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. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

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