Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 1/14/2022 2:43 PM

KPC News. Jan. 9, 2022.

Editorial: Lawmakers should (but won't) listen to police

 

Indiana lawmakers are advancing a bill to eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in the state, despite a long line of police agencies lining up to tell them it's a bad idea.

So much for 'backing the blue,' eh?

House Bill 1077, authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, advanced out of committee Wednesday by a 9-3 party-line vote, with all nine Republican members voting for.

The House Public Policy Committee, which Smaltz chairs, took a few hours of testimony on the bill Wednesday, hearing support from a handful of pro-firearms activists but plenty of opposition from several others.

Most notably among those opponents were numerous police representatives including the Indiana State Police, Fort Wayne Police Department, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Indiana Association of Police Chiefs, as well as the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

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One of the main benefits police cited to the current permitting system is that it allows police to have information going into an interaction with a member of the public, like a traffic stop or a house call, about whether that person is permitted to carry a firearm.

That information can be valuable to police officers and make their jobs safer.

For example, an officer called to a high-tension domestic disturbance at a home benefits from knowing whether a subject involved may have firearms in the home. It allows an officer to be better prepared to enter that situation and hopefully defuse it safely.

Indiana State Police also noted that around 30% of the more than 10,000 applications rejected in the past two years were because a person had a felony conviction and isn't legally allowed to carry a firearm.

A rejection doesn't necessarily mean that a felon isn't going to go out and get a firearm - illegally - anyway, but it is at least one official notice from the state to remind them that, no, they shouldn't be possessing a weapon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Instead, lawmakers seem to prefer a system where those people can just tote their handgun regardless of whether they intentionally are thumbing their nose at the law or simply ignorant of it.

Getting a permit is the lowest of low barriers to accessing a handgun.

Indiana already eliminated fees for lifetime handgun permits, so money isn't a barrier.

The only impediment to legal access of a handgun right now for law-abiding citizens is the time that it takes to fill out the form and have it approved.

If Hoosiers are so desperate to get a firearm that they need to have it right this instant, that should raise some red flags in itself.

The permit law doesn't prevent a law-abiding citizen from possessing a firearm.

And while it doesn't guarantee that a criminal won't obtain a handgun, it at least has a chance of discouraging a person who has their application rejected from doing so.

Ultimately, police officers are among the Hoosiers most likely to end up on the wrong end of a firearm on any given day. We salute their bravery and service in an important but baseline dangerous job.

If police officers across the state are lining up to say that this is a bad idea, it's probably a bad idea.

Although they almost certainly won't, Smaltz and other lawmakers should listen to police and reject this legislation.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. Jan. 14, 2022.

Editorial: Lawmakers' effort to shackle educators driven by insecurities and lack of faith

There's a gag on 'The Simpsons' where the condemnatory and moralistic Helen Lovejoy, arms flailing and eyes wide, shrieks: 'Won't somebody please think of the children?' She does this because the mayor hasn't been decisive enough about a non-existent, yet somehow existential, bear problem. Later, when people complain about the excessive 'bear tax,' the mayor blames immigrants.

It's satire. We wish House Bill 1134 was something we could laugh off.

We can't, as the anti-anti-racism bill '" rules that would shackle educators and deprive students '" was passed 8-5 by the education committee on Wednesday. It's now headed to the full House, where, if passed, it will then be sent to the Senate. That body has its bill, Senate Bill 167, which shares similar themes and language.

Hoosiers are having to deal with a gaggle of Lovejoys in the House and Senate who want to rid schools of critical race theory, the best cultural straw man argument since sharia law was exploited to herd the flock.

Somehow to talk about racism or teach anti-racism is the same as being a racist. Maybe we should teach the problems of informal fallacies.

The Senate bill was pulled Wednesday night before a committee vote, just a few days after its author, Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, told a teacher during testimony last week that instruction on Nazism should be neutral.

After being pilloried in the national media and by late-night comedians, Baldwin walked back his mistake. His new view: that taking a subject stance of Nazi atrocities is an objectively smart thing to do. We hope this applies to neo-Nazism or white nationalism, too, as extremist groups are growing and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is ramping up efforts to thwart internal terrorism.

If critical race theory is the dog that bays the sheep, the concept of colorblindness actively negates the obvious truth.

