Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bauer: Kuzman Did "Yeoman's Work" On Property Tax Bill

House Speaker Pat Bauer (D) is really going to miss Rep. Bob Kuzman, who announced yesterday he is resigning his seat in the Indiana House to become a lobbyist for Ice Miller. Bauer tells the Northwest Indiana Times, "I'll miss him." "He's a great legislator; he's a good friend," Bauer said. "He did a yeoman's job on the property-tax legislation this year."

That "property tax legislation" would be the new law which allows the state's two horse race tracks to purchase a franchise to operate slot machines at their tracks for $250 million each, with the revenues generated therefrom being used to finance a property tax rebate program. Ice Miller has lobbied the legislature in the past for both horse racing and casino gaming interests. Two years ago, Ice Miller hired away Rep. Luke Messer (R-Shelbyville) to work as a lobbyist for the firm. Messer's district included Indiana Downs, the track owned by Paul Estridge.

Bauer is probably most concerned about what Kuzman's departure will mean to control of the Indiana House. Kuzman's seat was once considered Republican before he won it. Republicans might have a shot at picking it off in next year's election. Bauer will no doubt have to devote substantial resources to saving what otherwise would have been a safe Democratic seat.


Unknown said...

I would be surprised if Kuzman's district were competitive...are there *any* Republican lawmakers from Lake Co.? Also, I'm not sure what his district looked like 11 years ago, but I would suspect that the most recent redistricting would have made it safer, if that were an issue.

Gary R. Welsh said...

There are Republican areas in Lake County.

Anonymous said...

Kuzman's a young guy with a family. What's wrong with him or anyone else going into the private sector to try to improve their careers? Revolving door? Maybe, but that's life. And for now it's legal.

Gary, when you were a lobbyist, did you think you were 'greedy'?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon, no I didn't think I was being greedy. I worked for the Illinois legislature for 6 years before I moved to Indy to go to law school. I got a job at a law firm based on academics and experience--top 10% of my class and law review. I had no prior connections to the law firm which hired me, and I didn't rely on anyone in politics to help me get the job. I was paid the same as any other associate at the firm with similar experience. I studied the issues I was working on and ably represented my clients I represented before the General Assembly. I didn't spend my time wining and dining legislators, taking trips with them and otherwise purchasing their influence. If they supported my client's position, it was because I did my job and did it well. I never personally gained from any work I ever did over at the State House. Check the personal finances of the lobbyists in the hallways over there. You would be surprised at all the self-dealing they do--sometimes behind their own client's backs.

Anonymous said...

When the people of the state get their tax bills and see just what the legislators did for (to) them. They will be lucky if any of them get elected again!