The Indiana Chamber and MySmartGov have been champions of sensible government reform in Indiana, and have supported suggestions from the Kernan-Shepard Report that would eliminate townships, among other excesses. The Evansville Courier & Press now reports Governor Mitch Daniels will firmly put his weight behind these measures in the 2012 session:
Gov. Mitch Daniels will make one last push for local government reforms – this time, a select and scaled-back set of them – during the final legislative session of his administration, he announced Friday.
Daniels unveiled his legislative agenda for the Indiana General Assembly’s 10-week 2012 session, which starts Jan. 4, during a speech at the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis.
He said he will lobby for structural changes at both the township and county levels, as well a crackdown on conflicts of interest among municipal workers who also sit on the elected bodies that set the budgets for their employers.
It’s another try at implementing more of the recommendations offered in 2007 by a blue-ribbon panel chaired by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
This year, as freshman Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City takes over the chairmanship of the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, Daniels said he believes the conditions are right for more progress than he has made in the past.
“We’re going to try to approach it in a little simpler way,” Daniels said.
He said he hopes four local government changes that have stalled out in previous sessions can gain more traction this year. Those four are:
– Allowing counties to switch their executive structure from three-member groups of commissioners to a single county commissioner.
– Abolishing three-member township advisory boards that oversee township trustees’ budgets and bumping their fiscal oversight duties up to county councils.
– Eliminating nepotism – that is, the ability for local elected officials to hire their relatives to do the area’s work.
– Restricting “conflicts of interest,” or situations where those who are paid by local government, such as police, firefighters, park employees and more, also serve on the councils that set their budgets.
“I think if we could get action on two, three, four fronts like those, this would be good. Those are some important reforms. I’ve always believed that we wouldn’t do this in one or two big gulps; it would have to be an incremental process, and this would get the process moving forward,” he said.