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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One of the biggest was when lawmakers accidentally repealed the Family and Social Services Administration, the state's social services agency, in 2011.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 work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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