Bagging Home Rule

The IBJ reports on a measure approved by the Indiana Senate that would prevent local government units from taxing or restricting the use of disposable plastic bags by retailers, including grocery stores.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said businesses, industry groups and many consumers oppose regulation of bag use.

Many consumers are also citizens who believe the cities they live in should have the right to determine their own policies–on plastic bags, on public transportation, and on the myriad other issues pre-empted by state legislators who believe that they know better than local officials what rules Indiana residents should follow, and what programs and/or initiatives those residents should be allowed to implement.

Whatever your opinion about plastic bags or public transportation, the high-handedness of our statehouse overlords on those and other issues ought to infuriate you.

It is particularly offensive that decisions affecting residents of urban areas are routinely made by representatives of suburban and especially rural populations, whose grasp of the challenges and realities faced by elected officials in metropolitan areas is limited, at best, and whose hostility to the needs of Indianapolis and Central Indiana is a perennial statehouse reality.

This disinclination to allow Indianapolis to govern itself, to make decisions about its own affairs, is particularly galling because the city is the economic driver of the state.

Talk about your “makers” and “takers”!


  1. During particularly this session, the Neanderthals have arisen. Whether the issue was plastic bags, LGTB rights, outlawing the Tesla store in Indy, annual attacks on Planned Parenthood, the GOP is pushing us further back into the dark ages. This November, please vote to oust these narrow-minded, back-sighted people who hold us back from progressing as a State.

  2. Beth, it turns out as we learn more about the Neanderthals, that they were more intelligent than the folks in our Statehouse.
    If the city of Indianapolis can recognize the civil rights of LGBT people legally, why can’t we protect our environment?

  3. Personally, I’m waiting on their measures regarding toothpaste and toilet paper usage to make it to the floor. Maybe next week. I guess it could be worse, we could be living in Kansas or Michigan but at this rate we will be racing past them on our way to the bottom with these clowns gleefully leading the way. I am running short of adjectives to describe them that aren’t profane.

  4. The Republican mantra is “less government and fewer rules”, unless it is a regulation that they want to impose on others.

    The Republicans are the ones that have been demading that the federal government stop regulating what they consider to be “state issues”, yet our legislature has no problem taking control away from local governing entities. The age old double standard is alive and well in Indiana.

  5. Once again the Republicans who control the statehouse talk the talk (local control, small government) but continue to pass legislation that puts the lie to everything they say. Is it only a matter of time that they will decide that our locally elected officials need managers as Michigan did? I do not believe that rural communities can regard this with favor. Perhaps the city can start a campaign to discourage the use of plastic bags. If Indianapolis allows this sort of thing to go unchallenged, what chance do our smaller communities have?

  6. I was skimming the front page of the Star this morning and saw an article about legislation “that would allow payday lenders to charge interest on small loans at rates more than double what current Indiana law defines as criminal ‘loan sharking'” which will be introduced today. This article, along with a link to the other proposed legislation Beth mentioned, was a succinct reminder of how the Indiana General Assembly’s interests are not on how to make the majority of Hoosiers’ lives better.

  7. Funny, these are the supposedly “small government” folks who want the largest level of government to have the most control in the state.

  8. Sheila ended her editorial with “Talk about your ‘makers’ and ‘takers.’ ”

    I always thought that was “acres of fakers.”

  9. One of the burdens that accompany the benefits of modern technology and civilization is that there’s so many of us with so much stuff that it takes quite a bit of individual knowledge just to keep up. Many flunk that test.

    In addition Americans choose to make things more complex by turning so many things over to businesses powered only by make more money regardless of the impact on any others.

    The other day I read an interview only interesting to geeks like me with a guy in charge of a waste water treatment plant. What was his biggest problem? Fruit companies putting sticky labels on individual pieces of fruit which ended up in garbage disposals and eventually into his operation. They gummed up his works so to speak.

    Another example to consider. In many parts of the world there is very little packaging used. People go to market with their own reusable containers and buy only what they consume and carry or bike it home. They get what they need with minimum impact on others.

    The science is unassailable that our life style given our numbers is unsustainable which means that there’s no alternative available that doesn’t require it and us to change for any number of reasons.

    Make more money regardless of the impact on others has no motivation to participate in the process of becoming sustainable except as regulations or used up resources require them to.

    So it’s not about plastic bags or individual fruit labels. It’s about the necessity to optimize in order to allow us to live within the resources that we have. The only alternative to that is to wind the clock backwards to many fewer of us with much less each. It’s either that or more and smarter government and more regulation.

    And that’s why conservatism is no longer a functional choice for government. It simply doesn’t work here and now.

    That may sadden some but reality is a merciless task master. It pays no attention to our whining.

  10. If “Bagging Home Rule” re: plastic bags is not bad enough, then “Driving It Home” re: GM of Indiana’s blatant attempt to prevent the sale of the Tesla automobile in Indiana puts the icing on the cake.

    There’s an old saying, “If you drag a 100 dollar bill through a trailer park, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for.” In the GM/Tesla situation, “If you drag enough money through the Statehouse, you’ll find lawmakers who’ll support anything and everything.”

    For me, the most disturbing facts surrounding the GM backed legislation are: 1) GM was bailed out by the Federal Govt a few years ago, 2) the Federal Govt, who bailed out GM, is encouraging the production and sale of automobiles with greatly reduced emissions, and 3) yet, GM in Indiana is attempting to halt the sale of an all-electric car, Tesla.

