INdiana Systemic Thinking

October 2, 2008

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker Loses Cancer Battle

From the AP, via the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker, a Goshen Republican who helped push statewide adoption of daylight saving time during his two decades in the Indiana General Assembly, died Tuesday at age 71.

Riegsecker died of cancer at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, where he was surrounded by his wife, Norma, and immediate family members, according to the Senate Republican caucus. Riegsecker was diagnosed this year with lymphoma and decided not to seek re-election.

Riegsecker, a retired pharmacist who was first elected to the Senate in 1988, was a longtime supporter of statewide daylight saving time and helped usher the contentious proposal through the legislature in 2005.

“I just want to get this over with,” Riegsecker said on the day when the daylight time bill won final approval. “I guarantee if it’s not over with, it will come back to haunt us again.”

Riegsecker represented Senate District 12, which covers most of Elkhart County in northern Indiana. He worked to protect consumers from counterfeit prescription drugs and championed causes such as providing services to those with developmental disabilities.

“In my four years in state government, I never met a kinder or more decent person than Marvin Riegsecker,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said. “Plus, he was brave in helping us tackle tough issues, always caring more about Indiana’s future than his own political future.”

Riegsecker was hospitalized for parts of the last legislative session.

“Legislative colleagues will always remember Sen. Riegsecker’s intelligence, passion and commitment,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “We will all miss Marvin greatly.”

The Blogmeister wishes Sen. Reigsecker’s family well in their time of sorrow.


October 1, 2008

Matt Lauer Screws up on “Today” Show

Filed under: Politics: Legislators — kurtglmft @ 10:58 pm
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This morning I’m sitting in my favorite chair, drinking a cup of coffee, and watching the “Today” show. They announce Robert Kennedy Jr. Is going to be interviewed by Matt Lauer. Here is the clip:

I just about spit coffee all over myself! For those who are historically challenged, Robert Kennedy Jr. is the son of former Attorney General and Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy, who was assasinated in 1968.

February 27, 2008

2004 Indiana Health Insurance Law Misses Mark

The Indianapolis Star Business section has a great in-depth story on the 2004 insurance change in Indiana that allowed insurance companies to either deny insurance policies for pre-existing conditions, or waive coverage for 10 years for those conditions. At the time, it was touted as a way for more people to be covered, at a lower price, because the insurance companies would not have to cover “high risk” patients. In addition, in 2004, Indiana was only one of two states requiring insurance companies to cover these “high risk” patients. When the law was being discussed in the legislature, the insurance companies told our representatives they were in support of this measure, because it would help more of the citizens of Indiana get coverage, at a lower cost.

Well surprise, surprise. We now find more people are not covered, and, in fact, there are less people covered and the insurance companies continue to make record profits.

Here are some quotes from the story:

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, sponsored the change in Indiana law and hoped it would reduce the number of people denied health insurance.

She also wanted to limit the increasing number of people who had no choice but to seek insurance through the state’s high-risk insurance pool, which covers people who can’t get insurance from any other source. The pool was facing insolvency.

“We believed having some insurance was better than having none at all,” Miller said.

Miller said she’s had no complaints.

Rep. Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka, opposed the measure and still thinks it benefits only insurance companies. He called the measure just an effort by the insurance industry to “take advantage of people who need health insurance.”

Rich Collins, chief executive of Golden Rule Insurance Co., an Indianapolis-based subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group that sells individual policies, said Hoosiers have access to a strong and competitive health insurance market.

Collins said his company offers coverage to more than 89 percent of applicants.
“The fundamental issue is that health care is expensive,” he said.

I’ll let the reader make up their own mind as to what was really going on back in 2004, but I thinking it’s pretty clear this turned into a huge bonus for the insurance industry at the expense of citizens regardless of the intent.

Mr. Collins also got my dander up as he hit on a pet peeve of mine. “Health care” is not the same as health insurance. While “health care” may be expensive, health insurance is generally 30% higher to cover administering the policies, and paying his salary. Making health insurance much more expensive than health care.

February 24, 2008

Sen. David Ford Pens Letter, Updates Condition

State Senator David Ford updates us on his condition in a letter published by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.  I’ll post the whole letter here.

I would first like to thank Rep. Tim Harris for hosting our town meetings while I have been ill. He has been a really great partner, as we have represented Blackford and Grant counties over the last four years.

Second, I profoundly want to thank everyone in the Senate district for their support, prayers, cards, e-mails and wishes that have been sent.

I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and I am now home and feeling very well. I am under the care of my nurse-wife Joyce, sister-in-law Kelly Ford and Family Hospice of Northeast Indiana. They are a troop of angels who make it possible for me live in my own home and still get a very high level of medical care and attention. I have begun a course of chemotherapy with Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. So far my body is tolerating the treatment quite well.

I have not been able to get back to the Statehouse since falling ill on Jan. 15, but I am able to participate in several ways. I attend caucuses through teleconferencing. I talk to various Senate colleagues on the phone daily. I get all of the bills and documents electronically. I can watch the Senate sessions and committee hearings live via the Internet. With the help of Senate co-authors, I have two bills (SB 190 and SB 197) that have already passed the Senate and House of Representatives and will shortly be on their way to the governor for his signature.

