Don Sherfick

SJR-7: A well conducted hearing

Filed By Don Sherfick | March 23, 2007 8:20 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: marriage amendment, scott pelath, SJR-7, SJR7

Before much more time passes, I wanted to note for the record my appreciation for the manner in which House Rules and Legislative Policy Committee Chairman Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) conducted the hearing on SJR-7 last Wednesday. There had been some earlier skepticism on this blog and others related to his being named as a House co-sponsor of the measure by Senator Hershman, and that fact that he had voted for SJR-7 in 2005. I don't know the full details of the sponsorship angle, but have been told that such "bipartisan designation" is not uncommon, and I continue to suspect that he was not consulted in advance.

Whatever the circumstances, his conduct of the hearing was a model of fairness to both sides. When I led off the opponent's testimony, I carefully stayed within his "five-minute" request, and because my counterpart for the proponents had significantly exceeded that limit, he virtually invited me to continue to even things up. (I chose not too knowing there were many others waiting to speak).

His questioning was insightful, and I was well satisfied that he and other committee members grasped well the basic issues. He indicated in his closing remarks that he concurred with some things that he had heard, and didn't quite buy some other things, and said that this applied to both proponents and opponents. I don't think that was just rhetoric. While I would of course hope that his vote would favor our stance (and I'm optimistic that it will), the important thing at this point is that the listening process was fair and evenhanded, and for that I thank him.

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I was talking with Pelath's staff shortly after posting my Hershman hearts Pelath story. They confirmed that Hershman had listed Pelath as the sponsor of the amendment without consulting him.

Originally the Representative's staff had planned to issue a press release through stating that the good Rep hadn't authorized that. Unfortunately, they mentioned it to someone-who-won't-be-named who told them to "stay away from" so they decided not to do so.

Staffs Sometimes LIe, Bil | March 23, 2007 1:44 PM

Think over the above staff member's comments, Bil.

If you're a Representative, and your name gets listed as a cosponsor on a Senate-passed bill (they ask in the house of origin, for title of the act and opposite House's sponsor), you have ample opportunity to set the record straight. (Pardon the pun)

It happens on the House and Senate floor all the time. Authors & sponsors are added and dropped.

Rep. Pelath conducted a fair hearing. But he has voted for this bill in the exact same form in the past. And he could easily have had his name removed from this bill if he wanted.

The venomous nature of the bilerico response from staff, should tell you something. Pelath is no friend. He's doing a mildly decent job of fence-riding.

Well, in a battle like this, pardon me all to hell, but I want to see my friends and foes without benefit of fence-sitting. I can handle an opponent. Bring it on.

Fence-sitters like this, who really aren't, gripe me.

And he sits in a very powerful position.

"The venomous nature of the bilerico response from staff, should tell you something.
I'm sorry, Staffs, but I don't know what you're referring to here. The staff wasn't venomous in any way - they were very friendly and pleasant. We had a couple things lined up. It was someone from our side who convinced them not to have anything to do with us...