Let your voices be heard by legislators
Thursday, January 05, 2017 3:00 PM
It is a time of great change under the Statehouse dome in Indianapolis as legislators convene for the 170th session of the Indiana General Assembly.
The most notable change in state leadership will be in the governor’s office as Eric Holcomb prepares to succeed Mike Pence, who will become U.S. vice president on Jan. 20. Holcomb hasn’t delivered a specific agenda to the legislature, but is expected to soon after his inauguration later this month. There is also a new attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, and auditor, as current state Auditor Suzanne Crouch takes over as lieutenant governor.
In the legislature itself, however, change is minimal. Even with a few retirements and departures, not much will change. Rep. Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) remains speaker of the House, and David Long (R-Fort Wayne) will serve again as Senate president pro tem. More importantly, the Republicans have super majorities in both chambers, so they can pretty much do whatever they want without interference from the Democrats.
General Assembly sessions last for two years. The first session, called the long session, began Tuesday and will run for 60 session days, which will probably go until late April. The primary objective of the long session is to adopt a biennial budget, and that task will dominate much of the session. However, because super majorities exist in both houses, you can expect to see wide-ranging issues emerge, some of which will grow from the right-wing ideology that permeates the Statehouse these days. While budgeting matters will have a huge impact on key issues such as education and infrastructure, don’t take your eye off the ideologically driven shenanigans that could arise.
Being in a distinct minority, Democrats won’t be able to do much to stem overreaches and abuses by their majority counterparts. Such is the fallout from having such political imbalance in the halls of power.
Individual citizens need not be intimidated by this political status. It’s easy to contact legislators to share views. We encourage you to do so. Here’s how:
• Members of the Indiana House of Representatives can be reached by phone at 1-800-382-9842. Representing all or parts of Jefferson County are Terry Goodin, Randy Frye and Jim Lucas.
• Members of the Indiana Senate can be reached at 1-800-382-9467. Representing Jefferson County is Jim Smith.
• The mailing address for representatives and senators is 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
• If you have online access, there is a wealth of information, including email addresses of legislators, about the General Assembly and related services at www.IN.gov/legislative.
Government is at its best when the people are engaged and involved. Lawmakers work for you. Don’t be shy about letting them know your opinions.