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Allow public comment, amendments


May 4, 2018

I paid close attention to HB1315 during the Indiana General Assembly's regular session as it proposed a dangerous precedent — the stripping of elected local oversight of community schools, particularly in Muncie and Gary.

The bill changed over the session, but, on the final day, the bill was put back to its original form. Speaker Bosma says that bills to be considered in the special session have been fully vetted, there has been public comment and there is no reason to amend them. I disagree. Clearly, there were still issues with HB1315 as it was not passed in the regular session and had changes stripped on the final day.

Why are constituents being silenced during the special session? It is imperative that citizens get to make their voices heard on this bill in its current form. Otherwise, this is a bait and switch.

The future of communities that could lose elected oversight of their schools is too important to be set by a bill that has no input from the public. State legislators should hear the concerns of all who expect them to do the right thing — let the public offer comments on HB1315 in its current form and allow amendments. If the usual process is good enough for the regular session, it should also be good enough for the special session.

Christine Hitchcock
Bloomington, Ind.
May 16, 2018

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Allow public comment and amendments during special session


I paid close attention to HB1315 during the Indiana General Assembly’s regular session as it proposed a dangerous precedent - the stripping of elected local oversight of community schools, particularly in Muncie and Gary. The bill changed over the session but, on the final day, the bill was put back to its original form. Speaker Bosma says that bills to be considered in the special session have been fully vetted, there has been public comment, and there is no reason to amend them. I disagree. Clearly, there were still issues with HB1315 as it was not passed in the regular session and had changes stripped on the final day. Why are constituents being silenced during the special session? It is imperative that citizens get to make their voices heard on this bill in its current form. Otherwise, this is a bait and switch.

The future of communities that could lose elected oversight of their schools is too important to be set by a bill that has no input from the public. State legislators should hear the concerns of all who expect them to do the right thing - let the public offer comments on HB1315 in its current form and allow amendments. If the usual process is good enough for the regular session, it should also be good enough for the special session.

Christine Hitchcock
Bloomington, IN
May 04, 2018

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Proud of General Assembly’s efforts


President Dwight Eisenhower once said that farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield. That quote leapt to mind when I read recent articles featuring sharp criticism of this year's General Assembly. In defense of all 150 members of the legislature, I felt the record had to be set straight.

The last few hours of the legislative session were less than glamorous, but to say that nothing of substance happened this year is far from reality.

House Republicans declared our agenda at the start of the session and delivered results for Hoosiers. For starters, we added nearly $100 million to the school formula to fully fund public schools that received a spike of new students.

Exempting the sales tax on software as a service provided Indiana's tech sectors with an additional tool that will help this critical portion of our economy grow exponentially. Because of policies adopted by the General Assembly, Indiana is now second in growth in the nation in high-paying software jobs, a far cry from our status as the only state to lose technology jobs from 1996 to 2002.

All Hoosier students will soon receive computer training, we greatly expanded access to mental health and addiction treatment services, adopted legislation to downsize state and local government and worked to reduce Indiana's infant mortality rate.

We even passed legislation allowing the 9,000 young people who are here legally under the Federal DACA program to be eligible for professional licenses as nurses, engineers and other professional licensees.

In addition, we legalized the use of cannabidiol or CBD oil for all Hoosiers to use as a natural herbal remedy so long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC and meets certain labeling and testing requirements. Cannabidiol has given relief to those suffering from a range of ailments, including epileptic seizures.

Finally, we passed legislation to move Indiana into a new era of workforce preparation. Indiana ranks first in the Midwest and in the top handful of states in the nation in tax environment, economic potential, business climate, small business regulatory atmosphere, cost of living and fiscal stability. Because of this, jobs are coming here in droves. Now, Hoosiers have the tools to "skill up" and take advantage of these unprecedented opportunities.

A one-day special session — I'm certainly not happy about it and wish it could have been avoided. But we will make it right for Hoosiers, complete the job of adopting a few important bills and continue to make Indiana the best place in America to work, raise a family and create a job. Hoosiers deserve nothing less.

Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives
May 02, 2018

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Shocked, saddened


I recently returned to Crawford County after decades being gone. I have explored the area and am saddened by what I have seen. Most towns are falling apart. Very little is left for the citizens.

I am curious to know why aren't people fighting to rebuild their town? I won't even go into detail about how awful the streets and roads are here. I remember a time when our little towns were vibrant and active. Now, I see falling down buildings everywhere and very few people.

