In a bid to make Indiana great again, the state is busy unraveling the legacy of Mike Pence and undoing many of the new vice president’s decisions during his term as Hoosier governor.
And this unraveling is being done by his fellow Republicans.
The Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana Republicans took steps on Thursday to undo many of Pence’s policies. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Pence’s former lieutenant governor and his hand-picked successor took matters in hand only three weeks after Pence’s transition, calling a press conference and announcing that he was calling a halt to negotiations to lease out state-owned cell towers. Pence had promised an Ohio company that the state would cover the cost of over $50 million in construction projects.
Gov. Holcomb also pardoned Keith Cooper. Cooper was wrongfully convicted of robbery almost 20 years ago. Yet, in the face of resounding evidence of the man’s innocence, Mike Pence had declined to issue pardon stating that Cooper had exhausted his legal options. The 49-year-old Cooper had been recommended for a pardon from the Indiana Parole Board.
Quoted in The Washington Post, Holcomb told reporters:
“I am very much at peace pardoning him. I believe he is innocent of that crime.”
Gov. Holcomb also declared a state of emergency for an East Chicago neighborhood that had been evacuated due to lead contamination. Pence had refused a request to issue a state of emergency, claiming that it wasn’t needed as state and federal agencies were already aiding the area.
Holcomb has been contradicting Mike Pence’s policies for Indiana since last month, when he announced that he would support local needle exchange programs that Pence had opposed, to reduce the spread of disease from sharing needles among drug users.
Also back on the table is the option to increase state taxes to support road work, an infrastructure program that Pence had opposed.
While Gov. Holcomb was announcing the change in direction to press from his office, the Republican majority state General Assembly was busy overriding two of Pence’s vetoes from 2016.
Indiana lawmakers had passed a measure in 2016 allowing private university police the option to keep their records secret, which Pence have vetoed. On Thursday, state House members overturned the veto 93-2.
Mike Pence had also vetoed a measure passed last year that would prevent state regulators from issued stricter environment rules than those issued at the federal level without review by the General Assembly. The House turned over Pence’s veto 65-20.
The state senate will be voting on those issued early next week, and they are expected to override the vetoes as well.
Republican Brian Bosma, state House speaker told the Indianapolis star that they were aware of how overriding Pence’s vetoes might discredit the new vice president:
“Of course it was a concern. We’ve talked about them. He was aware they were going to be acted upon at some point, but quite frankly he has a lot bigger fish to fry right now than worrying about these two bills.”
Republican state senate leader, David Long says he believes the vetoes will be overridden by the senate next week and told IndyStar:
“I don’t know if it’s really rebuking anything as much as just a recognition that things changed.”
State Democrats, however, are finding the Republican backtrack on Pence policies “fascinating.” House Minority Leader Scott Pelath told the IndyStar:
“The Mike Pence legacy came to a very quick end today, probably the shortest one in Indiana gubernatorial history. We just saw his final two vetoes overridden. Gov. Holcomb made the very common sense decision to address the East Chicago lead problem, which has been our own Flint (Michigan) in the making. He pardoned an innocent man which seems basic human decency. And he allowed that bicentennial cell phone tower deal to die a cow’s death here in the Hoosier state.”