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Gov.-elect Pence to seek losers-pay tort reform

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Gov.-elect Mike Pence will include tort reform in his first-year legislative agenda, which is slowly taking shape.

Pence has declined to release the details of his agenda before he is sworn in Monday. But Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has filed Pence's proposal to make those on the losing end of lawsuits pay all of the legal fees.

Delph also is leading a group of eight senators who will push Pence's proposal for a 10 percent cut in the personal income tax.

Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, is introducing Pence's workforce development plan in the Senate, which top legislative leaders have said will be a priority during the 2013 session. But Pence's hallmark tax cut measure has run into resistance from top Republicans who want to wait until new tax collection estimates come out in April before making a decision on whether to back it.

"I'm going to fight to do what I can to make his agenda happen," Delph said.

The tort reform measure marks a somewhat new priority for Pence: The former U.S. Representative never mentioned the issue in the governor's race, but talked about it routinely in Washington, D.C.

Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault did not return messages seeking comment Thursday.

The proposal has long been a priority among conservatives nationwide and would change Indiana's law to require that losers pay all the fees for civil lawsuits. Judges now have discretion over who decides.

Pence's tort reform would replace the trial systems' "American Rule" — a measure designed to protect the minority which has been in place since the 1700s — with "English Rule," which makes it harder for people to take on powerful interests, said Micki Wilson, executive director of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.

"The trial lawyers support the 'American Rule', we won that fight in the 1700s," she said.

A few days into the new legislative session, much of Pence's agenda has yet to be revealed. But that's expected to change in the coming weeks.

"We're going to meet with the bipartisan leadership of both parties, talk about this session of the General Assembly, and then our other meeting of the day will be with our economic development team," he said Thursday.

Kruse plans to push Pence's proposal to create workforce councils around the state. The councils would be run through the Indiana Education Roundtable and most likely be split into nine districts, matching the state's nine congressional districts, Kruse said.

"They would match the jobs with what training is in the high schools now," Kruse said.

The tax cut and workforce development proposals were stops on Pence's campaign "roadmap," but the specifics of how to would accomplish his promises have yet to be answered, likely as drafted legislation.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he understands if the Pence team is taking its time putting its goals in legislation. Pence left Congress on Jan. 3, and has only recently been able to focus his full attention on assuming the governor's office.

He's also still building his team of advisers and Cabinet members, although many of those jobs were filled out this week.

"Of course they've got to get on their feet and get directed and direct themselves toward their goals. That takes a little time to warm up," Bosma said. "I'm sure we'll hear from the governor in a very strong fashion at his State of the State. That's generally the kickoff point for any governor's legislative initiative."

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  • State Income Tax Refund
    Mike, how about overturning your predecessor's ruling on how to refund the excess surplus. It should be returned to tax payers in the way it was collected, not evenly.
  • Missed This Agenda in Pence's ads
    Gee, I must have been so mesmerized by Pence and his wife, standing in their flannel shirts and jeans in front of the red barn, next to a pick up truck, that I didn't pick up on this being one of his top agenda items. Oh wait, he didn't mention this in his ads. Makes you wonder what other pro-rich people hidden agendas he intends to inflict on Hoosiers with his super-majority.
  • Be Wary
    Be prepared for an onslaught of Social Justice reform issues too. For example, I've heard that he will be unveiling a Marriage Tax Credit that is determined by how long you have been married. Come on....really? Do we need this. Does this stimulate job creation? What value does this bring. And where will the Singles, Never Married tax credit be to have some horizontal equity. It's only the beginning. Oh and not to mention that he's waited so long to name his agency heads that many have found other jobs and he is hiring many of his church and family friends....

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  1. From the story: "The city of Indianapolis also will consider tax incentives and funding for infrastructure required for the project, according to IEDC." Why would the City need to consider additional tax incentives when Lowe's has already bought the land and reached an agreement with IEDC to bring the jobs? What that tells me is that the City has already pledged the incentives, unofficially, and they just haven't had time to push it through the MDC yet. Either way, subsidizing $10/hour jobs is going to do nothing toward furthering the Mayor's stated goal of attracting middle and upper-middle class residents to Marion County.

  2. Ron Spencer and the entire staff of Theater on the Square embraced IndyFringe when it came to Mass Ave in 2005. TOTS was not only a venue but Ron and his friends created, presented and appeared in shows which embraced the 'spirit of the fringe'. He's weathered all the storms and kept smiling ... bon voyage and thank you.

  3. Not sure how many sushi restaurants are enough, but there are three that I know of in various parts of downtown proper and all are pretty good.

  4. First off, it's "moron," not "moran." 2nd, YOU don't get to vote on someone else's rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the US Constitution. That's why this is not a state's rights issue...putting something like this to vote by, well, people like you who are quite clearly intellectually challenged isn't necessary since the 14th amendment has already decided the issue. Which is why Indiana's effort is a wasted one and a waste of money...and will be overturned just like this has in every other state.

  5. Rick, how does granting theright to marry to people choosing to marry same-sex partners harm the lives of those who choose not to? I cannot for the life of me see any harm to people who choose not to marry someone of the same sex. We understand your choice to take the parts of the bible literally in your life. That is fine but why force your religious beliefs on others? I'm hoping the judges do the right thing and declare the ban unconstitutional so all citizens of Wisconsin and Indiana have the same marriage rights and that those who chose someone of the same sex do not have less rights than others.

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