As a county, why not come together and rebuild before it's all gone? I know the town employees of Marengo try so hard to keep up the town. There has to be someone on the county commission board to look for funding from the state to help. We need to recruit new business to the area and bring in jobs. Instead, I hear everyone saying no one does anything. Why not? Crawford County is a beautiful area that is dying on the vine.

I am willing to help in anyway I can to bring back the once vibrant small towns.

Charles Jenkins
Marengo, Ind.
May 02, 2018

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Frustrated with lack of ethics


Ashira Young mentioned scams and the way they drain your money. Car insurance is the biggest scam there is.

I went online to receive a quote. I got a quote at $300 for six months. It was for liability on two trucks and a van. I called them the next day. They asked if my wife drove, and I said no. They asked if she ever drove and I said no. My wife doesn't have a driver's license. Then, they said that they have to charge double on accident coverage.

They couldn't get me one way so they came up with another way. It is all a scam. They also want to attach home owner's insurance to charge you more. By the time they were done, I was charged over $800 for the year.

There seem to be no ethics in business anymore. It's all about making money and stealing from the consumer all you can.

Insurance companies can drop your coverage if they choose to do so. They can raise your rates, even if an accident was not your fault. Legally, they can do whatever they want, and the consumer has no protection.

Consumer protection is a scam within itself. They will tell you that there is nothing they can do. They advise you to hire an attorney. To me, consumer protection is just another way to scam people out of their dollars.

I'm 65 years old. I receive a pension and Social Security. If your pension is over $3,500 a year, you must pay the state 3.25 percent in taxes. In some states, such as Kentucky, you are exempt. You work all your life, and the state takes it away from you. It's criminal to steal from retired people. Corruption is everywhere, not just in the White House.

Charles Thompson
Marengo, Ind.
May 02, 2018

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Shock and Disappointment


I recently returned to Crawford County after decades being gone. I have explored the area and am saddened by what I have seen. Most towns are falling apart. Very little is left for the citizens. I am curious to know why aren't people fighting to rebuild their town. I won't even go into detail about how awful the streets and roads are here. I remember a time when our little towns were vibrant and active. Now I see falling down buildings everywhere and very few people. As a county why not come together and rebuild before it's all gone. I know the town employees of Marengo try so hard to keep up the town. There has to be someone on the county commission board to look for funding from the state to help. We need to recruit new business to the area and bring in jobs. Instead I hear everyone saying no one does anything. Why not? Crawford County is a beautiful area that is dying on the vine. I am willing to help in anyway I can to bring back the once vibrant small towns.

Charles Jenkins
Marengo Indiana
April 20, 2018

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Response to 'pro-choice' editorial


This is written in response to the April 4, 2018, article titled "Pro-choice is not a synonym for pro-abortion" by Taylor Ferguson, staff writer's viewpoint.

Anyone with a pro-life point of view would have to admit great respect for putting forth this article on a very complicated subject and also admiration of the author's sincere personal remarks of declaring never to be one to have an abortion. In my view, motherhood is the most wonderful proof a woman can show her love for another. Carrying a baby the nine months to accomplish this is a challenging task for even the easiest pregnancy. Men cannot even come close to attaining an equal to this esteemed recognition, no matter what great accomplishments they perform. Everyone alive must honestly consider their mother as being the most loving, unselfish and giving person they have ever known. She gave you life!

In an effort to review the author's arguments on the title of the article, let's start with the first stated reason to be pro-choice, which was stated as believing in the separation of church and state. The thesis of this argument seems to be that we do not want religious tenets or dogmas to govern our behavior and, instead, let each person to make all these life decisions as they individual judge what is proper, decent, good or evil. This is freedom from any law or judgment not liked.

The second argument is to create an appealing argument rather than condemning argument in discussions, and it is assumed this can be for very important subjects. This is certainly recognized as the best route in persuading the opposing view with facts and cause and effects and solid logic. It is actually doubtful to ever change another committed person's viewpoint because we all believe what we believe, no matter what! Also, it is extremely doubtful anyone can honestly judge another's soul condition or to think that God's wrath comes from a bystander's comments to God. Judging someone as an unbeliever is a stretch since most sincere people comment on a person's behavior, not condemning the person.

Some important Hollywood people and Democrats think showing empathy and being compassionate for whatever unsavory and unsightly behavior is exposed is proof that they are superior human beings, more forgiving and, thus, much more Christian than those who hold up standards that describe what is acceptable behavior for all to see. In the Bible, there were many terrible things being done to inhabitants of various countries. Things like Kings ordering the slaying of any child under 2 years old. It was a different and more violent time and not the standard situation of today.

