Tag Archives: Brian Bosma

Oh, Indiana…

The #metoo movement has certainly caused a lot of discomfort for men who previously behaved badly, secure in the conviction that predatory behavior was their right as males.

Here in Indiana, we are seeing the shock of men who have suddenly realized that other people don’t view their activities with the benign “men will be boys and it’s always the girl’s fault anyway” attitudes they formerly depended upon.

Most widely publicized, of course, are the recent allegations against our Attorney General, Curtis Hill. Hill has continued to indignantly deny what everyone knows is true: he fondled/groped female legislators and staff at a bar during a sine die party.

Actually, that’s the least of Hill’s transgressions, in my opinion. I’m even more offended by the fact that he’s taken Indiana into a number of national “culture war” cases–on the wrong side–in which Hoosiers have no discernible interest. Such interventions expend state resources–human and fiscal–on causes where the only “benefit” is a higher profile for the Attorney General.

Hill’s grandstanding shouldn’t surprise us: Hill is something of a national joke as “the Elvis impersonating AG.” (I kid you not. Watch the You-Tube..) And of course, an African-American conservative Republican is something of an anomaly….

Less “snicker-worthy” is the effort led by Brian Bosma to down-play his sex-play.

Bosma’s relationship with a young woman who was a General Assembly intern at the time (she was a 20-year-old student at Ball State University; Bosma was a married 34-year-old representative) has been a staple of statehouse gossip for several years. Evidently triggered by concerns that the young woman was going to “go public,” Bosma hired a local attorney to “investigate” her–i.e., dig up dirt he could use against her if she did decide to talk.

That story and the ongoing Hill saga prompted calls for legal measures that would apply to members of the General Assembly. This being Indiana, those “calls” were essentially answered by none other than Brian Bosma (we don’t recognize conflicts of interest in Indiana), who as Speaker of the House appointed the personnel subcommittee of the Legislative Council, coincidentally, the subcommittee charged with recommending sexual harassment prevention policies.

The subcommittee met in a closed-door executive session Nov. 7 to finalize the proposed policy changes. I know it will shock Hoosier readers of this blog to learn that the policies they proposed were something less than ideal.

An Indiana employment law professor calls the proposed guidelines to combat sexual harassment at the Indiana Statehouse “shockingly dated” and designed to insulate lawmakers from liability.

“The proposal is grossly under-inclusive and arguably a waste of time and resources since the legislature could easily just affirm that all of its state employees, contractors, members, unpaid workers, interns, etc., are subject to federal and state law,” said Jennifer Drobac, a law professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Drobac identified a few of the inadequacies of the proposals and the process that produced them.

Drobac questioned the wisdom of House Majority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, being involved in the process of revising the sexual harassment policies. An ethics complaint has been filed against him for using campaign funds to investigate a woman who said she had a sexual relationship with him in the early 1990s.

The proposed policy says that the speaker or other member of the ethics committee shall not participate in the review of a harassment claim if they are the subject of the complaint.

“However, what if they are the not the subject of the particular complaint but have conflicts of interest or a history of inappropriate (or ineffectual, i.e. failure to properly investigate) behavior,” she questioned.

The terms of these proposed guidelines aren’t the only “shockingly dated” attitudes being displayed by Bosma and the “boys” at the Statehouse. Someone needs to explain to them that a hate crimes law that omits protections for transgender Hoosiers (which is the version Bosma says he’ll allow) is tantamount to a message that crimes against some marginalized categories is okay with them….

What were those lyrics?

Back home again in Indiana…
And it seems that I can see
Our 18th Century legislature
Still staying pure
Through the sycamores for me




Our Salacious Statehouse

This week, the Indianapolis Star and other local news outlets carried a story about Speaker of the House Brian Bosma’s effort to intimidate a woman who admitted to having had a consensual (albeit “pressured”) sexual contact with him when she was a Statehouse intern in 1992.

She was 20 years old at the time; he was 36.

According to the news reports, the woman didn’t come forward of her own volition; she responded to media inquiries. None of the reports I read identified who made those inquiries, or what triggered them after all these years, but after Bosma’s attorney questioned her family,  her friends, a former boyfriend and ex-husband in an effort to gather unflattering information about her, she decided she was willing to answer questions about the decades-old allegation.

Bosma evidently paid his lawyer $40,000 to dig up dirt to discredit the woman. The money came from his campaign account, raising (for me) the question whether those who donated to that account were cool with this particular application of those funds…

Bosma is currently in charge of drafting the General Assembly’s new sexual harassment policy, a task made necessary by public reaction to groping allegations lodged against Indiana’s exceedingly unpleasant, grandstanding Attorney General, Curtis Hill.

That seems….awkward, to say the least.

The Indianapolis Business Journal quoted a former staffer to the effect that the Bosma liaison was the “worst-kept ‘secret’ at the Statehouse.”

Actually, if gossip is to be believed, the “worst kept secret” is how common it is for male lawmakers at Indiana’s Statehouse to try to “pressure” female interns and staffers, and that it has gone on for years. When the Curtis Hill story broke, a number of the politically-connected women I know wondered aloud whether there would be a genuine investigation of those charges, and if so, whether that investigation might finally lead to an airing of other complaints, and a change in several lawmakers’ testosterone-fueled behaviors.

Randy male legislators may be an old story, but Bosma’s reported effort to intimidate and discredit the woman admitting to the encounter– his willingness to pay $40,000 for “dirt”  he could use to smear someone he had pressured into a sexual act–is pretty despicable.

