Wednesday, April 29, 2009


last day. There are a couple of issues still remaining on the last day of Indiana's legislative session. Besides the budget, the main item would be the unemployment compensation fund. This is the fund every Indiana business pays into to compensate workers when they are laid off. A few years back, the business community and labor lobbyists got together and passed a tax decrease on business and benefit increase for laid-off workers. Well, as one can imagine, by cutting income and increasing expenditures, the fund is now in the red. Unfortunately, from what I can tell at this point, the legislative compromise seems to be centered on increasing costs on businesses rather than much cutting of benefits. The problem with that is that there are cases such as construction workers who don't work in the winter, but collect unemployment benefits. I'm of the opinion that the unemployment fund isn't meant to be a buffer or carry-over for those workers who take half the year off. If a construction worker can't work in the winter months, I suggest they budget for those lean months, or find a off-season job to help make up the shortage. The unemployment fund is for those who have been laid off, not those who are taking time off.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week and a half to go

Indiana's session ends next week and it couldn't be soon enough. It's supposed to be in the 70's and 80's today through early next week. Spring is here, so let's get the legislators out of town and start enjoying some legislator-free time!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why political contributions are important

Today's installment deals with political contributions. Political giving is often portrayed as something shady done in the back rooms of some dark corner of the Statehouse. In reality, political contributions give groups and individuals the opportunity to state their case.

In my experience, most legislators/public officials want to get reelected. In order to get reelected, they need to campaign. Campaigns involve spending money on advertising (flyers, yard signs, tv/radio, etc.), staff expenses and miscellaneous expenses such as political and community events.

So when do lobbying groups give to a candidate or official (and by lobbying groups I mean lobbyists and those who hire lobbyists)? When there is a supportive candidate of that group's cause, or when the candidate's opponent is just offensive to that group.

My giving a $1,000 check to a legislator or candidate is likely going to mean that I can either take them to lunch or dinner and spend a little time talking about my issue with them. Of course there are other ways of doing it, but the legislator also sees it as a public declaration that my group supports him/her more than the other candidate. That is pretty important to most legislators. If I'm a candidate and I can say that I've received support from the Chamber of Commerce, IBEW, Farm Bureau (or insert your own group here), that plays well with individuals in the community.

My giving doesn't mean he or she will make every vote I make. It just means that I think he or she is more likely to support my issues or cause than others. Or it can also mean that I would like to begin developing a relationship with him or her because I think there is a possibility that I can work with them over a period of time and build a case for my issue.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final push

So the 2009 session of the Indiana General Assembly is in the home stretch. There are about two weeks left of session for language to move. The final two weeks are for conference committees. Around the halls, it's called death watch.

Death watch is when groups monitor as many conference committees as possible to watch for sneaky insertions into bills and to make sure their sneaky insertions into bills go through. Obviously not every bill gets some new language, but I'd say most do.

It's always an exciting time as everyone knows the final push is happening. Legislators are tired of hearing from lobbyists and lobbyists are tired of talking to legislators. In all though, it's one of the most exciting times of the year.