The next argument was believing in humanity rather than shame. Shame is defined as a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace. Or, one who brings dishonor, disgrace or condemnation. Humanity is defined as human beings collectively, mankind. The quality of being humane, being characterized by kindness or compassion. Marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns. This is really an unfruitful and tragic argument, especially when arguing "… regardless of the choice they made, should never be shamed for doing so." I do not believe the pro-lifers degrade or say to women who went through abortions, "Shame on you." Pro-lifers are prayer people and respectful of everyone. I think the most shamed emotion would be the personal generated guilt, being assumed by the woman who goes through with an abortion. Some women are having this emotion years after the event. It is not natural for mothers to kill their unborn or their infants or other children.

The fourth argument is respecting another's civil right to reproductive freedom. There is a major error in this argument that people are spewing hatred at each other on either side of the issue. Pro-lifers do not hate those going through abortions. They, more than anything else, feel a sadness that it happens, not hatefulness. Venial pro-lifers understand why some women take this course of action. They wish it did not happen. They wish other avenues were taken versus abortion, and they pardon the woman's behavior.

The last paragraphs state "We can all agree that abortion should be rare." "And, how do we get there?" Certainly, the author has many good suggestions that prevent pregnancy and, thus, the possibility of abortion. Many of these contraceptions and educational programs are readily available today and are free. Unfortunately, rare abortions are not the state of affairs. Since 1967, there has been an annual count on abortion and there have been 44,498,750 abortions performed in this country since the beginning. 2014 had 652,639 abortions recorded as being performed in this one year, hardly a rare event.

The most important fact missing from this article is a single mention of the unborn fetus and the normal expected outcome. People don't claim to be a "little bit" pregnant. They either are or are not experiencing a condition that the normal humane outcome is, at term, the baby boy or girl is born. Is there any empathy or compassion for this powerless and venerable little fellow who is growing inside the womb of a pregnant woman? Are there any thoughts to realize some responsibility to that unborn, who, if allowed to survive, may end up being the joy of a mother's life who has let it develop naturally? Many people who have children say the best thing in their life is their children and grandchildren. Doesn't some consideration need to be given to the fetus?

Finally, if you google "pro-choice," the definition given is "advocating legalized abortion." Advocating is one who argues for a cause to speak in favor of. This article's title was "Pro-choice is not a synonym for pro-abortion." It is obvious, in the English language, pro-choice is a synonym for pro-abortion, whether believing in abortion or not.

Charles A. Totten
Leavenworth, Ind.
April 11, 2018

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Choose results, not fanaticism


When arguing with a fanatic, beware they spit when excited in a heated argument. They will holler, bug out their eyes, break wind and start spitting. Spit contains germs, nasty germs, such as STDs, Hep C, Aids, etc. Laws need to be passed requiring fanatical spitters to wear masks in public.

Fanatics, not spit, block common-sense legislation on many issues such as abortion, gun control, etc.

Fanatics in the pro-/anti-abortion movements have wasted time and millions fighting the issue (abortion) while ignoring the problem (unwanted pregnancies). If these fanatics had spent their time and money working on ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies, the number of abortions performed may have decreased dramatically.

The abortion issue has been debated for decades using the same old arguments and nothing has changed. It is time for politicians to ignore the Henny Penny fanatics and try something new, such as:

1. Abstinence sounds good, but doesn't work. It was tried during the AIDS crisis. It did not work then and it will not work now.

2. Start sex education in elementary and continue it to high school.

3. Fund research for an oral male contraceptive.

4. Provide free contraceptives and/or condoms to low-income families and teenagers who are sexually active.

5. Mandatory under-the-skin contraceptives for females, regardless of age, who are convicted of prostitution. A side benefit would be less addict babies being born because most prostitutes are addicts.

6. In cases of incest, neuter the adult sex offender.

If you, the general public, believe that preventing unwanted pregnancies is a good idea and expect our legislators to at least discuss it, don't hold your breath. Why? Because they are cowards who are terrified of the fanatics in their own parties. If you would like for the politicians to discuss preventing unwanted pregnancies, the public needs to give them a backbone boost by calling them and screaming louder than the fanatics. Our state legislators and contact numbers are:

Sen. Erin Houchin 800-382-9467

Rep. Steve Bartels 800-382-9841

Thank you for allowing me to exercise my right to free political speech.

P.S. To the 80 percent of the public who are not fanatics, please note that nowhere in the editorial was an opinion stated either for or against abortions, yet, the fanatics will accuse this editorial of being biased to the other side.

