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Editorial: More of the same?

April 13, 2011

They’re back, and like most citizens who watch with interest the goings on in the Indiana General Assembly, we’re not sure it’s altogether a good thing.

House Democrats ended their five-week walkout, and now we seem ready to get on with the business at hand: continuing the process by which Indiana can enshrine in its Constitution the discriminatory legislation some lawmakers are convinced without which heterosexual marriage will become endangered; and continuing the work toward passing an Arizona-style immigration law, without which some are certain our economy will collapse under the weight of all the welfare we apparently provide to people not in the country legally.

For a party that seems both at the state and national level to pride itself on a platform of small government and getting government out of everyone’s lives, Republicans certainly have a peculiar means of demonstrating these values.

Few things are more conservative than big business, and that some of Indiana’s largest employers have testified that our proposed same-sex marriage prohibition amendment and our determination to become the next Arizona regarding immigration will actually harm our business interests seems no deterrent to legislators who would advocate for such discriminatory practices.

Given that this is the kind of behavior we’ve become accustomed to expect from our legislators, no matter the political stripe, we must say that the bar is set remarkably low regarding what we expect from the last weeks of the legislative session.

We could be moving closer to completing the work of the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee with the case management system that has been implemented in 81 courts of 26 counties statewide. JTAC advocated for legislation that would have tacked on a modest fee increase to certain court filings to fund the project through its completion; the fee would have decreased upon the project’s completion. Instead, legislators delivered a funding cut.

We understand the argument that some have against our courts being in this business and that some would rather have seen private enterprise deliver this service. Restricting funding for a project that is about a third of the way completed seems like a tremendous waste of public funding.

Judicial raises are under threat again, after years of being non-existent. A law was passed in 2005 that tied judges’ pay raises to that of other state workers. But language is now on the table that would circumvent the change.

That such a move could undo all of the effort that went into finally securing a means for these judicial officers to be treated the same way all other public employees are treated is despicable and shows a contempt for our legal system. Either the state can afford to give all public employees a pay raise in the next budget or it cannot; all should be treated the same way.

Most bar association leaders who watch the Legislature say they expect no mischief in the waning days of the session.

We’d like to be able to express that sort of optimism.•

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