The focus on local government reform efforts in 2010 has been and will continue to be on townships. If you’ve missed that debate thus far, check out some amendments that unfortunately didn’t pass here and practical points on the need for change from Rep. Ed DeLaney here. You can even have your say on the Indiana Prosperity Project web site.
But another reform bill is to be heard today in the Senate Elections Committee. SB 241 contains some common sense provisions that should be adopted. Among them:
- Move city elections to even-numbered years (it costs a lot of money to conduct elections; why separate votes on municipal candidates from others)
- Place the names of city candidates before those running for township offices (who should not be on the ballot anyway)
- Give counties the option of electing a single county chief executive in place of the board of county commissioners(similar to how presidents, governors and mayors serve countries, states and cities). In addition, the county council would become the legislative and fiscal body
- Prevents employees who work in a political subdivision (city, county) from serving on the legislative body that governs that subdivision. In other words, stop people from having a say in deciding their own raises and other issues that directly impact their job. This is a growing problem in a number of areas
These would be good first steps toward a government that operates more effectively and efficiently.
No one ever said local government reform, especially when talking about townships, is an easy topic to completely understand. There’s a complicated system that has 150-plus years of history — and complexity — behind it. Lots of numbers are thrown about. Many people like, and benefit, from the status quo despite the inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.
State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) is leading the charge in the House of Representatives in 2010 with a bill that would eliminate townships. In an interview that aired earlier today on the "Abdul in the Morning" radio program on WXNT (1430-AM in Indianapolis), DeLaney clearly explained why this is an important issue, why he has made it a top priority and why you should support his efforts. Take a few minutes to listen — and then act.
Listen to the interview.
Another day, another thought along the lines of: "Is there a prayer we will have a new state budget within the next two weeks?"
Actually, the budget was not even a topic of discussion as the House Ways & Means Committee once again took center stage. But there was no reason for optimism. A brief recap:
- The best idea came from freshman Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis), who called for giving the governor the power to use millions in township government reserves to solve the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) funding shortfall. Only problem was it made too much sense. A lack of support prevented full consideration and a vote
- Democrats on the committee did pass numerous other amendments that had little, if anything, to do with the CIB situation. There was random testimony before and after the fact. Only it really didn’t matter. Republicans opposed the bill when it came to a final vote and committee chair Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) pulled the bill because he wanted bipartisan support. Like that old Saturday Night Live skit, "Never mind!" Of course, it will be revived in some form in the Senate
- Ways & Means did pass SS 1003 (audit of administration’s public assistance privatization efforts). House convened for less than five minutes to accept commitee report and called it a day
The drama resumes on Wednesday — full House at 9 a.m. (presumably for second reading on the budget bill) and Ways & Means at 11 a.m. Those around the legislative process, however, know these times mean little.
Four days of special session activity, a lot of people talking and very little accomplished. What’s so special about that? Stay tuned for the next installment.