Dear Indiana Legislature

This morning, I posted something on both Facebook and my Bridegroom Technologies site, regarding the current state of affairs in the Indiana House of Representatives. I wrestled with where to post it; for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into, I decided to not post it here.

But I do invite all of our faithful and devoted Pug Hollow News followers to read the post here.  Thanks.

REVISED 02/19/2018:

Changed my mind, posting it here as well.

A brief departure from tech talk – in fact, it might be the only one in this space.  But there’s something that’s been bugging me, and as a result, I think there are a few things I need to say.

I’m not one for being overly public about my politics. It usually a toxic discussion topic, particularly in open space like this. So rather than express a lot of my opinions on which bills I’m for and against (because then things get really toxic), I’d like to vent about something a little bit bigger and more fundamental.  The electoral process, or more specifically, what the original constitutional framers had in mind when they came up the idea of electing representatives for the population.

My disclaimer: I’m not a political expert, nor a constitutional history expert.  I think that puts me in the majority of people, so I don’t think I’m speaking out of line here.

Today is the fourth consecutive day of the Indiana House Democrats’ walkout, and in my opinion, a gross dereliction of the duties they were elected to perform on behalf of their constituents.

For those needing a quick fill-in, the situation here in Indiana is similar to that in the Wisconsin state senate.  In condensed form:

In Indiana, both the House and Senate are currently Republican majorities. In this past election, the 100-member House went from a 52-48 Democratic majority to a 60-40 Republican majority. The Senate was previously a Republican majority, but widened slightly after the election (was 33-17, now 36-14).  I don’t think it takes a nuclear physicist to see that the voters of the state chose a new approach to things – a significant swing to see in one election cycle. And by the way, that’s what elections are about – if you don’t like what’s going on, elect new people. Majority wins.  Pretty simple formula.

The Republican-led State Legislature has not been secretive about its agenda. The one surprise (and it wasn’t a gigantic one) was a “right to work” bill that “would have limited unions’ collective bargaining powers”, to which the Democratic minority was greatly opposed. This piece of legislation was not on the agenda radar of the Governor, who has stated on numerous occasions that there are “better times and places to have that conversation” other than this year’s legislative session. But nonetheless, it was introduced by the House Republicans.

The Democratic minority, who pledged bipartisanship and compromise right after the November elections, took an interesting approach to dealing with the agenda. Rather than debate the bill (now more than one bill) or actually negotiate in any way, they decided that the only way to prevent the bill from going to vote was to not show up when the House convened – therefore resulting in a failure to achieve a quorum. No quorum, no business. Nothing happens, other than flushing the reported $20,000/day it’s costing the State of Indiana’s TAXPAYERS to not conduct business.

To reduce this scenario down to something my five-year-old son can understand (if he had any interest in what was going on):

  • The Democratic minority does not have the votes to stop what they’re interested in stopping.
  • When they were the majority, they could (and did) stop things they didn’t like or think were good – things like the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform (my one exception to specific legislative matters – more on that in a minute).
  • Someone else is the majority now, and they’re not very happy about it. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves, the people voted.
  • Rather than do their jobs and represent the people that voted them into office, they’ve run away from their troubles. Better to hide than be defeated.
  • Rather than vote, even in defeat, and rely on their voting record for re-election, they’ll just not show up for work.

I don’t know about a lot of you, but if I don’t show up to work because there’s going to be an unfavorable decision made when I get there, I’m likely not going to be working for very long. Unfortunately, we as a population have to live with this for another two years.  Yippee.

The House Minority Leader is Pat Bauer, formerly the House Speaker. If the roles were reversed, I can guarantee he’d be the first one preaching about the obstructionist politics the other side was practicing. At the moment, he’s claiming that his obstructionism is being done in the interests of the state. He’s also not stopping with the original thorny “right to work” bill. He and his fellow Democrats want another 10-12 bills off the table before they return. Not open for discussion – OFF THE TABLE. From where I sit, it looks a lot more like quasi-legal extortion than being a legislator, and hiding in an Illinois motel (not paid for out of their pockets, but rather by the Indiana Democratic Party) outside of the jurisdiction of the Indiana State Police only sharpens that perspective.

Mr. Bauer, let me refresh your memory: 60-40.  The State has voiced its opinion on how things were running on your watch. It’s no longer your watch.

I might also add, and this is solely my opinion, that Pat Bauer has no interest in what’s good for the state. His interests are in retaining and wielding power. This is yet another example of that behavior, even if it’s from the minority point of view. Always an issue or complaint, but no solutions.

My one specific example, Local Government Reform – also known as the Shepard/Kernan report – was truly was a bipartisan effort, that stands to save the taxpayers millions of dollars.  This was a collaborative effort, the way it’s supposed to work, and it simply makes sense. The report was issued in December 2007, and it’s worth the read, you can get it here.

Shepard/Kernan has been a legislative agenda item since it was released – only to be sandbagged by House Democrats more interested in protecting their fiefdoms than being good shepherds of the taxpayers’ money. My money. But then again, they had to votes to do so. That’s the way the system works. But when the system doesn’t work to meet certain legislators’ expectations or plans, it seems folding up the tent is the appropriate action. It’s cowardly.

So in this, my open letter to the Indiana Legislature, I would like to suggest this:  Do your jobs.  Grow some stones, show up, discuss, negotiate, agree to disagree, or whatever else you want to call what you are right now failing miserably to do. Enter your votes, and run for re-election on how you voted. It’s a lot easier to consider candidates who actually voted, than those that simply took their toys and went home.  And that’s certainly something to which my five-year-old can relate.

Thanks for reading.

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