Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holcomb Should Halt General Assembly Assault on Government Transparency

Governor Eric Holcomb
Governor Eric Holcomb has a chance to send a statement to the Indiana General Assembly on behalf of the Hoosier people, and, if they listen, he just might save them from themselves.

If you've been following this legislative session, the state's alcoholic beverage laws and how to pay for infrastructure repairs have dominated much of the talk, but, as the bills start to hit Governor Holcomb's desk, there's one piece of legislation that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

The Indiana House and Senate passed House Bill 1523. The bill would give Indiana's many layers of government the freedom to charge taxpayers, the media, or anyone wanting public records up to $20 an hour if the search requires more than two hours of research.  That can get quite expensive, and it can create a chilling effect especially for those who can't afford it.

Reporter Kaitlin Lange of the Evansville Courier-Press reports that Holcomb has several options.  Like his predecessor, Mike Pence, he can veto the measure.  Pence vetoed a similar bill when he was Governor.  He can sign the bill, or he can allow the bill to pass into law without his signature.

The last option would be a cowardly way out, but it would give the Governor an out by saying that he didn't agree with the legislation and wouldn't sign it. By signing the bill, he would put himself in a position that could give Democrats an attack position in 2020 when and if he decides to run for reelection.

His best option would be to do what Pence did and veto the bill.  The General Assembly would need just a bare majority to overturn his veto, but Holcomb would be on the record as standing with the Hoosier people against this ridiculous bill that would be a strike against government transparency.

He certainly hasn't done everything I've wished him to do, but Holcomb has been a much-needed advocate for Hoosier common sense so far in the Governor's Office.  This bill seems like another opportunity for Holcomb to stand up and be counted and show his independence from the legislative branch.

Perhaps by telling the General Assembly to take a hike on this price hike, he'll wake them up a little.


Greg Bowes said...

While HEA 1523 does increase access to government records by allowing the requester to obtain electronic files, the charge for searching for a record is likely to be abused by public agencies. An agency could decide that it would take 3 or 4 hours to search for a record and demand payment in advance. After that, the public agency employee could slow-walk the search in order to justify the search fee.
I have had many bad experiences with public agencies finding any excuse to make a public records request more difficult. These include blatantly disregarding the law to force me to file a lawsuit to enforce my rights, and then fighting like mad with lawyers paid by the taxpayers. This proposal gives one more tool to the public agency that does not respect government transparency.
I have written to Governor Holcomb asking for his veto. I hope others will, too.

True Republican said...

You have called and we have answered! Speak the truth Brother's Easter and Bowes! Mr. Bowes it speaks well of you as former Marion County Assesor that you have lent your voice to the cause of good government.

johnnystir said...

I understand that there are people that also abuse the public records laws, but I'd rather err on their side than to have someone who is legitimately trying to hold government's feet to the fire on transparency be inconvenienced by this ridiculous law.

You bring up a great point, too, Greg. Good to hear from you. Thanks Indy Republican.


True Republican said...

It is we who owe you thanks Jon. I hope you don't object if we tell our readers about your blog. We agree with you on this issue Jon 1,000%