Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Legislation Passed in Indiana

Admittedly I have not been a long-time participant in the legislative process at the Indiana State House. Those who have been still have not seen anything like the walk-out by Democrat lawmakers in 2011.

The last time there was a walk-out was in 1864 and was based upon ratification of the 14th Amendment.

This time the purpose for boycotting the session is not as clear. We are now close to setting a national record for the duration of the legislative strike as Brian Bosma has called it.

I spoke to Bosma soon after the 2010 election and again on Thursday 17 March 2011 before he went into the House chambers and made this announcement. On both times it was clear that Bosma would be firm in his resolve to support legislation that would remove the long standing barriers that have reduced the opportunities for children in Indiana to flourish.

I have some rather strong feelings about this situation and my reasons for them. First, let me disclose that I do not hold an allegiance to either of the two parties. I actually refer to them as the two-factions of the Incumbent Party. I am about as independent as you can get. I do tend to favour Republican fiscal policies while seeming to side more with Democrats on social issues. That is almost a contradiction within itself. Libertarians are the people who I find myself at home with although I have some substantial differences with them in areas where I feel there should be government regulation or involvement.

I have run and been elected on the Democratic ticket but get invited to and participate in more Republican election activities.

As for legislation I have always enjoyed bi-partisan support. In fact, it is not good enough for me to get a bill passed by a simple majority. I know that one day I will face the point at which I am going to have to accept that not everyone is going to support my legislation but until that time I want and demand of myself that I get unanimous support.

So with that said it matters not to me whether the absentee legislators are Republicans, Democrats or any other party that may come along. What matters is that they were elected to do a job which they are not doing.

I can't recall any campaign where I have heard a candidate proclaim that, if elected, he or she will abandon the legislative body and process as a means by which to propound a political agenda. I have heard it said though that this is a viable means by which to prevent the majority from ramming legislation down the throats of the minority. This is one of the fundamental principles of our constitutional republic; that we allow the majority to rule while protecting the rights of the minority.

Democracy in its purest form is said to be two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner. As an agnostic I am very thankful and appreciative of the Freedom of Religion Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Freedom of religion is not only the right to practice the religion of ones choosing but also to not practice religion at all.

Some of my fellow agnostics may find themselves at odds with my position on religion and government - that within the halls of government I believe it is perfectly acceptable to open some proceedings with prayers or display religious texts such as the Ten Commandments.

While maintaining the inalienable rights of the individuals I do feel we should then be subject to the rule of the majority through a representative government. I also believe that referendum should be used in very limited circumstances. Referendum often becomes the vote of those with the most money.

So, as for the walk-out that has occurred this year I have just one word that covers my feelings completely: disappointed.

These are legislators that I know. People that I have worked closely with on bills. Individuals that have discussed their opinion, the position that represents their constituency and what it would take to gain their full-support for legislation for which I advocate. Yet now, some of that very legislation that would serve to benefit children who are in the thralls of an abusive home-life or otherwise subject to harm has been defeated.

I think that it is inexcusable to avoid the legislative process. It may very well be true that the majority party will pass legislation opposite to the will of the minority party and their constituency. But that is our process.

If the majority is successful in passing legislation that violates the rights of the minority then we have the opportunity for relief through our judicial branch of government. It is inappropriate for legislators to attempt to usurp the authority of the judiciary by not allowing legislation to be passed.

I believe that during the hearings on the legislation that those who are in opposition, be they constituents, lobbyist or legislators, make their voices heard at that time. Give me a reason to side with you in opposition. You may give me a reason to support your party in the next election.

What I am hearing today is that other than the budget the Democrats will not be returning to finish any legislation that is currently pending.

By avoiding the legislative process though I can not find any reason to support those who have done so and, regardless of their platform, I would advocate for the election of those who promise to serve by participating in the session.

If you would like to participate in the legislative process when it resumes please contact me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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