Obviously, this is not the way I would prefer to be representing my district, but it is the best I can do for now. I am able to deal with all of my mail, calls and e-mail, so if you contact me with your thoughts on legislation or your needs with regard to state government, I and my wonderful legislative assistant will give the same service that we have tried to provide in the past.

Briefly, on the issues: Rep. Harris has a handout covering major points of the Senate Republicans’ property tax relief package. I am firmly convinced that the General Assembly will take major steps toward property tax reform by the end of the session.

Thank you for your understanding and for all of your kindnesses. It is this “heart of gold” spirit within Hoosiers that constantly reminds me of why I do this job and how important it really is.

SEN. DAVID FORD  Hartford City

February 21, 2008

McClain, Ruppel Running: Ripley Stepping Aside

Two Indiana legislative members announced their intentions to seek re-elections today, while another announced he would not run.

According to the Carroll County Comet,

State Representative Rich McClain (R-Logansport) has announced he will seek re-election to the Indiana House of Representatives in House District 24.

McClain represents of Cass, Carroll, Miami and White Counties.

McClain was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1994 and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Statutory Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Reports,

State Rep. Bill Ruppel, R-North Manchester, announced Wednesday morning he will seek re-election in House District 22.

The district includes all of Wabash County and the eastern and southern portions of Kosciusko County.

Ruppel was elected to the House in 1992. He is the ranking Republican member of the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety committees, and is a member of the Financial Institutions and Environmental Affairs committees.

In another story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette,

State Rep. Mike Ripley, R-Monroe, announced Wednesday he has decided against seeking re-election in House District 79.

The former Adams County commissioner has served as a member of the Indiana House since 1996.

He is the ranking Republican member of the House Insurance Committee. He also serves on the House Financial Institutions and Labor and Employment committees.

February 16, 2008

Rep. Amos Thomas Files for Re-Election

From the Brazil Times:

…the Parke County native and Brazil resident officially threw his hat into the ring Thursday, as he filed for candidacy as state representative for District 44.

During a phone interview, Thomas, a Republican, told The Brazil Times he only waited to file for re-election because he was still recovering from ongoing health issues. The deadline to file for the upcoming election is Feb. 22.

“The main reason was because I was in the hospital and not really thinking about much except for my recovery,” Thomas said. “I was thinking about this all the time, but to tell you the truth, I had an awful hard time concentrating on anything. I just had too much to do and too short of time.”

He is the fourth person to file for the position. Other candidates include Republican Duane Conover and Democrats Richard Thompson and Nancy Michael.

February 14, 2008

Update: Sen. Ford’s Condition

The Howey Political Report posted an update late last night on the condition of State Senator David Ford:

State Sen. David C. Ford (R-Hartford City) who is fighting pancreatic cancer, is back home receiving hospice services and continues to monitor legislative business, the Senate Majority Caucus announced late Wednesday. Ford participated this week in discussions with Statehouse colleagues via speaker phone. In late January, family members confirmed the Hartford City lawmaker was “critically ill with cancer” and underwent surgery.  Ford started his first course of chemotherapy and said his body is responding to the treatment, but it is too early to determine its success. Ford said he is answering e-mails, checking on the status of his legislation and is encouraged by his bills’ progress. Although difficult at times, Ford said the Internet allows him to watch session and committee meetings.

IST Screws up

Filed under: About The Blog,Announcements,Politics: Legislators — kurtglmft @ 8:02 am
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Yesterday, I posted on the condition of State Rep. Thomas Amos.  Unfortunately, I mistakenly reported his position as that of Senator, instead of State Representative.  I messed up.  To make matters worse, it was not a random blog reader who pointed this out to me, but Jim Shella, who I assume is the same Jim Shella who is WISH-TV’s political reporter.  Since I have never been shy about pointing out errors in mainstream media reporting, this one stung a bit.  Still, I appreciate him pointing out the error and am honored to count him as a reader. 

February 13, 2008

Sen. Amos Thomas Returns to Senate

Filed under: Announcements,Indiana,Politics: Legislators — kurtglmft @ 9:09 am
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The Brazil Times is reporting:

Rep. Amos Thomas (R-Brazil) returned to the Statehouse Monday after back surgery and serious complications kept him away for five weeks.

“I did not anticipate that I would miss any of this legislative session due to my surgery, and it was difficult to be away, given the importance of this session in particular,” Thomas said. “However, I have been kept well-informed and up to date on what is happening to address the statewide property tax problem.

“While much work has been done already to help homeowners substantially, there is a great deal of room for improvement. I believe we can further reduce spending at all levels of government.”

Thomas returned as a member on two House legislative committees, Judiciary and Courts and Criminal Code.

[Blogmeister Note:  While the story repeated refers to Sen. Thomas as “Rep.”, he is, in fact, a state Senator.]

The interested reader may see my prior posts on Sen. Thomas’ condition here , here and here.

Rep. Hoy will not seek Re-election: Riecken Files

From WTHR:

Rep. Phil Hoy, a Democrat from Evansville, said he wants to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren. Hoy plans to serve out his current term but will not seek re-election in House District 77, which covers downtown Evansville and other areas in Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.

Then, shortly after the announcement, The Evansville Courier Press reported:

Gail Riecken, former city councilwoman, announced she would seek the position.

Riecken, first took office when she was appointed to fill the remaining city council term of Frank McDonald II when he became Mayor, will enter the race by filing at 4:30 on Wednesday.

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