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Marion County officials ask governor to veto mayor's power grab

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For immediate release:
April 30, 2013

 

INDIANAPOLIS - A group of Marion County officials today asked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to veto Senate Bill 621, legislation they called a power grab that consolidates more influence with the Indianapolis mayor and reduces the public’s role in local government.

The group, which included members of the Indiana General Assembly and the City-County Council, and countywide officeholders, said the legislation runs against the wishes of the people of Indianapolis and Marion County and serves only to place more budgetary and administrative controls in the mayor’s hands.

Despite receiving bipartisan opposition, Senate Bill 621 was passed by the Republican super-majorities in the Indiana House and Senate in the final week of the 2013 legislative session. Final approval must come from the governor, who raised concerns about the measure during his post-session review earlier this week.

Those concerns were highlighted by participants at today’s press conference. Most of the attention on the bill has focused on provisions that would eliminate the four at-large members of the City-County Council, and give the mayor the kind of budgetary power over offices like the sheriff and prosecutor that officials fear could drastically affect their ability to do their jobs. Participants agreed the bill would give the mayor powers beyond that of Indiana’s governor.

They also noted the legislation would set a precedent that could be extended easily to other cities and towns across Indiana, without giving voters any input into the process.

“It was a sad day for the great state of Indiana when the General Assembly stopped legislating policy and procedures and started legislating politics,” said State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis). “Senate Bill 621 was all about politics. It makes me sick when the Legislature, an institution that I love, is asked to become involved in political power grabs. It flies in the face of the principles of checks and balances in government and separation of powers for the three branches of government. The right thing for the governor to do is veto this bill to show support for Marion County taxpayers.”

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry added, “Senate Bill 621 leads all Indiana counties down the slippery slope of state government dictating how they should be run. It raises public safety concerns by exposing the budgets of constitutional officeholders to political gamesmanship. It alters the framework by which our citizens are represented without any attempt to engage them in the conversation. It is simply a piece of bad legislation at its worst. We urge Gov. Pence to veto SB 621.”

City-County Councilman Zach Adamson said the legislation “violates the very spirit and intent of Uni-Gov.

“It leaves the people of this city with fewer elected officials who are accountable to them at City Hall,” Adamson continued. “It strips the Council’s ability to serve as a balance to the now unchecked power of the Mayor, the very balance the voters clearly and decisively demanded when they elected us. It also drastically alters the makeup of the City-County Council by eliminating the four at-large councillors without a shred of input from the people of Marion County in a purely partisan move that attacks the people’s ability to self-govern.”

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