A passing grade for legislature


(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

During the 2017 legislative session just ended, members of the Indiana General Assembly considered 1,426 bills.

That’s far too many, even for the every-other-year long session.

Of those bills, 271 bills, or about 19 percent, reached the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

That’s far too many.

Of those 271 bills, Holcomb vetoed exactly one of them.

That’s far too few.

The legislature had but one job it had to get done — passage of a new two-year budget. It accomplished that and produced what seems to be a good fiscal plan, honestly balanced and for the most part wisely spent. If it had done that and nothing else, the session would have rated an A grade. And if legislators had gone ahead and killed a few pieces of existing legislation, it would have been an A+.

But legislators have to legislate. They get to Indianapolis and feel compelled to get something done, so they author bills in hopes that their names will be carved into the state’s legislative history, so we get 1,426 bills. Who out there honestly thinks Indiana needs 1,426 pieces of improvement?

All cynicism aside, though, we’ll give this legislative session a passing grade. Lawmakers got done the big things they had to — especially the budget, a long-term infrastructure program and needed improvements to Indiana’s workforce development programs.

And they did not succumb to the need to adopt symbolic gestures marking a perceived moral high ground — things the minority Democrats claimed would give Hoosiers the good life, such as hiking the minimum wage, enacting a hate crimes statute and extending civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.

The one thing the General Assembly didn’t tackle that it should have was to take redistricting out of the political process to eliminate gerrymandering and give citizens a say in the matter. But there is still time before the next Census to get that done.

So now we await next year’s short session, which was originally intended to deal only with the kind of emergencies that arise because not all contingencies can be anticipated with a two-year budget. When we see how many bills are introduced in that session, we shall learn yet again that not everyone has the same definition of “emergency.”

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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