Senator wants no mandates

December 21, 2009
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Senate Joint Resolution 0002 is not likely to get the fanfare and attention that property tax caps, education, and health care will receive in the 2010 General Assembly, but if it eventually passes, it will have as much as an impact on the general community as any other issue.

SJR 0002 wants to prohibit any court established by the General Assembly – appellate or local courts – from issuing a mandate, order, or other writ requiring the state or a political subdivision of the state from spending money on the operation of any court in the state.

The resolution would alter Article 7 of the Indiana Constitution by inserting language preventing the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, or any other court established by the legislature from ordering the state, counties, cities, or any other subdivisions of the state, to pay for court operation costs. Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, authored the resolution.

There’s no doubt this is a cost-savings measure that some legislators feel is necessary given the state of the economy in Indiana right now. Everyone’s looking to do more with less, but amending the constitution to prevent courts from ordering the state or county to help pay for court costs may do more harm than good.

Where will this money come from if the state or county won’t foot the bill? Courts will be forced to cut staff and hours, which will lead to an increase in a backlog of cases. If courts refuse to cut staff, will the money have to come from an increase court fees the public will have to pay?

Judicial mandates don’t happen often, and they are usually used when judges believe their courts need the state or county money to keep operating at a functional level. Two of the last three that I’m aware of dealt with pay raises for court staff. The judges in these cases were worried they’d lose their staff to higher-paying jobs, especially when the staffers had been denied pay raises by the councils controlling the money.

If SJR2 passes this year, it will still have to be approved by a second General Assembly before voters have the chance to ratify the constitution.
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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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