Pence signs measure overhauling Marion County government

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Saturday signed a bill into law that reshapes Marion County government through the elimination of four at-large City-County Council seats and other changes.

Senate Enrolled Act 621 gives the Indianapolis mayor more budgetary oversight of county office-holders, including the prosecutor and sheriff.  It also grants the mayor the right to appoint five of nine members to the Metropolitan Development Commission, compared to the four members he appoints now.

Pence acknowledged the signing was controversial given the political makeup of the mayor's office and the at-large council seats being eliminated. Mayor Greg Ballard is a Republican and the four at-large seats belong to Democrats.

“Despite my misgivings about certain aspects of SEA 621, I am signing this legislation because it serves the public interest by granting to the current mayor of Indianapolis—and any future mayor of either political party—the authority to manage the city’s finances in a manner that protects taxpayers and encourages economic development and job creation," Pence said in prepared statement.

The elimination of the seats begins with the 2015 election and could change the power structure of the council. Democrats now have 15-14 majority.

“I am concerned that signing this legislation will eliminate four at-large seats that are currently held by one political party," Pence said. "However, I am consoled by the fact that nothing in this legislation removes the incumbent council members before their terms expire or erodes the right of voters to express their will to elect the mayor and City-County Council majority of their choosing in 2015. Were it otherwise, I certainly would have vetoed this bill."

The measure also shrinks residency requirements for mayoral and council candidates to one year; does away with the council’s power to assess a one-time tax on the Capital Improvement Board; reduces Marion County’s township boards from seven members to five; and mandates centralized counting of absentee ballots in Marion County.

“I applaud Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana General Assembly’s decision to protect Marion County taxpayers, promote economic development and strengthen the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department,” Ballard said in a prepared statement.

[I'm] disappointed in governor's decision to sign SB 621 into law," council member Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, said on her Twitter account. "SB 621 allows [the] mayor to lead [without] bipartisan compromise. "What was the point of having the 2011 elections? Results from Nov. 2011 just erased!"


  • Oh, Puhleeze...
    Pence has been nothing but a pawn and a puppet of the far-right wing factions since he first ran for public office. Was there ever any doubt in anyone's mind that he would do everything he could to ensure control of the capital city of the state that he intends to propel him toward the White House??? By the way, Heaven help us all...
  • No state nor city nor county rights!
    Please do not insult our intelligence! Pence was THE spokesperson for the national GOP from 2008-2010. To say that the national identity of the Republican party is not pulling the puppet strings on our state -- and CITY/COUNTY -- politics, is purely laughable. And watch there be NO reprocussions!
  • Happy in the 'burbs
    Marion county is going to collapse on itself if it doesn’t do something ‘to right the ship.’ The bloated government structure is the cause of ridiculous property taxes which chases away taxpayers like myself. After paying $3400/year for the ‘privilege’ of living within the city, we built a 20 year newer house about the same size and saw our taxes drop to just over $1000/year with outstanding schools and less crime. I believe the reason is more parental involvement in every aspect of their children’s lives.
  • Whine on
    Pence only signed it, the legislature wrote and passed it, so whine while yea may. Vop could easily win another district, and even run for Mayor himself. What goes around comes around usually, so we'll see what 2015 brings?
  • Marion Co. Government Legislation
    This is so discouraging. What happened to the people who routinely weep and moan about the intrusion of the Federal government into State government issues? Isn't this about the same thing. Shame on you, Republicans!!
  • goes both ways
    This kind of short sighted decision making can easily backfire on the Republicans. Andy Jacobs was gerrymandered out of office after two terms in the Congress because he wouldn't go along with a decision that the Republicans wanted him to do regarding adding of a federal judgeship here. He was out one term, then back in for 13 more terms. The district has not been Republican since. When inevitably there is another Democrat elected to the Mayor’s office, not having at large councilmen could easily work to the advantage of the Democrats. When one party has control of the whole situation, we the people always suffer in one way or another.
  • Pence Meddling
    Pence has forgotten that he did not win the election by very much margin and things like this make him very defeatable. He nor the legislature have any business meddling in Marion county's affairs. This will also help Ballard get defeated next time since they are linked by party. Ballard barely, barely won last time over a weak Demo candidate.
  • Control
    As usual a power play on the part of the Republicans. They will do anything to keep their party in control of the state and local offices. Even though it won't come into the effect until 2015, I agree with Maggie Lewis what was the use of voting them in the 2011 election.

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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.