Political Notebook


Pence: Keep bills to single subject


Way back before Mike Pence was governor or even congressman, he was a citizen who challenged state legislators for violating the single-subject provision of the Indiana Constitution.

That experience has him watching legislation that comes to his desk very closely.

“There are large issues that ought to have a standalone vote, and the governor ought to be given an opportunity to say yea or nay,” Pence said. “Things should not be unnecessarily combined, and if I see where they are, we’ll express ourselves in the legislative process about that.”

Legislative logrolling is infamous in the Capitol, though, to be fair, it happens much less than it used to. The general concept involves combining into one bill several unrelated proposals to get the votes needed to pass the measure.

In the past, major gambling provisions have found themselves in the budget. Or redistricting of legislative districts has mingled with school funding.

Indiana Law Blog author Marcia Oddi noted in a 2001 article for the journal of the Indiana State Bar Association that the last time the Indiana Supreme Court used the one-subject-matter limitation to invalidate a law was 40 years ago, in 1971.

“Although a number of legislative acts have been challenged on the same basis since 1971, none has been held by the Court to violate the one subject matter prohibition. The direction the Court has taken in recent years is one of reluctance to intervene in the activities of a co-equal branch of government,” Oddi wrote.

There has always been a single-subject limitation, though it has been revised several times. The current language was changed in 1974 and reads, “An act, except an act for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject and matters properly connected therewith.”

Pence in 1995 sued over a bill that included language involving both compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and lawmakers’ pensions. But the court ruled that Pence lacked standing to file it, according to Oddi.

“The Supreme Court has spoken on that. I do believe that the spirit of that provision of the Constitution has continued to be adhered to by the General Assembly in the years that have followed and should continue to be,” Pence said.

Familiar fines

Last Sunday, Allen County Democratic Party Chairman John Court announced that attorney and former Fort Wayne City Councilman Tim Pape had been appointed to fill the party’s seat on the three-member, bipartisan Allen County Election Board.

Not only will Pape be replacing his law partner, Andrew Boxberger, on the board, but he is, shall we say, familiar with the board’s workings.

In the words of Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine: “From my review of the Election Board records, it appears that the Democrats’ new appointee was fined $327 in 2011 for failing to file his report on a timely basis, and $25 in 2012 for the same violation,” Shine wrote in an email. “I hope Tim will vow to NOT lead by example.”

Shine didn’t get his vow, but he did get a chagrined response: “Yes, I filed late reports twice,” Pape responded. “I was embarrassed by it then and am now, and regret the attention my oversight required of the Election Board.”

Daniels lends voice

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels gets a shout-out in the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project, the party’s new blueprint for attracting more voters from among women, minorities and young people.

In its “Messaging” section, under the heading “The Way Forward,” the plan notes that “Republicans are thriving on the state level.” It ticks off the accomplishments of five GOP governors and quotes two more plus Daniels.

The plan states that Daniels “told us that young voters’ share of the national debt is many times greater than the amount of their college loans. ‘They’re getting the shaft,’ he said. ‘There’s an opening, and a need, for someone to be their voice.’ ”

The document fails to mention that Daniels has become president of Purdue University – a position that by its very nature should make him an advocate, if not a voice, for young adults.

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