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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Oh, go ahead, then

The governor is apparently retreating from his "legislators can't walk and chew gum at the same time" argument:

Gov. Mitch Daniels has backed down on his request for a moratorium on social issues in the upcoming legislative session.


He told 6News' Norman Cox on Thursday that social conservatives in the Legislature can go ahead with bills important to them, as long as they don't sidetrack important measures like the budget and reforming schools and local government.


The governor angered many social conservatives earlier this year when he said those issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage, need to take a back seat to more pressing issues affecting taxes and the economy.

The change of heart followed the distribution of a letter to Republican legislators from Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, and Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, who are pushing a package of five pro-life bills, including one to ban all abortions after 20 weeks.

[. . .]

Opponents of same-sex marriage are also expected to mount a new effort to ban it through constitutional amendment.


"I can focus on all those things and still change the oil in my car, too," Walker told Cox. "I mean, there's other things to be taken care of."

I wonder what all that is about. Is Daniels trying to smooth it over with the social conservatives because he'll need their support for some of the tough non-social issues he wants to push through, like local government reform and education vouchers? He says pushing a values agenda is fine with him as long as it doesn't get in the way of the "really crucial" things like keeping the state in the black and improving the economy, and, besides, his call for a social-issues moratorium was aimed at Congress anyway.

I think the governor is right. This will be a session in which legislators need to focus first on the "have to" issues before they get to the "want to" ones. But I also don't think the social conservatives have been just hanging around waiting for Daniels' approval. Abortion, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration are probably going to be pushed hard.