INDIANAPOLIS) June 22, 2007 - State Representative Mike Murphy (R-Indianapolis) and State Senator Pat Miller (R-Indianapolis) met with a small group of local south side residents Thursday evening at Nativity Catholic Church on Southeastern Avenue to discuss state government and the events that occurred this past legislative session. Fifteen people were in attendance to listen to the two legislators describe the legislative process and answer pointed questions regarding state and locally significant issues, such as property taxes, the marriage amendment and economic development. Ron Kramer, a member of the church and the organizer of this event, asked the two to speak from their hearts. In the end, it appeared Kramer's request was granted.
The most pervasive topic of the evening was property taxes. Both legislators indicated the $2.65 billion allocated for property tax relief is insufficient; however, the two pointed to overspending at all levels of government and an antiquated property tax system in desperate need of reform. Rep. Murphy described a unique recurring problem in Franklin Township, where young couples are lured into buying new homes at very low monthly mortgage rates, only to be hit with staggering property tax bills later. He described one story in which only five dollars a month were placed into a couple's escrow account to cover property taxes.
"These couples emerge from the situation broken. Suddenly, their credit is ruined, they are without a home, and their dreams of home ownership are shattered," Rep. Murphy said.
For lasting property tax reform, the two legislators agreed it would take significant political maneuvering and compromise. Both, however, expressed a strong desire to work towards a better system. Rep. Murphy said he had encouraged Governor Daniels to call a special session to deal solely with the issue of property taxes.
Beyond taxation, the night's discussion delved into other difficult matters such as prayer in the Statehouse and the protection of traditional marriage. Sen. Miller and Rep. Murphy both described the strong influence of lobbyists and interest groups on the lawmaking process. Additionally, they described the power of party majority in both houses and the power of the Speaker of the House to stifle controversial bills in order to save caucus members from accountability to the public.
For those in attendance, the meeting was an enlightening and engaging look into the Indiana General Assembly. While Ron Kramer and other Nativity Parish members expressed regret for low attendance, both Rep. Murphy and Sen. Miller conveyed their appreciation for being invited and the importance of events such as this.
"This is the first time I have seen a Catholic church in our area put on an event like this one," said Rep. Murphy. "It is a great opportunity for citizens to learn about what's going on in the Statehouse and a great opportunity for me to learn what issues are important to people in our area."
Rep. Murphy encourages local constituents to contact him with questions or concerns through e-mail at email@example.com, or by calling the Statehouse toll-free at 1-800-382-9841. It is also possible to write him at 200 W. Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.