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Indiana House Democratic Leader: Keep Divisive Issues Out of Session's Second Half


The top Democrat in the Indiana House of Representatives is giving his Republican colleagues a good grade for avoiding divisive social issues during the first half of the legislative session, as he requested.But  Minority Leader Scott Pelath  said that could change if the GOP majority takes up some controversial abortion legislation that has cleared the Senate.Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers, and in a floor speech Thursday, Pelath said so far House Republicans have earned a B-plus for steering clear of volatile social issues.  "It crowds out the public discussion, it create bad feelings in this chamber and it makes it harder to work together.   And guys, if we start talking about transvaginal ultrasounds in the second half of this session, this will turn to an F," he said. Pelath was referring to Senate Bill 371, which among other things,  would require a woman seeking abortion- inducing drugs from a clinic to first undergo an ultrasound exam.     There have been disputes over whether some women would have to undergo the more invasive transvaginal ultrasound.Its GOP sponsor says the bill is intended to protect women’s health;  one opposing lawmaker has called it harassment.The measure is awaiting a House committee hearing.   House Speaker Brian Bosma tells theIndianapolis Star that he expects the bill to go through the normal process. Pelath also gave the House GOP a grade of D-minus for its work so far on education matters.   He drew laughter from the chamber when he assigned them a grade of Incomplete on issues affecting the state’s middle class."You haven’t done that great, but you’re trying," he said. 

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.