Members of the Indiana General Assembly have thrown an amazing number of obstacles in the way of local government reform.
Senate Bill 348, which deals with library district consolidations, is a perfect example of how the public good has succumbed to the lobbyists' pressure.
Under this legislation, planning committees would be established in each county to design consolidated library systems or defend proposals to maintain multiple library districts.
This is aimed at bringing library services to the 6.5 percent of Hoosiers currently not served by a library district.
But it also is aimed at places like Lake County, where there are so many smaller library districts that overhead costs are higher than with a larger district.
It's a situation where the "experts" -- the library administrators -- have a vested interest in preserving their own jobs and aren't in the best position to offer advice on whether consolidation is in the public's best interest.
The leaders of Lake County's seven library districts -- Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Lowell, Lake County and Whiting -- have asked the General Assembly to exclude them from the consolidation legislation. No surprise there.
Under SB 348, voters would be offered the choice of whether to opt out of any proposed reorganization. This means legislators are passing the buck on hard decisions that could save the taxpayers money and, in some cases, improve efficiency at the same time.
We saw how well that worked with streamlining the property tax assessing function. Unlike elsewhere in Indiana, Lake County voters offered the choice opted for the status quo in all but one township.
Why should we expect a different result with library consolidation?
The opt-out provision is a cop-out. It's just one more way for state lawmakers and local officials to pass the buck on bringing necessary reforms to local government.