IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Legislators should stick to the basics and go home

 IBJ Staff
January 23, 2010
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IBJ Editorial

We like the Indiana General Assembly’s no-nonsense approach to this year’s short legislative session—at least it looks good on the surface.

Bills that would write property tax caps into the state constitution flew through both the House and Senate, clearing the way for a voter referendum on the matter this November. This is a no-brainer for legislators and Gov. Mitch Daniels, who can all crow about watching out for taxpayers’ interests while relying on taxpayers themselves to settle the matter.

If the caps become permanent and lead to chronically underfunded local governments, the voters will have only themselves to blame.

To legislators’ credit, they’ve also made headway on a few of the local government reform measures that could help those governmental bodies run more efficiently.

For example, a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to eliminate township trustees and township boards passed the House and is being considered by the Senate.

More far-reaching reform efforts—such as eliminating township government altogether—aren’t likely to go anywhere in this session. It’s an election year, after all. Lawmakers want to end the session on time—or early—and without delving into controversial issues. They have no stomach for a topic that would upset their political allies back home.

But that desire to wrap up business early and head for the hills doesn’t mean there aren’t bills being heard that are unnecessarily taking up legislators’ time.

Once again, there’s a bill designed to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. The Legislature approved such a measure in 2005, but it had to pass again in 2007 or 2008 to go before voters as a ballot measure. That didn’t happen, but this year, Sen. Carlin Yoder is starting the debate anew. His bill was approved on the committee level Jan. 20 and is expected to win support from the Republican-controlled Senate.

We hope this unnecessary, divisive measure fails in the House, and we’re disappointed some legislators are consumed by an issue that some of the state’s largest employers have spoken out against in the past.

Other, more obscure bills are equally unnecessary. Senate Bill 177, for example, would politicize the process now used to govern development in Indianapolis historic districts. It would allow the City-County Council to control the makeup of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, which approves or denies projects in the districts, and would give the council authority to overrule the commission’s decisions. The process has worked relatively well for more than 20 years, doesn’t need fixing, and isn’t worth legislators’ time.

Daniels stuck to the basics in his Jan. 19 State of the State speech. Legislators should do the same, finish necessary business, and return to their districts.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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