Like ‘drinking out a fire hose’
MICHIGAN CITY – Authoring bills on issues ranging from ending right to work to permitting the use of medical marijuana, state Rep. Pat Boy had quite a productive freshman year.
But with none of her proposed legislation making it out of committee, and the Republican super majority in the General Assembly stymieing her and fellow Democrats’ goals during the past legislative session, Boy had much to be frustrated ab out since her arrival in Indianapolis, as well.
Several weeks removed from the end of the 2019 Legislative Session, the Michigan City, Democrat shared her experiences from the first several months serving the 9th District of the Indiana House with members of the Rotary Club of Michigan City on Thursday afternoon. The former City Council member discussed the legislation and resolutions she had a hand in, some challenges she and other Democrats faced, and her priorities heading into next year’s session.
Boy, a Rotarian, was elected to the legislature last November, starting her term the day after Election Day.
“When they tell you something is like drinking out a fire hose, that is what it was like,” Boy said, describing her first few months in office.
While learning on the fly, she sponsored several pieces of legislation, and authored a total of 15 bills and resolutions during the session, which ran from Jan. 3 to April 24.
Her proposed laws included:
• Repeal of Indiana’s right to work law
• Establishment of a sentencing procedure for bias-motivated crimes
• Prohibiting schools from beginning the school day before 8 a.m.
• Requiring school corporations to increase teachers’ salaries 2-5 percent
• Creating a commission tasked with redrawing Indiana’s existing General Assembly and Congressional districts
• Permit the cultivation, dispensing and use of medical marijuana by people with severe health conditions
None of her proposed bills were heard in committee, though, which Boy attributes to her status as a first-year representative and member of the minority party. She did get two bill amendments on the house floor, though, she said.
Boy, a member of three committees, including Elections and Apportionment, was disappointed that bills on issues such as redistricting were largely ignored by the General Assembly, she said.
There were several Democrat-supported policies General Assembly Republicans did get on board with, though Boy did not see much to celebrate, she said. For instance, the bias crime bill signed into law in April did not specifically protect victims of crimes motivated by gender identity, sex, age or ancestry.
“Every Democrat voted against it, but we’re a super minority, so it didn’t make a difference what we said,” she said.
Boy also voted against the state budget – which she described as a “mess.” Passed in the waning days of the session in late April, the budget provided increased funding for private schools while only providing meager pay raises for public school teachers, she said.
Like many Democratic lawmakers in the area, she also opposed the provision in the budget that dissolved the current South Shore Line board in favor of one with members nominated by the governor.
“It was a low blow because nobody [in our party] knew about it,” Boy said.
The Democrat’s main priority next year will be continuing to pursue legislation to redraw legislative districts, which she believes is a significant reason for GOP’s control. Boy hopes to find common ground on the issue and work with lawmakers of both parties to make redistricting a reality.
“We can’t have whichever party is in power making the decisions on who belongs in their district,“ she said. “It’s crazy. The Democrats have done it, too, and it’s wrong. We need to fix it.”