RICH JAMES: GOP should remember its treatment of Lake County

2013-04-28T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: GOP should remember its treatment of Lake CountyRich James Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There’s nothing funny about abuse of power, but I couldn't let it pass without a good belly laugh.

I'm talking about the Republican proposal in the General Assembly calling for a constitutional convention at the federal level.

If enough states adopted resolutions calling for the convention, Congress would have to do so.

It’s a fairly ludicrous idea that came from Senate President David Long, a Fort Wayne Republican.

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, called Long’s proposal “a silly idea from a very smart man.”

Pelath was being kind.

Although it passed the Senate, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma, who is as conservative as they come, killed the move.

Long introduced the legislation because he wanted to rein in the federal government.

Long – as do Bosma and a number of other legislators – thinks the federal government has gotten too powerful.

They think the feds are reaching beyond their constitutional powers.

They think the feds are imposing on states’ rights, and they cite Obamacare as the prime example, even though the Supreme Court upheld the president’s health plan.

Long and company think the feds are spending too much, which ultimately hurts the states financially.

While there is a degree of truth to some of those allegations, there clearly isn’t a need for a constitutional convention.

While pondering this picture, I started to chuckle. Long and others need to look in the mirror.

Hasn’t the state Legislature done to Lake County exactly what Long is accusing the feds of doing to the state?

The Legislature clearly has overreached its authority with respect to Lake County.

I point specifically to the Legislature telling Lake County it had to adopt an income tax – not because that’s what Indiana’s Constitution required, but rather what the Legislature wanted.

And when Lake County refused to do so, the Legislature abused its power again and froze the amount of money Lake County is able to collect each year.

That punitive measure, in place since 2007 is only now going to be ended.

And just this year the abuse has marched on.

Republicans pushed a bill to mandate how the Lake County Council would have to spend the money if it approved an income tax. Maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t that what we elected our councilmen to do?

The mandate on how the money can be spent was withdrawn thanks to the protest by Sen. Earline Rogers and Rep. Charlie Brown, both Gary Democrats.

Earlier this session, the Republicans also discarded a proposal to give the governor veto authority over local appointments to the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority board.

Long and others ought to get their own house in order before casting the first stone.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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