Gov. Mitch Daniels now appears to be using the same strategy as he enters the second half of his first term with a Democratic-controlled House. He's proposing a tax increase on cigarettes to fund an insurance program for Indiana's most needy uninsured. He's proposing full-day kindergarten. And yesterday Daniels announced he supports an increase in the state's minimum wage law. Even House Speaker Pat Bauer concedes to the Star that Daniels is working hard "so far" to reach out to Democrats. That same story by Mary Beth Schneider also notes the Governor is considering alternatives to his plan to privatize the Hoosier Lottery and build two new toll roads.
What appears to be an attempt to reach out to Democrats is really an effort by Daniels to attract support from more voters in the center. And that's what he's going to have to do between now and the 2008 election if he hopes to be re-elected. One issue I would urge the Governor to take up which he has so far failed to discuss is hate crimes legislation which is being pushed by Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R). As I've said many times before, Indiana is in the sad company of just four other states--Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming--in not having a hate crimes law. I recently contacted the governor's office about the legislation. I got this non-response from Megan Tretter:
Thank you for your e-mail to Governor Daniels about hate crime legislation. It is always helpful to have input from Hoosiers and hear your ideas regarding the challenges we face.
Together, all Hoosiers can work to make our state the best possible place to live and work. This administration is seeking greatness in every aspect of life in Indiana. The Governor wants us to aspire to excellence and to share the understanding that we are all in this together.
Thank you for your citizenship.
This is not a new concept. Gov. Daniels should have no hesitancy about supporting this legislation and making it known to lawmakers. That's important because I suspect, as in the past, opposition to the legislation will most likely center within the Republican Party. In particular, those folks don't want to see the words "sexual orientation" written into any new laws for fear it creates "rights" for people the religious right morally disapproves of. People in the center understand the importance of this type of legislation and so should Gov. Daniels.