The Indiana General Assembly processed many bits of legislation — some good, some bad, most in between. We'll deal with some of it in length, but here are short reactions to a few of those bills:
- Drug testing for welfare recipients: We're glad to see House Bill 1351 die. It would have cost far more than it would have saved, and we're disturbed by the idea that poor people — and people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are the poorest of the poor — should be further demeaned for their low income level. If Indiana had implemented this policy, the drug tests would have cost far more than would have been recouped. In fact, the drug abuse rate for TANF recipients is lower than for the general population. Government should help these people, not punish them for being destitute.
- Early childhood education: The preschool pilot project authorized under House Enrolled Act 1004 creates a voucher program for at least 1,000 low-income children to attend high-quality preschool programs in five counties not yet identified. Lake County should be one of those counties. Look at where child poverty is high — that is, higher than the state's already high rate — when determining which counties should participate.
- Gated communities: Residents in gated communities often appreciate the ability to shut out solicitors. But candidates for public office and their volunteers should be, and will be, excluded from that group. The political process is an important part of the social fabric. If you don't want to talk to a candidate, don't open the door. But don't forbid your neighbors from doing so.
- Rental inspections: This is a bill Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. opposed. We agree it makes sense to do these apartment safety inspections, especially for small buildings that aren't professionally managed. The state shouldn't tie municipal hands, other than what HEA 1403 specifies.