Gary Robinson
Marengo, Ind.
April 04, 2018

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Traveling abroad and tainted alcohol


Many Hoosiers are celebrating their kids' spring breaks right now. Others are counting down the days until their breaks begin.

It's an age-old tradition to travel during this time of the year. But, in 2018, as families and college students have been making their plans, they've done so with some frightening headlines shaping them:

"Mexico police shut down second black market tequila operation, investigate if tainted alcohol headed to resorts"

"State Department begins tracking alcohol-related incidents in Mexico"

Mexico isn't alone in earning this bad publicity, though. In the past few years, deaths from contaminated alcohol have been reported in Indonesia, China, Poland and Russia. Methanol — the primary ingredient in windshield wiper fluid — has been reportedly found in some alcohol outside of the U.S.

It leads you to wonder, why don't these things happen here?

According to the Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace, we have few problems with counterfeit and tainted alcohol because of our state-based, three-tier alcohol regulatory system. The constitutional amendment that repealed prohibition gave states the authority to regulate alcohol. Most, including Indiana, adhere to an effective system that requires alcohol to be sold through three separate market tiers: manufacturers/suppliers, local distributors and retailers. This closed distribution system helps prevent adulterated and contaminated products from reaching consumers because alcohol is required to go from a licensed manufacturer to a licensed distributor to a licensed retailer.

Our system of controlled manufacturing, distribution and sales of alcohol in Indiana and throughout the country has worked so well that we often take it for granted. Clearly, it's wise to think twice when someone challenges the three-tier system, because they simply want to make more money.

We only have to look to our neighbors to the south to know how good our system is.

As Hoosiers are enjoying their spring breaks, and legislators are returning home following the end of this year's session, we'd like to thank the many lawmakers who continue to stand up for the health and safety of our families, by digging in and supporting an appropriately strong and state-based system of alcohol regulation.

Jim Purucker, Executive Director of the Wine and Spirits Distributors of Indiana
March 28, 2018

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Response to letter


Mr. Robinson certainly has the right to free political speech and he revealed his thoughts on Feb. 21, 2018, on the People's Forum. He does need a class in respect for his president, starting with his naming him cute little "P.P." He says he received some whippings for lying when he was a kid, and I can believe he might not be over that practice yet. If his parents are around, they need to get the paddle warmed up.

Some of us were taught to respect the office, if not the person. This goes for anyone elected to an office, especially including the highest office in the land. The U.S.A. is the most powerful democracy in the world and have elected persons that have been accused of many failings, even criminal activities. This president is no exception and certainly has not done as many wicked things as some other recent ones have been proven to do. They all seem to get a break in this regard and not really suffer for their sins, no matter how atrocious they are.

His first complaint about this president was that he did not release his tax returns. Some have always thought personal income and earnings are a private thing and they don't care if he ever releases his tax returns. The true politician has been very careful to hide everything in his tax returns that anyone could complain about. How is it that most politicians go to Washington and shortly become millionaires? They have planned and orchestrated to have such clean tax returns they can release them for the gullible public's consumption without worry. Most people who want to see his tax returns are just looking for a mole hill to blow into a mountain of unwarranted trouble for him.

His second complaint has been the issue of voter fraud committed by Hillary. Of course, there is voter fraud. The amount no one knows. It has been proven to exist because some cities have tallied more votes than the population in the city. Who would guess Mr. Robinson would excuse this saying it must be math errors? How come there is so much political resistance with having proper identification when registering to vote? You have to have good I.D. to get on an airplane, so why is voting identification such a hardship? There have been some convicted of voter fraud in Elkhart in the not so distant past.

Alternative facts are probably really lies. It depends upon who has put together the so-called facts and how they stand up to real evidence. It seems this political landscape is full of what must be called lies too often, and discovering the truth is not easy. Getting to the truth is something everyone should desire, but it is obvious alternate facts are generated to just fog up and disguise the truth. Right now, the FBI and DOJ are being closely investigated because of some details they have refused to release promptly. How much is lies we hope the Inspector General will discover and reveal to us.

Mr. Robinson's last item mentioned was that a Democrat will look you straight in the eye and shake your hand, suggesting he is telling the truth. Ask the Democrat why he supports Planned Parenthood, and he will smilingly and without a blink look you in the eye. His party supports killing the unborn and having the dismembered parts sold to the highest bidder. He likes getting the campaign funds from Planned Parenthood, and they are the only political party to receive them. Apparently these people can do no wrong under his view; even long term, up to the time of birth, abortions are OK. This is the worst kind of political backstabber that exists, and we need to stay away from them at all costs.

Charles A. Totten
Leavenworth, Ind.
March 14, 2018

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