Republicans in the Indiana House have closed ranks around Bosma, who is thus far denying everything. The Governor (also a Republican) has declined to authorize an investigation, and Bosma’s district is so red it would take a blue tsunami to vote him out. So maddening as it is, he will probably “suffer” some embarrassment, at most–and proceed to craft the Statehouse’s sexual harassment policy.

If the #metoo movement has done nothing else, it has opened a lot of eyes–including mine–to the prevalence of sexual harassment. Too many women–including me–have thought for years that these “incidents” that happened to us were relatively rare, and probably our own fault; we were “open” or “approachable” in ways that invited boorish (or worse) behaviors. We coulda/shoulda resisted “pressure” from men in positions of authority who held power over us.

It may be time for #metoo to become #I’mmadashellandI’mnottakingitanymore.


Bosma: The Grownup in the Room

Well, the usual suspects are all ganging up on Brian Bosma, the Speaker of the Indiana House, who has had the temerity to suggest that, if we want roads we can drive on, we probably need to pay for them.

As the Indianapolis Star reported

Hoosiers could pay more for gas and cigarettes under a road funding proposal being crafted by Indiana House Republican leaders.

The proposal also would provide for a study about turning I-65 and I-70 into toll roads.

House Speaker Brian Bosma provided some details about the proposal during a legislative conference Downtown on Wednesday. The funding plan would index the state’s fuel tax to inflation and gradually shift all of the 7 percent sales tax on gasoline to the motor vehicle highway fund, which is used for state and local road projects.

Bosma said the plan would create a sustainable, long-term solution for maintaining Indiana’s roads and bridges, but he acknowledged that some would consider it a tax increase.

Now, it’s perfectly reasonable to argue for alternative ways to raise the necessary revenues, or to ask for assurances that funds raised will be prudently spent– but those aren’t the arguments being mounted by Bosma’s opponents. They are opposed to anything that looks remotely like a tax. No matter what.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said the proposed tax adjustments would be a tough sell in the legislature, where many Republicans have pledged never to increase taxes.

This impasse is a stark reminder that there are two kinds of Republican in Indiana (as elsewhere): those interested in actually governing, and those (like our embarrassing Governor) interested only in pulling down a public paycheck for posturing and pontificating. And there are more of the latter than the former.

News flash, ideologues: there is no free lunch. There is no way to provide necessary public services, no way to maintain critical public infrastructure, without adequate funds. Taxes are “user fees”–they are the price we pay for civilization, our social “membership dues.”

Grownups understand that.

Brian Bosma’s Very Good Bill

As Indiana’s legislative session gets underway, there is (as usual) plenty to criticize. (Senate Bill 100 –which ThinkProgress has dubbed “The most anti-LGBT LGBT Rights Bill Ever”–probably tops the list. See their analysis of the bill or Doug Masson’s if you want to understand why), but it’s certainly not the only item on that list.

In the interests of balance, however, it’s worth noting that the news is not all negative.

Speaker Brian Bosma has introduced a really good bill, one that will actually support public education in Indiana. (Given the beating that public education has taken at the hands of Indiana’s Administration and legislature the past few years, this is a really positive change.)

The idea is to incentivize young people to go into education; the Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship program promises to give Indiana’s top high school students an opportunity to earn a full scholarship to any accredited in-state school of education, so long as they spend five years teaching in an Indiana classroom after graduation.

The five-year commitment is based upon research suggesting that, after five years, a new teacher is “hooked”–likely to remain in the profession for the long haul.

Although it is very early in the process, the indications are that the bill–or at least the general approach–enjoys widespread, bipartisan support.

Wouldn’t it be great if the upcoming session of the General Assembly turned out to be one in which Republican and Democratic lawmakers worked together on this and other measures to address the actual problems Indiana faces, rather than yet another iteration of the culture wars that have dominated past sessions? (Just the thought makes me tingly all over…)

Good for you, Speaker Bosma!

Now, can you bury S.B. 100? Somewhere deep?

How a Bill Shouldn’t Become a Law

Remember the old cartoon developed to teach students “how a bill becomes a law”?

A proposal is introduced. It is assigned to a committee that reviews it, hears testimony about it, and deliberates its merits. The committee then votes whether to advance the measure. If the vote is affirmative, the entire chamber votes on it.

In bicameral legislatures (those with both a House and Senate), a positive vote sends the bill to the other house, where the process is repeated.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma is teaching young people–who are disproportionately interested in the fate of HJR 3–a different lesson.

What if a bill the Speaker really wants passed is assigned to a committee that actually does its job–a committee that deliberates based on the evidence before it and the testimony it has heard? What if that committee then concludes that the bill should be defeated?

Why, you just change the rules.

You don’t abide by the decision of the lawmakers you assigned to make that decision.  You cheat.

Speaker Brian Bosma insists that there is nothing unusual in his decision to take HJR 3 away from the committee to which it was originally assigned. And it’s true that some bills are reassigned, mostly in order to expedite the process, or because on closer examination the bill really belonged elsewhere.

In this case, the change was made for one reason only: to get the result Bosma wants. The decision he couldn’t get playing by the rules.

Even more incredibly, the Speaker has scheduled the new committee’s vote for tomorrow. The vote will be taken without the benefit of evidence or testimony–but then, as we’ve seen, the Speaker considers evidence and testimony irrelevant. The only thing committee members need to to know is what the Speaker wants them to do.

Usually, the power plays and the wheeling/dealing is done behind the scenes. This time, that wasn’t possible. This time, everyone got to see what is seldom on public display: the House leadership’s absolute contempt for democracy and the rules of fair play.