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Change we can believe in? You can take that to the Banks.

By Scott Tibbs, January 25, 2011

My friend Jim Banks was elected to the Indiana State Senate last year, and has wasted no time in introducing groundbreaking legislation to implement change we can believe in. I knew I could trust Jim to vote the right way in Indianapolis. I am very excited that he has immediately taken a leadership role through the legislation he introduced.

Here are the descriptions for some of the legislation Jim has introduced. Click here to see all of the legislation he has sponsored in this legislative session.

I will comment more specifically below.

Senate Bill 0136

Legislative mailings. Provides that, during the 90 day period before election day, a member of the general assembly may not send an official legislative communication for which the mailing cost is paid in whole or in part using appropriations made by the general assembly.

I have been complaining about legislative mailings for some time now. For too long, the welfare queens have been using "informational" mailings that feature glossy full-color photographs, their name in large font and "information" about what that legislator is going. Legislators pretend these are a public service, but in reality they are little more than taxpayer-funded campaign mailings. Bravo to Jim Banks for challenging his fellow legislators to get off the dole.

Senate Bill 0148

Inheritance tax and estate tax. Phases out the inheritance tax beginning July 1, 2013, by giving an increasing credit against the inheritance tax due. Provides that the inheritance tax does not apply to the transfer of property interests by a decedent whose death occurs after June 30, 2018. Phases out payments of the inheritance tax replacement amount to counties over a period between 2013 and 2018. Provides that the estate tax and generation skipping transfer tax do not apply after June 30, 2018. Makes technical corrections.

This is a great piece of legislation. It is basic fairness to allow people to pass wealth to their descendents, and will advance economic growth in the state.

Senate Bill 0151

Precinct committeemen. Requires the county chairman of a major political party to submit, not later than July 1 each year, to the county election board the name and address of the party's precinct committeeman and vice committeeman for each precinct in the county. Requires the county chairman to update the information provided not later than seven days after a change occurs. Provides that the information is open for public inspection and copying in the same manner as other public records. Provides for a civil penalty of $50 per day, with a maximum of $500, for each day the information is late. Provides that civil penalties collected are to be deposited in the campaign finance enforcement account.

Josh Gillespie blogged about this over at Hoosier Access last month. Precinct committeemen have the power to choose elected officials in the event of a vacancy, so it is critical to open government that those records be up to date and accessible.

Senate Bill 0290

Prohibition of abortion. Prohibits abortion in Indiana unless a physician determines, based on sound medical practice, that the abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. Creates a Class C felony for a person who knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly performs an abortion. Removes references to abortion clinics. Repeals current statutes governing the performance of abortions.

Naturally, I am very pleased with this. Even if passed, this would have to survive litigation and would go all the way to the Supreme Court before it could be enforced. Jim is demonstrating that just because the status quo is abortion on demand, it does not always have to be this way.

Senate Bill 0522

Prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks. Sets public policy findings concerning when a fetus can feel pain. Sets requirements for performing an abortion after the first trimester but before the earlier of viability of the fetus or 20 weeks of postfertilization age of the fetus (current law requirements are based on viability of the fetus). Requires that a physician determine the postfertilization age of a fetus before performing an abortion, and allows for the discipline of a physician who fails to do this in certain circumstances.

Creates a cause of action for a pregnant woman or the biological father of the fetus for actual and punitive damages if a physician recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs or attempts to perform an abortion in violation of the law. Provides for injunctive relief for specified individuals against a physician to prevent the physician from performing further abortions that violate the law.

Creates the special litigation defense fund to provide reimbursement of the costs and expenses incurred by the attorney general in defending the constitutionality of this act, and continuously appropriates the fund. Provides for severability of provisions if a court determines that any of the law is unconstitutional, and specifies prior law returns to effect if the amended law is found by the court to be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, this would leave the majority of abortions untouched. However, given the huge obstacles to an outright ban on abortion, this is a step in the right direction toward a life-affirming culture. It is a realistic ban that should attract the support of moderate abortion rights supporters. It is smart strategy to attack on two fronts, picking the low-hanging fruit with the ultimate goal of chopping down the whole tree.

Joint Resolution 0013

Definition of marriage. Provides that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.

As our society becomes more and more tolerant of sexual deviancy, it is important to get this passed quickly as a traffic calming device on the road to total depravity.

Joint Resolution 0010

Elections by secret ballot. Adds a new section to the Constitution of the State of Indiana to provide that if any Indiana or federal law requires or permits an election for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot in any such election is guaranteed. Provides that all elections by the people shall be by secret ballot.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats have been working to remove the right to secret ballot for two years now at the federal level, because the unions admit "we can't win that way anymore." Fortunately, they have not been able to accomplish it yet. That effort should be dead in the water with the new Republican House of Representatives, but Jim is smart to launch a preemptive strike on this anti-democratic effort by the Left.