INDIANAPOLIS — House Speaker Brian Bosma used the ceremonial opening of Indiana's legislative session Tuesday to call for bipartisanship, even though Republicans now enjoy a supermajority that largely allows them to circumvent Democrats to push through their agenda.
The GOP speaker cited his father, Charles Bosma, working across the aisle with Democratic U.S. Rep. Andre Carson's grandmother, Julia Carson, and delivering services for the disabled when they served together in the state Senate in the late 1970s and 1980s. Those two were known as they "odd couple," and Bosma said he'd like to see that concept revived in the current session.
He then ticked off a list of priorities, including funding early childhood education, approving performance-based pay for teachers and schools, and training more science and math teachers.
"Where is the odd couple in this room that will set political differences aside, and concentrate on giving Hoosier families that want early childhood education but can't afford it, the opportunity that most of us in this room enjoy?" he asked the group.
Lawmakers took care of some official business during the informal opening known as "organization day," although the major work won't begin until they return on Jan. 7. The Legislature must draw up a new biennial budget, ponder options with the federal health care law, adjust to a new governor for the first time in eight years and balance all other issues ranging from education to gay marriage.
Indiana's state senators met earlier Tuesday afternoon for a brief session marked by the swearing in of four new members and the formal re-election of Fort Wayne Republican David Long as Senate president pro tem.
The 2012 elections dealt House Republicans a powerful hand, granting them enough seats to push through legislation even if Democrats walk out, as they did in the last two sessions. Since the election Bosma, and the newly-elected Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, have stuck to a collegial tone.