MAURER: Legislators finish hatchet job

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Mickey MaurerAccording to Aesop, a woodsman went into the forest and petitioned the trees to provide him a handle for his ax. It seemed so modest a request that the principal trees granted it right away, and they declared that the homely ash should furnish what he needed. No sooner had the woodsman fitted the staff for his purpose, however, than he began chopping down the noblest trees in the woods. By the time the oak grasped the entire matter, it was too late. He whispered to a neighboring cedar, “With our first concession, we lost everything. If we had not sacrificed our humble neighbor, we might still be able to stand for ages.”

The woodsman and his ax have been unleashed upon our forest. Suspecting that serving up a majority of Hoosier Republican lawmakers would resurrect debate on social issues in spite of recent pronouncements of the governor, we nonetheless furnished the ax handle. This good-faith effort to support the governor’s sound fiscal policy sacrificed the homely ash. We elected a host of wild-eyed radical woodsmen who would splinter the noblest trees of our society—our rights and the rights of our fellow men.

Appreciate the cruel irony. We elected this Legislature and gave them that ax handle to be fiscally responsible, but each of the following actions (either passed or on the road to passage as of press time) has the opposite effect on the budget.

• The marriage rights amendment not only prohibits the union but the other incidences of marriage attached to any unmarried couple. It is nothing less than hate legislation—an unnecessary trampling on the rights of an innocent minority. It shamelessly panders to the homophobic fringe element of our Hoosier population. The amendment will have an adverse effect on business and economic development. Some businesses that may otherwise consider moving to Indiana will not. Indiana will undoubtedly lose convention business and many of our finest citizens will find friendlier communities in which to live.

• The amendment to make Indiana the only state to defund Planned Parenthood curtails, if not denies, the right of access by the poor and uninsured to needed health care. Countless patients will find themselves without access to birth control and to life-saving tests to avoid the tragic outcomes of cervical and breast cancer and sexually transmitted disease. This irrational assault on sound public health policy is a blind attempt to reduce abortion. By causing a greater number of unwanted pregnancies, the amendment would likely have the opposite effect. Cutting off Planned Parenthood jeopardizes millions in federal planning dollars. Denying access of the poor to birth control would increase the Medicaid-covered births in Indiana—already one of the highest rates in the country.

• The failure to enact a comprehensive smoking bill callously denies the right of a smoke-free workplace to countless Hoosiers and perpetuates the death march of these workers from cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Our neighbors Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have joined most states to enact a ban. We are now the ashtray of the Midwest. This, coupled with an attack on the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency that halves the budget for smoking prevention and terminates that independent organization, shows utter disdain for the health of Hoosiers, particularly our children. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, almost 7,000 more state kids will grow up to become addicted adult smokers because of the cut in tobacco prevention funds. Curtailment of Indiana’s quest to reduce smoking and the effects of secondhand smoke costs Hoosiers. According to the research department of the ITPC, tobacco use costs the state $2.08 billion in health care costs every year. Withholding significant funding to statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs would not only kill Hoosiers but continue to drive up these costs.

And the moral of this story: The electorate that surrenders the ax handle to a radical few—no matter the reason—will feel that ax as it is used in wanton destruction of the rights of everyone in the forest.•


Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.  His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.


  • correct on 2 of your points, but...
    You got it incorrect on the last one. Last time I checked, smoking IN ACTUALITY causes health care costs to be less, due to the fact smokers tend to utilize less health care services, and die earlier in life.

    If smoking and tobacco use is so detrimental to health, shouldn't those who are against smoking campaign for an outright ban on the sale of ANY tobacco product, rather than just incremental smoking bans where one day they'll be asking for bars to be smoke-free, and the next thing you know, they'll call for outdoor spaces like any outdoor portion of a public park to be smoke-free, and perhaps even your own personal residence? (such as what the California communities of Belmont and Sebastopol have done, only exemption in either community is standalone homes, and NO GRANDFATHERING for any residents that've smoked in their residence for many years) Keep in mind when the modern anti-smoking movement started in the 1970s, they were only calling for non-smoking areas in workplaces, restaurants, and on airplanes. Their movement(to ban smoking in more and more places, and even increasingly your private residence) has always been about deception, when you consider that anti-smoking groups always increase their demands on how many indoor and outdoor places they selfishly want to be smoke-free over time, when current Indiana law already covers truly public places which both smokers and non-smokers must use, such as public transit vehicles and government buildings.

