They Don’t Even Want To Hear It…

In the U.S. Senate, Republicans are repeating a line made infamous by Indiana’s own Earl Landgrebe during the Nixon Impeachment: My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.

Landgrebe’s line also describes the current Indiana GOP, which has declined to hear any debate about a good government measure offered by Rep. Ed Delaney as an amendment to House Bill 1414. (Regular readers will recall my post on this effort to tell Indiana’s utilities that they won’t be permitted to go ahead with their plans to close down their inefficient, costly and carbon-producing coal plants unless the EPA has mandated the closure.)

After noting that what he termed HB 1414’s “coal bailout” would raise the cost of electricity for Hoosiers and worsen the air quality in the state, Delaney proposed an amendment that would make it a Level 6 felony for a coal interest or person who has a vested interest in coal to make a contribution to a political candidate or committee.

“I’ve grown concerned about the growing distrust Hoosiers have in our political system,” DeLaney added.

“If the state is going to subsidize an industry at the expense of taxpayers, lawmakers should not be allowed to take political contributions from that industry. Special interests shouldn’t be influencing such impactful legislation. The amendment I offered today would’ve held the coal industry to the same standards as casinos who can’t contribute to political campaigns. I am concerned to restore a greater sense of trust between Hoosiers and their legislators.”

The amendment was blocked from debate on the House floor by House Republicans.

At all levels of government, when Republicans have the power to do so, they block efforts to conduct the sorts of full and fair explorations that would be likely to  inform the public but would be politically detrimental to the GOP.

If the facts make them look bad, they simply refuse to allow discussion of those facts.

In the case of HB 1414, as I noted previously, the utilities oppose it, environmentalists oppose it, and consumers get screwed by it. Coal companies must therefore depend upon their friends in the legislature to ignore the facts and protect them–and no one is friendlier than a lawmaker who benefits from an industry’s generous campaign contributions.

Representative Delaney’s amendment would remove the impression that coal interests had “purchased” the “friendship” of state legislators. Surely, if the impression is incorrect or unfair, lawmakers would be delighted to publicly debate it and pass it.

In Washington, they’re following in Earl Landgrebe’s footsteps. Despite taking an oath to act as impartial jurors, they are prepared to exercise raw power to prevent testimony that would confirm the accuracy of what they already know, because that testimony would be further evidence that they value party and power more than country or integrity.

The Republican super-majority in Indiana has declined even to debate the propriety of a rule against legislative bribery, presumably because citizens who followed such a debate (few as they are likely to be in the absence of local journalism) would see them protecting their ability to raise money from industries they subsidize.

Talk about a quid pro quo…

by Sheila Kennedy