Some legislators have announced their intentions of taking the road of less resistance to achieving local government reform by punting it to the voters for county-by-county referendums.
The Indiana Chamber strongly opposes such actions as it is fully within the authority of the Legislature to make all of the recommendations by the Kernan-Shepard Commission (except for the one concerning the constitutionally required election of certain county officials).
Why do legislators single out local government structural issues to go to a referendum? Primarily because it provides cover for their friends in local government at home and tends to make it less controversial. There are many reasons why there shouldn’t be voter referendums for the local government reform legislation. For one, a county-by-county referendum would result in a hodgepodge of governmental structures, making things worse than they are now. Our voters elect legislators to represent them in the General Assembly and deliberate on hard issues and make tough decisions, not to pass the buck. Local government tends to be invisible to many citizens. To educate them on the nuances of Indiana’s complicated system of local government is a massive and costly process that can and should be avoided. The Chamber will be working with its allies to ensure referendums related to local government do not pass.
In Gov. Daniels’ recent State of the State address, he said, "The largest and most momentous of our opportunities lies in the area of governmental reform. The cost in dollars, confusion and just plain bad government of our 150-year-old system is by now completely beyond dispute. … The hour for action has arrived."
* This is an excerpt from our weekly Legislative Report. Indiana Chamber members receive the full report each Friday during the General Assembly session.