The same-sex marriage amendment overshadowed so much of the last legislative session that casual observers might believe the General Assembly devoted all of its time to divisive social issues.
That’s not the case, fortunately. Republican lawmakers Kathy Heuer and Rebecca Kubacki made important contributions this year in bolstering the state’s economy, protecting women and children and helping adults get the job skills and training they need. Each brings a perspective that serves the legislature well. Each is deserving of the party’s nomination on May 6.
Their principled stands on some of the divisive social issues, however, brought them primary challenges from tea party supporters. Voters in Heuer’s House District 83 and Kubacki’s House District 22 should consider the incumbents’ records from the viewpoint of what’s best for education, jobs and family.
Heuer, 66, has held an unwavering focus on jobs in her first two terms, accruing an impressive legislative record in creating more employment opportunities. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. recently named her the 2014 Workforce Champion. In the just-ended session, the former Columbia City business owner co-sponsored legislation to require the state to spend at least half of the funds available for part-time student grants on adults pursuing programs in high-demand, high-wage jobs. In 2013 a bill she authored was approved to grant a sales tax exemption for prototypes – to support research and development.
Heuer’s vote against the marriage amendment likely triggered her primary challenge, but she said she has no regrets.
I don’t think putting that language into the constitution will do one thing to protect traditional marriage, she said. We can see now some of the consequences of putting tax caps in the constitution.
Heuer’s challenger, 35-year-old Christopher Judy, did not respond to a request for an interview with the editorial board. A veteran, he is employed at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly plant. He told The Journal Gazette’s Niki Kelly he would seek legislation allowing Hoosiers to carry firearms without a permit.
District 83 includes most of Whitley County and a portion of southwest Allen County, including all of Aboite Township.
Kubacki, 61, emerged in her second term as a vocal advocate for women and children. This year she accomplished what many others have failed to do – standing up to the bullying tactics of Advance America to strengthen rules for church-based child care programs accepting taxpayer-provided subsidies.
Thirty-one children have died in child care settings since 2009, including a toddler who drowned in a baptismal font at an Indianapolis church.
If you don’t want government in your child care, then don’t take government money, she said. It’s not about regulating churches. The real issue is whether we are going to make sure kids are safe.
A Syracuse resident whose parents were migrant workers, Kubacki also succeeded in establishing the state’s first income tax credit for adoptive parents.
Of issues in the upcoming session, Kubacki acknowledges the challenge the state faces in ensuring residents have access to health care without expanding Medicaid.
Kubacki’s challenger is Curt Nisly, 41, owner of a computer sales and service business. He said he decided to seek the nomination after a meeting he attended about Common Core standards. He said Kubacki interrupted other speakers and was belligerent.
It was a pretty ugly thing that was the last straw for me, Nisly said.
Indeed, the Goshen resident seems to be driven by anger at Kubacki rather than an interest in serving. Asked what committees might interest him, the 41-year-old struggled even to name a legislative committee.
As to tougher child care regulations, Nisly said he doesn’t support the state telling churches what they should do.
District 22 includes most of Kosciusko County and a southern portion of Elkhart County.