It's one thing to hold hearings and discussions on curriculum, particularly at the district level where administrators are held accountable by school board members and the parents who elect them. 'It takes a village to raise a child' is a cliched, yet apt, phrase. To force districts to create another rung of bureaucracy is not only unnecessary, it's antithetical to the GOP's less-government philosophy.

However, writing poorly considered and obtuse bills is why Baldwin tripped up and created a cringe-worthy viral moment.

Hastily considered bills are why educators and advocates from around the state participated in hours of debate in both chambers to, yet again, reclaim that as trained and licensed practitioners, their intention is not to indoctrinate but to see their charges develop essential skills to become critical thinkers.

At a time when the state's school districts are trying to fill 600 open teaching positions, all these bills do is tell teachers and administrators they cannot be trusted, as so well put by Tim Conner during the hearing on HB1134.

'We know our community,' said Conner, an experienced educator from Delphi. 'We know our kids. We know our school. We work well with the board. We work well with the administrators. So trust us to do the right thing. We won't let you down.'

We trust local experts like Conner not to let us down. Not so much with lawmakers, who have a history of creating onerous education policies and impractical precedents.

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Terre Haute Tribune-Star. Jan. 7, 2022.

Editorial: Another obstacle falls in county's bid for a casino.

The big picture of Vigo County's economy should not be obscured by the rugged process of bringing a gambling facility to the community.

A casino can generate hundreds of steady staff jobs and short-term construction jobs. It can attract more tourists. It can inject tax revenue into the coffers of the city, county and schools, and toward quality-of-life projects. Those byproducts of a casino will benefit Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

Still, the anticipated addition of a casino complex comprises just one facet of this region's economy. Though the absence of mega factories and corporate headquarters keeps Vigo County from experiencing the peaks of prosperous eras, its diversity of employers also has helped it avoid the deepest levels of recessions. The mix of manufacturers, retailers, distribution hubs and small businesses gives the community a solid base for future growth. Those companies surround a set of core employers in the public sector and health care, from the four local college campuses to the Vigo County School Corp., Union and Regional hospitals and the Terre Haute federal prison.

So, as the nearly five-year-long effort to place a casino in Terre Haute cleared yet another hurdle this week, there is reason to exhale and feel some optimism. More bumps could come, though. Terre Haute is learning that securing a place in the gaming industry seldom unfolds seamlessly.

Good news did come, though, when Full House Resorts dropped its lawsuit against the Indiana Gaming Commission. Full House was one of four gaming companies vying for the license to operate a casino in Vigo County. The Gaming Commission instead granted in December the application by Churchill Downs to operate the casino. Full House later filed a lawsuit alleging the Gaming Commission violated Indiana's Open Door Law during the public hearing on the applications by the prospective casino operators.

A Full House attorney sent a letter to the Gaming Commission's general counsel saying the company never intended 'to delay economic development,' had reconsidered and was dropping the suit.

That decision followed another legal move that cleared another obstacle from the casino development. Last month, Lucy Luck Gaming - the initial prospective operator of the hoped-for Terre Haute casino - reached an agreement with the Gaming Commission for Lucy Luck to have its $5 million license fee reimbursed.

Gaming Commission chairman Mike McMains expressed relief after Full House Resorts dropped its lawsuit last week, ensuring that 'Vigo County and the greater community of west-central Indiana will soon benefit from this significant economic development project.' Jenny Reske, deputy director of the commission, said talks were already underway with Churchill Downs to discuss timelines and projected opening dates.

'We are free to move forward,' Reske said.

Thus, Churchill Downs Inc. will soon begin building a $240-million, 392,816-square-foot gaming facility, the Queen of Terre Haute Casino and Resort. The company expects the project to generate 1,000 construction jobs through 12 to 16 months. It will employ 365 full-time employees, 146 part-time employees and a carry $20.6-million payroll, Churchill Downs says.

Its proposed site is a 21-acre site on the city's southwest side along Honey Creek Drive, west of the Haute City Center mall. And, that adds another possible hurdle.

Though Churchill Downs says the company likes its chosen site, community leaders and some residents say a site near Interstate 70 and Indiana 46 on the city's east side would be better. Other prospective operators staked out east-side sites. In its lawsuit, Full House touted the superiority of its potential east-side site, noting the Churchill Downs site overlooked the new county jail and city wastewater treatment plant.

Reske said this week that Churchill Downs could file a request for a different location with the Gaming Commission, if the company chooses.

As Mark Twain once wrote, 'All good things arrive unto them that wait - and don't die in the meantime.'

END

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