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The need for a well-informed legislature

By Scott Tibbs, February 4, 2010

From the February 3, 2010 Herald-Times:

Senators passed the bill, 29-21, which now heads to the Indiana House. The bill's lead sponsor in the Indiana House is Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington.

Welch does not know much about the bill, she said Tuesday.

"I have not had a chance to review it," said Welch, who is sponsoring the bill because she knows Hershman and has worked with him in the past.

What is Peggy Welch thinking? I can't imagine why any legislator would sponsor legislation she has not read.

I understand that one of the realities of the state legislature is that not every legislator is going to read every bill he/she votes on. (That should be your first clue that the government is doing far too much, by the way.) But why would you sponsor legislation you have not read and admittedly do not know that much about? Welch owes it to her constituents to be well-informed on legislation before she becomes the lead sponsor of the bill in her chamber. Quite simply, this was an abdication of her responsibilities as a state legislator.

Whether Senate Bill 236 is a good idea or not is not the issue. The issue is whether our elected officials are engaged in due diligence to review legislation and make sure that the legislation is good policy for Hoosiers.

Having looked over the legislation, some of it makes sense, such as the requirement that an employer who files "more than twenty-five (25) Form W-2 federal income tax withholding statements with the department in a calendar year" will be required to file electronically rather than using a paper form. Much of the legislation is written in complicated technical language that I am having a difficult time following, so I can't express an opinion one way or the other on the tax credits.

Welch has been great on social issues like abortion and homosexual marriage, sponsoring an amendment to the state constitution forbidding government from recognizing same-sex marriage and serving as an advocate for the unborn. She has never been strong on fiscal issues and has sponsored nanny-state legislation in the past.

The biggest problem with Welch is her party affiliation. It does not matter that she sponsors a marriage protection amendment as long as she continues to vote for Pat Bauer, who has prevented the amendment from even coming up for a vote in the Indiana House. As long as she continues to caucus with the Democrats, she negates her own votes.