Legislature weeds out bad ideas


The committee system of the Indiana Legislature manages to weed out many ideas for bad laws.

Sometimes good ideas get cut short, too.

Two bills that went nowhere this year are among many that deserved their fate.

One dead bill proposed to take the nomination of U.S. Senate candidates away from voters and choose them in state political conventions.

Sen. James Buck, R-Kokomo, said his idea would reduce the influence of money and the media.

If Senate candidates did not have to run in statewide primary elections, it would not cost a fortune to seek the office, Buck said. Candidates would not have to depend on large donations from interest groups.

Eventually, however, they would need big bucks to run in the fall election.

No other states are turning back the clock by returning Senate nominations to the control of party bosses.

Indiana already chooses its candidates for six lower-profile statewide offices (state auditor, treasurer, etc.) in party conventions. That’s more than most states, but those offices have far less influence than a U.S. Senate seat, and no one is clamoring to choose them in primaries.

Another bill that died a quiet death would have allowed Hoosiers to drive golf carts on state highways.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, reportedly said it should be up to a golf cart’s drivers and passengers to decide if they should go on highways, not state law.

As much as Hoosiers love individual freedom, sometimes we do need laws to protect us from our own foolishness.

Sadly, the committee system also seems to have killed a good idea this year.

With Indiana leaders reluctant to approve teacher pay increases until 2021, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, came up with an alternative.

Smaltz proposed giving every teacher a $1,000 state tax credit that would be basically as good as cash. His bill never got past the starting line, however.

Teachers, however, with needed skills might get a raise this year, through a bill co-authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn.

Kruse’s plan would allow teachers to receive extra pay for teaching certain courses that are in high demand — or becoming qualified to teach them.

The bill applies to advanced placement courses; classes that earn dual credit for high school and college; elementary math, reading or literacy; special education; science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”); and career or technical education.

An amendment to Kruse’s bill would allow a teacher who is rated as “improvement necessary” to receive a pay raise equal to 50% of the raise for an effective teacher. Right now, no raise can be given to a teacher needing improvement.

If all teachers can’t get a raise this year, a targeted increase to specific educators would be better than nothing.

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