Immigration reform -- really?
Indiana business leaders last week issued a call for Washington to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. “What we are saying to them is, ‘Guys, get your act together and start to cooperate and compromise,’ “ said Cam Carter, a vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Business leaders across the country held events to draw attention to the issue, which is “stymied by election-year politics, mistrust among lawmakers and the complexities of fixing an immigration system that everyone agrees is broken.”
Well, good luck with that. Even before the crisis of thousands of children coming across the border, reform was infected by the partisan paralysis gripping Washington.
Embarrassed by Common Core
When the National Governors Association met in Nashville, Tenn., last week, one important topic was conspicuously absent from the agenda. None of the governors wanted to talk about Common Core, the set of academic standards aimed at raising student achievement, though it has become the hottest education topic in most of their states.
The governors were, perhaps suffering from a combination of embarrassment and good, old-fashioned fear. It was at their direction, in a truly bipartisan effort, that Common Core was developed. Now, with a popular revolt against the standards building, especially among staunch conservatives on the right and some teacher groups on the left, they are having to consider their support.
An example of fiscal prudence
Despite bringing in nearly $60 million less that the year before, Indiana finished the fiscal year with a surplus of more than $100 million, which pushed its reserves above the $2 billion mark. If that seems like fiscal prudence to you, you must not be a politician whose first instinct is to spend.
Indianapolis Rep. Greg Porter, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, says it is disgraceful for Republicans to be proud or delighted with such a surplus when they aren’t running “state government in a way that benefits the people of Indiana.”
Yes, that’s one way to look at it. But most states have a different name for such money: a “rainy day fund.”
A reason to vote in the fall election
There aren’t any exciting races on the fall ballot to draw voters to the polls – Republicans have always dominated in Allen County, and this year will be no exception. But there is one important reason not to stay home: a referendum that will let voters decide whether to change the structure of county government.
If approved, the measure would bring the first substantive change since adoption of the first state constitution in 1816. The three elected county commissioners would be replaced by one elected executive. County Council would expand from seven to nine members — all representing geographically defined districts — and would assume the legislative powers now exercised by commissioners.
Another smoking ban proposal
The city proposes to extend the existing smoking ban to include bars. Bar owners protest that it will hurt their business because all the smokers will start drinking at home. The City Council is conflicted, and a close vote is expected. No, it’s not Bloomington in 2005, or West Lafayette or Fort Wayne in 2007. It’s South Bend, and the vote was just last week.
This particular vote went in the bar owners’ favor when Councilwoman Valerie Schey, an original sponsor of the measure, changed her mind after a meeting with them. But the vote was 5-4, with some in the majority saying that, though the economic argument swayed them, they’re still not completely happy with exempting bars. So the fight will continue.