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In mad dash by state lawmakers, errors can happen

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When Indiana's legislative leaders called the General Assembly back for one day last week, it was because they had discovered a handful of mistakes made earlier this year that just couldn't wait until the next session to be fixed.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said that part-time legislatures working with limited time and resources are going to have mistakes occasionally.

"We're a citizen legislature and we have a short session compared to others," Long said. "Now, we get a lot done in Indiana, but we work hard and we work quickly. And there oftentimes is an avalanche of legislation coming in at the end. And it really overwhelms LSA [Legislative Services Agency] and the Legislature. ... Once in a while there's a mistake. But typically between the proofreading that goes on at the House and the Senate and the LSA, we don't miss very much."

Leaders said last week's meeting was their first time using a "technical corrections day" solely to fix errors since the tool was established by lawmakers in 1995. They used it last year to override Gov. Mike Pence's veto of tax legislation, including a measure that retroactively approved the collection of taxes in Jackson and Pulaski Counties.

But it's not the first time the General Assembly has made a serious mistake.

One of the biggest was when lawmakers accidentally repealed the Family and Social Services Administration, the state's social services agency, in 2011. Lawmakers did not return to fix that problem Instead, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed an executive order ensuring the state's largest agency continued operating until lawmakers could fix their error during the 2012 session.

"Some thought that might not be a bad thing, so we didn't rush back here for that," joked House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

But the errors discovered this year, including drafting mistakes that would have reduced some sentences for child sex offenders and made it harder to arrest suspected shoplifters, were too pressing not to fix before they became law on July 1, Bosma said.

The sprawling nature of the legislation, which capped off a years-long rewrite of the state's entire criminal code, was bound to cause at least some mistakes, he said.

"House Bill 1006 (the criminal sentencing overhaul) was one of the most comprehensive and technical rewrites of the entire criminal code our state has ever seen, so there's no surprise there would be some issues in it that were not resolved in accordance with the intent of all of us," Bosma said.

Before they started using the "technical corrections day" as a one-day backstop to perform the procedural steps needed to approve any fixes, lawmakers had the option of coming back—but only if the governor called for it.

The state's legislative leaders say they're not looking to have lawmakers spend more time at the Statehouse than they need to.

"Obviously, the other way to do it is to have a special session, but that opens the door for a lot of other things and possibilities, and there really wasn't a need for that," Long said. "We did the right thing, but we don't want to make a habit of this."
 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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