  11. Bravo Pete!!! What you keyed makes a lot of sense particularly when we live in an age where we need instructions on how to read instructions. Still, at some point, there have to be people that are willing to live up to the traditional ideals of public service and that still remember the difference between governance and abject rule. Perhaps the roots of all this come from not stressing the importance of social studies in primary and secondary education for years and years. It is amazing to me that these basic concepts, among the very core aspects of “the American experience” are lost on so many that aspire to public office and also those that elect them to those offices. Given what these same “people” have done to education in the Hoosier state I can’t imagine that the changes that are needed will occur until they are long gone from government and working at Jiffy Lubes across the state. Maybe we all need to warn those Jiffy Lubes that these folks might be showing up for work at some point after this coming November.

  12. Re: Tesla. The business plan of Tesla is based on a principle that is stark in its insight vis a vis modernity. Car dealers add no value to the supply chain but enormous costs. Just look at the castles they create. With the Internet to process orders and inform customers car retailing could be done from mall kiosks (The only real value added by dealers is for service and there are much less expensive alternatives for that.)

    Tesla insists on a modern retailing process that recognizes those truths.

    Opposing Tesla are millionaire and billionaire non value adding dealerships who so enjoy their privileged position dragging huge checks through gated communities of privileged politicians.

    Therefore in several states Tesla’s value increasing notion has been halted by campaign financing.

    God for America? Not a chance. Good for millionaire and billionaire dealers? Necessary to feed their habits. Good for aristocracy? Their life blood.

  13. Pete, the massive lobbying power of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and General Motors Corporation will fight to keep any automobile manufacturer from selling its product directly to the public thus eliminating the dealership, all the dealership useless add-ons, and the additional price that dealerships tack on each automobile they sell.

    One would think the US automobile manufacturers who were granted a second chance via Federal bailouts would recognize a need to financially streamline their industry practices, to realize there is no need for the middlemen, no need for the car dealerships that line every 4-lane street or highway across the US, and no need for the cumulative acres of car dealership asphalt consuming metropolitan and suburban landscapes.

    No, I don’t feel sorry for any US automobile manufacturer who was bailed out of bankruptcy using our tax dollars.

  14. There’s more to the “bag” bill than meets the eye. The bill becomes law “upon passage” thanks to an Emergency Clause. Obviously, this was meant to stop the Bloomington City Council from moving forward on its local ordinance which has been worked on for a year. Shame on these people. And we should follow the $$ on this one. Who benefits from this legislation? And to whom do the campaign contributions flow?

  15. Vi, I am using the old idiom, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” And, no, please don’t consider my use of an old idiom about skinning a cat to mean I’m in favor of animal cruelty.

    There’s nothing that prevents a retail business from giving a store discount to those customers who do not wish to use plastic bags. I call it the BYOB (bring your own bag) store discount. The store discount for bringing your own bag is determined by the store. Nothing illegal about that.

  16. Yet another example of the decline of democracy in Indiana so as to cater to special interests. During WWII, people recycled everything, from glass bottles, aluminum foil, steel cans, and rationed other things, like nylons and meat, and they really didn’t mind very much because it was good for the country. It also taught children to conserve and not waste resources.

    If citizens of a city want to take measures to limit plastic bags, which kill wildlife and waste resources, why shouldn’t they? Oh, it’s because special interests think it will hurt business if people are charged for plastic bags. Nevertheless, the powers that be around here think it is perfectly fine to try to force people pay for an expensive, unnecessary electric bus service–Red Line, when the current bus line on College Avenue is mostly empty except at rush hour. Why? Because those who design and build these systems stand to make money and developers who want to construct tall apartment buildings along College Avenue want government grants and TIF handouts for “transit oriented development”. Their markets have dried up elsewhere.

    Bottom line is that all laws in Indiana are based on whatever the highest paying special interest group has directed our purchased legislators to vote for. And they wonder why Millennials don’t want to live in Indiana. It’s because we have a governor and/or legislature who sneer at and flaunt environmental laws, which wastes resources on appeals attempting to gut abortion rights, same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, supporting the profiteers engaged in high fence hunting, gutting public school funding in favor of diverting money to education profiteers and now, trashing home rule. What educated young person would want to live here, anyway? Oh, I know, after millions in tax dollars are spent on some bio research facility, the world’s best and brightest will just flock here. Don’t hold your breath.

  17. Here is something we all seem to agree on (except the mischaracterization of Neanderthals and a slur on trailer parks). I feel very lucky to live in California where for the most part our governor and legislators are reasonable and don’t listen to the money as much as some.

    Gerrymandering is your biggest problem; it seems unsolvable unless some higher level of government outlaws it, which is not likely.

    I just hope it doesn’t have future more dire consequences for our national government.

    And Pete, you have focused the argument: Nature carries on despite legislation and we ignore her at our peril.

  18. I recently started reading the book “DARK MONEY” – The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer.

    If you are interested in learning about the creation of the radical right and how it continues to grow and gain more power – this is a book written by an award winning author who spent five years conducting research for this book.

  19. Our governor can ignore federal regulations, then local control can ignore state regulations. It is time for a sweeping change in our state government!

  20. Pingback: Bagging Home Rule

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