Lawmakers representing Monroe County in the Indiana General Assembly say the Pence administration appears to have relaxed the atmosphere at the Statehouse this legislative session. Still, some say loud battles may still loom on the horizon.
At a Friday legislative breakfast at Indiana University, State Rep. Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute, said he’s noticed a change in urgency since Mitch Daniels left the governor’s office.
“Seems like now with the new governor and what’s happening up there at the Statehouse, as I mentioned to a reporter the other day, it just seems like it’s so laid back compared to what we dealt with a couple years ago,” Heaton says. “With Governor Daniels in there, I think you know from day one ‘Ok, here it is’ and you just start in with both feet.”
Heaton and State Senator Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, praised the bipartisanship and the seeming lack of rancor in the early part of the session, but State Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, says he’s not, in his words, harboring any illusions about how the session could end.
“Sooner or later when we get to the really critical issues whether it be expanding Medicaid to provide more health care or budget priorities, tax policy – I think when we get into those harder issues toward the second half of the session, you’re going to perhaps see a little bit more spirited debate going on,” Pierce says.
The lawmakers sparred briefly on the issue of expanding Medicaid coverage in the state, with State Rep. Matt Ubelhor, R-Bloomfield, noting hospitals in his district tend to be among the largest employers in the small towns he represents. Still, Ubelhor says he has to weigh allocating more Medicaid funding with how much it would cost the state to provide such service.