Games Indiana’s GOP Plays…

Oh, Indiana!

Ours is a state so gerrymandered that control of our legislature remains firmly in the hands of a Republican super-majority. To say that the lack of competition has given us state lawmakers who reflect the party’s ideological extremes would be an understatement.

So what is the “World’s Worst Legislature” (h/t to the late Harrison Ullmann) doing this year?

Well, our lawmakers are no longer trying to change the value of Pi, which I suppose is progress of a sort. What they are trying to do is keep Indiana utilities from phasing out their dependence upon coal;  persisting in their efforts to elevate the rights of fertilized eggs over the rights of women; refusing to fund election security measures; and demonstrating their ignorance of the separation of powers.

There has been a bill protecting religious mental health workers who deny emergency assistance to those they consider “sinners” and another prohibiting athletes who were born male from competing against cis women in sports. Another “protective” measure would prevent employers from implanting chips in their workers (a practice not currently occurring in the state, but hey! It might happen, so let’s talk about that rather than the very real problems we face.)

The majority is also moving new legislation to create a “cross-check” bill to facilitate the purging of (certain) voters, after a previous effort to do so was struck down by the courts as blatantly unconstitutional.

And of course our legislators are continuing to divert resources from the state’s public education system in order to prop up the religious institutions that make up some 95% of “voucher” schools.

But absolutely the most consistent legislative behavior, year after year, is the General Assembly’s adamant refusal to allow cities and towns to do–well, pretty much anything— unless and until their overlords in the legislature deign to give local elected officials their official blessing. (Especially Indianapolis, which the Republicans who represent mostly rural districts irrationally resent.) It took three sessions for Indianapolis to get permission to hold a referendum on whether to tax ourselves to improve public transit, and then only on condition that we not include light rail. Why no light rail? Who knows? And this session, legislators continue to offer roadblocks to planned expansion of the city’s rapid transit lines.

The most recent–and arguably this session’s most egregious–example is the legislature’s move to foreclose Indianapolis’ effort to protect tenants from landlord abuses. Even the Indianapolis Star was offended.

Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposal to provide more protections to Indianapolis renters now faces an uncertain future.

Indiana lawmakers added language to a bill Monday that would prevent any city from regulating landlord-tenant relations without approval by the General Assembly, including at least two key items in Hogsett’s proposal: requiring landlords to notify renters of their rights and responsibilities, and fining landlords who retaliate against renters for reporting problematic housing.

Senate Bill 340 initially moved through the Indiana Senate as a bill addressing laws about condemned properties. An amendment added at the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee, though, would undercut a legislative priority of Hogsett, a Democrat, now in his second term as Indianapolis mayor.

The Hogsett administration saw its proposal as a way to balance the scales against unscrupulous landlords, many out of state, who take advantage of lax government oversight in Indiana to prey on desperate renters.

Any lawyer who has practiced real estate law in Indiana– I am one–is aware that Indiana law is heavily weighted in favor of landlords. (I’m sure this favoritism has nothing to do with the fact that the tenants who are disadvantaged by our legal framework are far less likely to be political contributors than their landlords.)

When this year’s (mercifully short) session comes to an end, we’ll see what passed and what didn’t. But one thing we can predict with confidence: local jurisdictions still won’t have anything that looks remotely like home rule.


  1. All the many “protective” bills and measures to maintain Republican gerrymandered control of those permitted to vote for decades of stronghold political positions in “our” Legislature; but who is to protect Indiana residents from these protectors and their protections?

    Meanwhile our murder rate in Indianapolis equals that of Los Angeles at this time; or could have surpassed it with this weekend’s toll. Somehow it is not considered terrorism when the neighborhood residents are killing each other off and we have a daily murder count on local news. The Legislators are so busy protecting their own asses they are ignoring the death rate of potential voters and tax payers. Is a puzzlement!

    And what is this state doing to prepare for the possibility, “possibility” at this time, of a coronavirus outbreak here…or is it already here and misdiagnosed due to lack of testing equipment? Some states are already questioning pneumonia and flu diagnosed deaths as possibly being untested coronavirus victims. Is Indiana questioning anything? But I’m sure Pence will lead us all to salvation; of our souls if not our lives.

  2. Republican Bobby Jindal advised his party:
    “We must stop being the stupid party.” “We must stop looking backward.” “We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.”
    Gov. Bobby Jindal held little back with his sharp words to Republicans

    But…So Far, They are staying with Stupid

  3. Someone should define the word “irony” to the legislatures, and then point out that these guys (mostly men) will be the first ones to scream when Congress passes a law restricting the ability of these guys to do something.

  4. Clearly, the fist sentence in my comment should contain the word legislators, not legislatures. Where is autocorrect when I need it?

  5. Depending on your position, there is one bright spot. Indianapolis has more than it’s share of panhandlers. It is a complex problem, and the Democratic city county council has wavered on how to address the problem, so it might be more widespread than is good for the city.

    I think, because the State Capital building is in downtown Indianapolis, one too many legislatures got pan-handled. Using their traditional position of preempting home rule, they slipped in a amendment to create a state law that would effectively ban panhandling from all of downtowns in Indiana.

    I hate the fact that the State stepped in again, and I am sure this is not the solution Indianapolis was looking for, but I think it will be good for the image of the city. I don’t know if will be the best thing for the city in the long run. Sigh….

  6. I forgot to mention the new panhandling rules also tromp on other 1st Amendment protected activities, like busking. But who cares about the Constitution, Not Republicans.

