Daniels Backs Off Moratorium On Social Issue Legislation

Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage Expected To Be Raised Next Year

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.

Without naming Daniels specifically, Walker and Culver criticized his argument that lawmakers should only focus on economic issues.

"We believe that with 150 legislators, we can give adequate attention to the many important issues our constituents feel are important," the letter read.

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."

Daniels seemed to back down from the moratorium plea Thursday afternoon.

"As long as it doesn't get in the way of the really crucial (objectives) -- keeping Indiana in the black, improving our economy and bringing big reform to things like education. As long as it doesn't get in the way of that, there's plenty of time and capacity," Daniels said.

Daniels also said the moratorium plea was never really aimed at the state Legislature, but Congress.

"I was answering questions about the nation's situation, which I think is very grave in terms of our economic and financial future. I said the priorities ought to be there," Daniels said.

There is a lot of bipartisan agreement on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage within the Indiana Legislature.

The sticking point the past four years has been Democratic House Speaker Pat Bauer's refusal to even hear some of these issues. But now that new Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican, will allow them to be heard, they could be approved rather quickly.