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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!"
 

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  • 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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