Time, time, time is on my side
We all know that Mick Jagger did not have the Indiana General Assembly on his mind back in 1965 when he recorded “Time is on My Side” with Keith and the rest of the band. I must say the song did come into mind a few times during our recently concluded “short session.” Indeed, if you are a fan of limited, prudent government, time really is on your side in the short session.
The short session of the General Assembly runs in the second year of Indiana’s two-year budget cycle. It was set up to be a short 10 weeks because it was thought that most work would be accomplished in the long session, which is 16 weeks and when the budget is prepared. This has proven to be the case, but that hasn’t stopped legislators from trying to continue to address as many issues as possible.
During the short session, which concluded on March 13 this year, 879 bills were filed between the House and the Senate. By the end, 225 bills became law by passing in both chambers. That is a lot of legislatin’ for 10 weeks.
Many of the legislative issues we addressed were high-profile:
1. The proposed constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as being a union between one man and one woman received much attention in the media, but actually did not take a large amount of legislative time. In the end, the language was amended from what was originally introduced; therefore it will not move to the ballot this fall (I voted against changing the original language and in favor of the amendment);
2. Counties were given the opportunity to decide whether to exempt new investments on business equipment from business personal property taxes (I voted against this as I think it is government merely picking winners and losers as it puts existing businesses that do not need new business personal property at a disadvantage to new businesses that do);
3. A five county pilot program was created to increase access to high quality preschool for children from low-income families (I supported this limited program); and
4. Up to $400 million may be transferred for major road funding, allowing Indiana to be eligible for additional federal funds (I voted in favor of this proposal).
One issue that did not receive enough attention was a “repealer” that was passed which eliminated thousands of lines of code which had become outdated or obsolete.
All in all, this year’s short session operated as it was supposed to; the committees scaled back many proposals that, while well-intentioned, needed to be reined in. Some good bills were passed, some bad bills failed either in committee or for lack of time, and many necessary, though unglamorous, bills made it through. There was a wide-range of legislation which became law on a dizzying array of topics from feral cats to tanning beds, some of which will impact many people, but most of which were simple tweaks to make existing law better.
I have become a fan of the short session. As a believer in limited government, I found this year that the time limitations of the short session function as a great “restrictor” that helps keep the amount of new law and regulation in check. After all, it is much easier to tell a colleague and friend that their idea cannot be heard for lack of time then for it not having much merit. In other words, if you love liberty, then time, time, time is on your side in the Indiana short session. If only we could export the idea of a part-time legislature to our friends in Washington, D.C.!
State Rep. Tom Washburne serves as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Washburne represents the entirety of Gibson County and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.