Rep. Deal helps sink plan to abolish township boards

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Ross Deal (D-Mishawaka) today helped kill a plan that would have radically restructured township governing bodies across Indiana.

Deal was among those who spoke in opposition to House Bill 1650, legislation authored by State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) that would have begun the process of eliminating township boards within the next few years. Thanks to Deal’s work, representatives defeated House Bill 1650 75-18.

“In the brief time I have been here, I have had more constituent interaction on this bill than on all others combined,” Deal told House members. “These phone calls, tweets, e-mails and letters have been 100 percent in opposition to House Bill 1650.”

Deal said township boards are “the most important form of government in the smallest, least-populated areas of our state. This is the unit of government closest to the ground.

“To dissolve these boards would be detrimental to the entire process,” he continued. “It would concentrate authority in the township trustee and cause decisions to be made unilaterally. There would be no person or entity to formally advise the trustee.”

Deal also said that local township boards provide a strong check on the actions of trustees because it often takes too long for state officials to examine problems that arise at that level of local government.

“I would argue that watchdogs are vital at all levels of government, but particularly at the most local levels, where the townships play a prominent role in helping to provide those in need with shelter, food, clothing and other basic needs, along with such services as fire protection, upkeep of parks and community centers, and maintenance of cemeteries,” Deal said. “They are critical to serving the public, and I do not think we need to eliminate them. I am thrilled that so many of my colleagues agree.”

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