[r54] Letter to the Editor (3/16/2009)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Start Date: 3/16/2009 All Day
End Date: 3/16/2009
Local government reform bills took a big hit last week in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee.  All of the surviving local government reform bills were combined into one and then rejected by a vote of 1-7.

The way these bills were combined and rejected is strange.  However, this is a huge relief to many of us in rural Indiana communities. 

The bills, inspired by the Kernan-Shepard report on local government reform, amounted to a one-size-fits-all approach to reforming local government.  Not surprisingly, the size was mostly tailored to more urban communities - not predominately rural communities such as our own.

The Kernan-Shepard recommendations fail to take into account that some counties have one-quarter of a million residents, while others have barely 10,000.  There are townships in some counties that have as many residents as entire counties.  It is ridiculous to assume that what works for counties such as Marion or Hamilton will work as well for counties like Henry or Wayne. 

Next, reforming Indiana's local governments in one fell swoop holds everyone to the lowest level acceptable.  Some local governments are doing a great job.  They are frugal with taxpayer money, and they know how to save it and spread it out to provide necessary services at a high level of quality.  The families in these communities support their township and county government, and they have been some of the most vocal opponents to these Kernan-Shepard recommendations.

Moving ahead, state legislators need to keep these bills where they are - dead.  Allowing the provisions in these bills to creep back into bills in the conference committee process could have devastating effects for our state.  Also, tucking these rejected provisions into legislation would blatantly disregard the legislative process by not allowing a vote on the House floor, where all of our representatives are able to weigh in and reflect the will of those who put them in office.