondering just how a state law would trump a judge’s potential interpretation and application of constitutional language.