    There is no reason for intruding on the property rights of privately-owned businesses that permit smoking and selfishly wanting all to suddenly ban smoking, with the exception of the fact that I wouldn't mind if such businesses were required to post clear exterior signage and clearly disclose on job applications and in job interviews of their indoor smoking policy, and for any areas of a privately owned business permitting smoking to be restricted to the entry and employment of those who are 18 and older.
  • Morality?
    Yea, like the majority that voted to deny women's right to vote or the states that voted to keep slavery. The maority you address, Lin, is not the people, just he bought off hacks in the legissature.
  • Wrong X 3
    Mr. Maurer, you are wrong X 3

    Marriage rights - voting done on behalf of majority of Hoosiers' beliefs. Accept it. It's not homophobia message, it's morality message.

    Planned Parenthood - those women can still get free healthcare and you know it. At all hospitals and clinics who provide fertility medical help, for "free", including abortions. PP can also get private donations, all they want and whenever they want. Just ask for lots of $$$$ from all of you who are ok with paying for killing children. The rest of us should not be required to do so.

    Smoke-free worksites - You want to work in a smoke-free place? Get a job at a smoke-free place. If it's such a strong issue, then all the businesses who allow smoking won't be able to hire employees. They'll be forced to be smoke-free if they can't find employees or customers. If I don't want to be in a place where smoking is allowed, I won't go. Again, let the business owners decide smoking or not. Problem takes care of itself. No need to make laws about it. Kids smoke because of role models around them who do and the ease of getting cigarettes. Attack the problem of new nicotine addicts from those two angles. Irresponsible parenting - the scourge of society, from crime to education failure to healthcare costs.

    Laws, laws, laws, and more laws. The government micro-managing us. We're all being seen and treated like incompetent toddlers in need of federal and state parenting.

  • Who represents whom
    Thanks Mickey, I read all the positve feedback and wonder where the business community was when these legislators were voting aginst civil rights, women's health and the public's health. The votes were certanly not backed by the wider public that I encounter.
  • Well said
    Mickey, you've aptly described my three biggest frustrations with this year's session. Such short-sighted actions will cost us so much in the long run.
  • Rights Trample
    Yes, but that particular bill should be called out as an example of what we SHOULD be expecting of our legislators. Lawful gun owners have had their rights denied by unconstitutional local ordinances for far too long. Just because YOU don't like the 2nd Amendment doesn't mean you have the right to sacrifice it like the ash tree the writer started his article telling us about.
  • Thank you
    Well said Mr. Maurer. Thank you for being a voice of reason and civility.
  • I agree
    It is good to see someone who is respected in the business community have some common sense. How about adding the passage of a bill that prohibits local gov't entities like cities and libraries from banning guns?
    • Hatched job
      Thank you Mr. Maurer for having the guts and sensitivity to give voice to those Hoosiers without a voice. Yes, it sure has been a bait and switch kind of year to the long term detriment of our state.
    • Thanks
      Another Home Run, Mr. Maurer. Thanks.
      The funniest thing is after all they talked during the campaign season about the economy and jobs bing priority number one, strange that not a single jobs bill came out of the legislature. Its really too bad Brian Bosma, as speaker, was unable to pull together his caucus to think possibly they should work on maybe one or two bills that actually improve the quality of life for Hoosiers instead of digging up every wedge issue they could get their hands on. They were too concerned with making the Democrats sorry they didnt allow the Republican minority to control the agenda for the previous 2 years. They have really gone off the deep end, and thats really a shame.
    • Hatchet job?
      So....the author is pro gay marriage, pro abortion and anti-smoking?
      Well, atleast that is what I got from his "hatchet job".

    • Hatchet job?
      So....the author is pro gay marriage, pro abortion and anti-smoking?
      Well, atleast that is what I got from his "hatchet job".

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    1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

    2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

    3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

    4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

    5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.