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It’s OK to save taxpayers now

A new state law will make it possible for recorders’ offices to pay for their own operations if they wish.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but Allen County Recorder John McGauley had to get state law changed so he could use fees his offices charges to pay for operations instead of having to use property tax dollars.

In other words, before the change, it was illegal for him to save the taxpayers money.

With a rise in the number of documents being recorded and cost-cutting, the Allen County Recorder’s Office had enough revenue to pay for all of its expenses – but was not allowed to, and he got a hand slap from the State Board of Accounts.

State Reps. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City, and Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, went to bat for McGauley’s bill.

Heuer said an amendment was added to eliminate fears that counties would slash the office’s budget and force them to use the fees.

Because what could be scarier than efficient government?

Enough already

The Fort Wayne City Council’s ad hoc Snow Removal Task Force will meet again Thursday, but there are some who wonder whether it should be meeting at all.

The reason is even bigger than their current conundrum, which is the city’s law requiring property owners to shovel their sidewalks or be fined.

In that Catch-22 of their own making, task force members are trying to find a way to enforce a law they have each publicly said they don’t want to enforce.

But now, Tom Smith, R-1st, raises a prospect even scarier than writing tickets to senior citizens with snowy walks: eternal winter.

“I hope we can wrap (the task force) up soon, because it seems that as long as we keep meeting, it keeps snowing,” Smith said.

If that’s a motion to adjourn, we second it.

No surprise here

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, have opposed the federal health care law at every turn.

So their rooting interest was no surprise Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether private companies can evade the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds.

In the case, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties contend that their owners’ religious views should exempt them from having to provide to their employees with medical insurance that pays for contraceptives.

“Freedom of religion is a core American principle, and we cannot pick and choose when to adhere to the Constitution and when to cast it aside in order to achieve political prerogatives,” Coats said in a statement.

“I hope the Supreme Court will strike down the administration’s mandate and rescind this attack on religious freedom.”

Stutzman said in a statement: “This is not about birth control, it’s about government control. The First Amendment, the bedrock of our experiment in self-government, was meant to protect Americans from being forced to choose between practicing their faith and complying with government mandates.”

He also said the contraception mandate “presumes that religious Americans can believe whatever they want, as long as they don’t believe it at work. This is big government’s arrogance at its worst.”

April in Aachen

Gov. Mike Pence will lead an economic development and jobs mission to Germany next month, his second international job-hunting trip as governor.

“This well-timed trip is an exceptional opportunity to continue telling the world why Indiana is a state that works for business,” he said. “As the third-largest foreign employer in Indiana, German companies recognize the quality of Indiana-made goods.

“During this targeted jobs mission, we will showcase Indiana on an international stage, meet with German business leaders and learn how Indiana can continue to enhance its reputation as the U.S. destination of choice for their investments,” he said.

Pence will leave April 12 and return April 18. During the targeted job-hunting trip, he will travel to Aachen, Wipperfurth, Bocholt, Hanover and Berlin to meet with business and government leaders and host a business reception for potential investors.

He will also make calls to executives from Zentis GmbH & Co., VOSS Automotive and Jaeger Holding as well as other companies with Indiana operations.

In response to Ambassador to the United States Dr. Peter Ammon’s visit to Indiana last summer to promote the Skills Initiative, the governor will visit Zentis to learn firsthand about Germany’s distinguished workforce development system.

During the trip, the governor will also visit Ramstein Air Base, the U.S. Air Forces European headquarters and home to the 86th Airlift Wing.

The cost of the state delegation is being covered through private donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation, whose Berlin office will assist with trip arrangements.

In addition to Pence, the state will be represented by first lady Karen Pence and Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith.

This jobs mission comes just seven months after Pence led a delegation to Japan.

Dan Stockman and Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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