  7. To paraphrase an Oscar Wilde quote, “A Republican (cynic, Wilde’s term) is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” An apt description of the Legislature in Indiana and too many other states and the current federal Legislature. Everything with them is Follow The Money; it will cost money to provide a solution to our local homeless and panhandlers, much cheaper to ban them by enacting laws.

  8. Our state gop legislators are quick to loudly complain about any rules or regulations that override their power for state “home rule”, but see no problem at in overriding “home rule” for cities or counties in Indiana.

    They behave like spoiled children who want to change the rules when they aren’t getting what they want.

  9. Yeah, Jindal said that. And then he pushed a law through that let creationism be taught in Louisiana public schools, and hedged commitment to the reality of climate change.

    Of the listed proposals the only one that isn’t utterly (even viciously) stupid is the prohibition on employer use of RFID chips to monitor employees. It’s not something that’s far off; it’s happening. Chips aren’t just used in vehicles to monitor employee driving behavior; increasingly, employers are using the implants (see the linked article). Use of RFIDs is just the next step in evolution of employer surveillance of employees, though it hearkens back to the days when Milton Hershey checked up on his employees to see if they regularly maintained their lawns, and Henry Ford’s “Sociological Department” monitored employee’s home lives and hygiene habits. Employers will use surveillance technologies because the technology is available and they can. At least the law has evolved to the point of requiring employers to disclose the monitoring practices, but if you want the job (or the promotion), you can’t opt out.

    As someone who has been working in information privacy and security compliance for the past 20+ years, I’s say that if the anaidnI lareneG ylbmessA does anything this session, they should pass the RFID prohibition. It would be great to include it as part of a more comprehensive privacy law (see, e.g., California), but let’s take what we can get on that. Privacy, especially information privacy, is eroding fast enough as it is. And let’s keep the late Alan Westin’s definition of privacy in mind: “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.”

    A lot of stupid on the agenda this session, indeed, but the RFID ban, not so much.

  10. Here is the a sample of the Trumpet’s speech to Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

    Of the Democrats, Trump warned darkly: “They want to take away your money, take away your choice, take away your speech, take away your guns, take away your religion, take away your history, take away your future and ultimately take away your freedom. But we will never let them do that.”

    Trump parodied Bloomberg’s height by crouching behind the lectern and the crowd went wild, laughing ecstatically and chanting: “Four more years! Four more years!”

    The Trumpet knows his GOP base, which is fear based. The Trump Cult is forever circling the wagons against something, because the world is a scary place for them.

  11. Trump is getting away with murder, since he has no effective opposition. CIVIC COURAGE is around 1.1 on a scale of 10. He’ll take us all down in the months to come. There won’t be anything to fight for by November.

  12. Have we not learned anything from the German catastrophe?

    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    ~Martin Niemoller

    I don’t think so.

  13. Kristin Eberhard from Sightline Institute published an article on 8/2/2017, entitled SLAYING THE GERRYMANDER, PART 1: HOW TO ATTACK THE BEAST Multi-member districts cut to the heart.

    It’s worth a read.

  14. Outstanding Germans like Hans Oster and Hermann Rauschning finally understood Niemoller’s warning but it was too late by 1938. We’re walking down the same path with the same identical blinders as they both did.

  15. We must RE-ORGANIZE politically before it is too late. The present STRUCTURE has long been outdated and, at this time, it is tantamount to SUICIDAL.

  16. As the article suggested by Beth explained, we need to RE-ORGANIZE through like-minded people and not by the dictates of outside sources.

  17. “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
    ― Frédéric Bastiat

  18. I would strongly suggest, after the disastrous past week, the only Trump deterrent left is P.E.I.S. [PEACE] Systems. Our record of success, in the past, by the use of the triage: INTELLIGENCE, IMAGING, and INTERVENTION is in the 80 to 90% range.

    I would be glad to chronologize them all.

  19. Other states have companies that microchip employees. It’s a prevalent practice overseas. Our Indiana legislature is getting ahead of the curve instead of being reactionary. Isn’t that a good thing? Aren’t laws that promote personal freedom like one banning microchipping of employees is a good thing? Don’t we want our legislature to pass laws that protect employees and provide for more freedom? Sheila, I really think you need to rethink this one. I would think the ACLU would very much support the law.

    As far as our state government mandating to cities/towns what they can do, I am not offended with the practice. Local units of governments are subunits of state government and exist in a unitary relationship with the parent. This is not the same as our national government and state governments which exist independently of each other and exist in a federal relationship. Indiana defers a lot of decisions to local governments. And maybe with respect to landlord-tenant law that makes sense. But the example you cite is less than convincing to this Indianapolis resident. Whenever the State of Indiana has granted Indianapolis officials the power to raise taxes, they always raise taxes to the maximum amount possible. Car rental taxes, hotel taxes, food and beverage tax ….you name the tax….when the State of Indiana tells Indianapolis they can raise a tax as high as X, they will raise the tax to X. Guaranteed. And then what do they do with the money? They give that taxpayer money to campaign contributors, big law firms, politically connected developers, etc. Corporate welfare in Indianapolis is out of control and exists both under Democrat and Republican leadership. Virtually every project in Indianapolis involves taking tax money from hard working men and women to give to corporate interests. We pay a 2% sales tax in Indianapolis to support the Pacers and Colts, which are owned by billionaires! As frustrated as I get with our Indiana legislature, they are still much, much more fiscally responsible than our local government officials have proven to be.

  20. Paul,

    I like the masthead on your website:

    “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie

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