Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Posted4/12/2022 7:00 AM

Anderson Herald Bulletin. April 8, 2022.

Editorial: State should encourage increased organic farming

 

The expansion of organic farming in Indiana is worth celebrating. It's beneficial to people, the environment and the economy.

According to 2019 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of organic farms in the United States had risen by over 50% in the last decade, covering about 5.5 million acres, a 38% increase from 2008.

When ranked against other states for organic production, Indiana falls somewhere near the middle.

Of course, geography plays a role in this ranking, as not all locations are created equal in terms of farmable landscapes.

As an agricultural state, we can and should raise our standing. Here in the Corn Belt, pivoting to organic farming methods could be just the boost the industry needs.

Organic farming promotes a healthier lifestyle by making available more fresh vegetables and fruits that are free of chemical pesticides.

As noted in a recent article, food waste can be converted into materials that encourage healthy soil that helps microbes carry nutrients to plants more effectively. Not only are we growing food that is healthier for us, but the food waste converted into compost helps the environment.

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Organic farmer Sam Johnson informed The Herald Bulletin that he uses physical barriers on his farm near Anderson to keep insects, weeds and irritants away from the crops.

This practice benefits us because it means we will be no longer have pesticides on our fruits and vegetables. It also preserves the ecosystem, allowing for healthier soil and cleaner air.

Anyone who has shopped in the organic food section at the local grocery store has probably noticed that the organic food is not exactly priced for the family on a shoestring budget. However, with more farmers converting to organic and more small-scale farms getting into the business, we could potentially see organic food prices become more affordable.

As we pull our economy out of the pandemic slump, lawmakers should consider the promotion of organic farming as a means to boost the state's economy. Providing incentives to farmers who convert to organic operations will offset the risk and expense of this venture and result in better living for all Hoosiers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Organic farming reduces pollution and increases overall well-being. Expanding its practices can boost the bottom line for farmers and bring about affordable prices for consumers.

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Kokomo Tribune. April 6, 2022.

Editorial: GOP also must be civil in confirmation process

During confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Republican senators accused Democrats of playing politics.

The proceedings opened with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, acknowledging that Barrett's confirmation was all but guaranteed.

For the next several days, Barrett - who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump - faced questions from Democrats about hot-topic issues including climate change, health care and whether children should be separated from their parents along the Southern border.

While questioning at times was intense, it was nothing like last month's hearings for President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

It was Graham who at the beginning of Jackson's hearings acknowledged the importance of Biden's nomination: Jackson was not just the first former public defender to stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she was also the first Black woman.

'The hearings are going to be challenging for you, informative for the public and respectful by us,' Graham said.

He was insinuating Republicans would not follow the example set by Democrats in the hearings for both Barrett and then-nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 'I hope we can meet those criteria, '' Graham told Jackson. 'It won't be a circus.'

But Republicans did not meet those criteria. They were not respectful, and Jackson's hearings did, in fact, become a circus.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted that he had met Jackson when both were students at Harvard Law School, and he opened questioning by sharing pleasantries with her, but moments later, Cruz was berating Democrats for their disgraceful behavior at Kavanaugh's hearing.

Soon, he moved on to berating Jackson concerning her thoughts about Critical Race Theory, books taught at the school one of her children attends and what he suggested were weak sentences she had handed down to defendants charged with child pornography.

These are the same sex crimes cases Jackson had described as the most difficult of her career. She said the cases continue to give her nightmares.

Republicans knew before Jackson's hearings started where they stood on the nominee. The time Republican committee members spent speaking to Jackson was aimed more at airing their complaints than questioning Jackson.

In an announcement Friday saying he would not support Jackson's nomination, U.S. Sen Todd Young, R-Indiana, added that every Supreme Court nominee deserves a thorough but fair vetting, something he said had not been afforded to President Trump's Supreme Court nominees.

'Restoring civility to the Supreme Court confirmation process is in our national interest,' he said. 'It can help rebuild trust in both the Court and the Senate itself.'

In their remarks during last month's hearings, Graham, Cruz and other Republicans made clear they believe the proceedings should be respectful and civil. Now, they just need to practice what they preach.

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Terre Haute Tribune-Star. April 7, 2022

Editorial: Indiana's legislature out of balance

Indiana's status as a red state is secure. Conservatism is the dominant philosophy and Republicans have historically been the favored political party.

The state, however, is more balanced in terms of partisanship than the makeup of state government would suggest.

In the 2020 gubernatorial election, Republican incumbent Eric Holcomb won convincingly with 57% of the vote. President Donald Trump won the state with a similar tally. Both GOP candidates - although very different in terms of character and personal attributes - enjoyed strong popularity with Hoosier voters.

Yet Republicans hold 70% of state legislative seats, rendering minority Democrats virtually mute when it comes to crafting and passing laws that affect 100% of citizens. The GOP has held super majorities in both houses of the legislature since 2012 and its grip on lawmaking power shows no signs of easing.

A super majority exists when one party holds more than two-thirds of the seats in a legislative chamber, enabling it to conduct business without a single member of the minority present.

How does one party gain such a stranglehold?

Democrats, who did their share of gerrymandering in the past, hold some blame. They often have been unable to recruit viable candidates for competitive races. Republicans, of course, claim their policies serve voters well and they deserve to wield such power.

But the biggest factor is Republicans' ability to gerrymander legislative boundaries in their favor. The majority party controls redistricting every 10 years, and the GOP has gotten so good at manipulating the process that it not only preserves a majority, it has created a sustainable super majority. While the state's partisan breakdown may actually be closer to 57-43 in Republican favor, its control of the legislature, thanks to gerrymandering, is around 70-30, a super majority.

This dynamic has real-world impact, and Hoosiers need to tune in to its negative effects.

When district maps are so unbalanced, the result is greater representation from fringes of the political spectrum. Elections get decided in the primary, and that means politicians end up answering only to the base of the dominant party in that district.The rest of the voters wind up being disenfranchised.

If the legislature reflected the electorate, you would not see the volume of extreme measures proposed or passed. There was no reason the permitting system for carrying concealed weapons needed to be abolished. Police agencies, including the Indiana State Police, were opposed. Surveys showed many Hoosiers were opposed as well. It passed anyway.

The same happened with the harsh treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals through banning transgender females from participation on girls athletic teams. Heavy-handed efforts to dictate how controversial issues are taught in classrooms ultimately failed, but they garnered much support from conservative legislators.

Balanced government produces reasoned political debate and fosters a greater willingness to seek consensus and compromise on important issues such as education, infrastructure, economic development, criminal justice and public health.

Super majorities stand in the way of constructive lawmaking. Hoosiers would be wise to begin demanding the restoration of political balance and a return to fair representation in their legislature.

END

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