Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In His Own Words - Bill Levin: 2014 Candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives

26 February 2014

Once in awhile a candidate comes along who appears so outside the norm that you have to ask yourself, is this the approach that is needed for more effective government? Afterall, the majority of Americans agree that government, as is the current norm, is not being responsive to the common people. So when I came across Bill Levin who is a candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives in District 96 I wondered Is this the approach that is needed for more effective government? So I interviewed Bill about his platform, ideology and the impact those would have upon children.

I first wanted to know what lead to Bill's decision to join the race to be a representative in the Indiana House. For him it was lack of effective representation either the Republicans or Democrats. That both put forth legislation intended to satisfy their respective parties but not respect Hoosiers. His platform has three major planks being gun safety, equal rights for all people, and marijuana legalization.

As he explains because we are an agricultural state Hoosiers should have access to the benefits of cannabis. The marijuana plant is useful as a building material, has health benefits including its use as an essential oil, and is a stress reliever. As marijuana use has come into play in numerous child custody battles in which I am involved I seek to find the impact on the child. Show me the harm or benefit. It was interesting that Bill mentioned stress relief and then connected that to abuse of children. His claim that “people who use marijuana don't [physically] abuse their children as much as those who are alcohol and prescription pain killer users” is consistent with my anecdotal evidence. People who are less stressed are less likely to abuse their children.

The opposing point of view claims that marijuana is harmful to children because its use is associated with crime, gangs and is a gateway to more severe forms of drug abuse. It has generally been my observation that the most prolific gateway drug is alcohol. Levin noted that this report by the Obama administration in 2010 dispelled the gateway myth.

FlexForm and Elkhart County based automotive parts manufacturer must import the cannabis that it uses because Indiana law forbids Hoosiers from growing the plants for use here. Thus Indiana lawmakers have ensured that money is flowing out of the state that should be supporting agricultural operations here as Levin would have it.

A bill authored by Senator Richard Young that would allow Indiana farmers to grow industrial hemp crops was heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources which voted 7-0 in favor of the bill on Friday. Levin says that it will easily pass through the general assembly and be presented to the Governor Pence who he is confident will sign it into law. However when it comes to legalizing marijuana Governor Pence has taken a strong stance in opposition saying, “I don’t support the legalization of marijuana, and that’s been my position for a long time and will continue to be.” Former Republican state legislator Tom Knollman who had to resign his position because of progressive MS has objected to Pence's stance saying, “The art of being a good public official is being able to listen to both sides of an issue! I served as a Republican as a representative and am very proud of that. When the Governor refuses to look at both sides he loses my vote. I am sure my name is mud in his administration but I tried to always remember I am my brothers keeper!"

HJR3 seemed to capture most of the headlines and attention this year. So I asked Bill where he stands on adding the current statutory scheme defining marriage into the Indiana Constitution. Quite simply his response was, “I think gays should have the same right.” He expanded upon that by explaining that marriage is a contract that is often temporary in nature, If people of the same gender wish to subject themselves to the same contractual situation as those of opposite genders then they should be allowed. If two people regardless of gender want to establish that contractual arrangement then he wishes for them, “all the joy and love in the world.”

I asked about his thoughts on the Second Sentence which would have banned the State from recognizing not marital relationships similar to marriage. After a moment pondering his initial response had me laughing. Upon further explanation it is matters like Second Sentence that reflect what he had earlier described about both parties putting forth legislation intended to satisfy their respective parties but not respect all Hoosiers. He also acknowledged that while supporters of marriage claim that marriage provides stable relationships in which to rear children that they can be fleeting.

The last position I touched upon was gun education and safety. Levin wants it taught in every grade school. He noted that countries and jurisdictions where gun ownership is mandatory have lower crime rates and less gun assaults than the United States overall. One reason I suspect is because gun education is also part of the compulsory gun ownership process. Bill believes that teaching respect for guns and realistically demonstrating their impact can reduce their use in ways that mimic pop culture where the true impact is sanitized. Gun debates are always a hot topic but I think he takes a pragmatic approach to the issue. It's neither in support of gun rights or restrictions on people having guns but acknowledges that guns are part of our culture. They are a way of life. Educating children about guns may be a way to save their lives. It is this pragmatic approach that embodies his philosophy on government.

When it comes to the primary role of government Bill Levin feels it should be to provide “functional gears that make the cities or state work properly.” He wants to do his part in realizing that philosophical goal of government by putting forth bills that are "realistic, that are not party favoured, and are leaning toward benefiting Hoosiers."

People who want to do their part to help get Bill Levin elected to the Indiana General Assembly can do so by checking his Facebook page daily. As with any campaign he also needs supporters to donate to his fund-raising efforts which will help buy advertising. Supporters can go to his Fundrazr page to make a donation on-line. Finally, if you have a group of friends or associates that you feel would support the Bill Levin for House platform then consider hosting a meet 'n' greet with Bill at your home or business. Contact Bill through his Facebook page for details.

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