The View from the Legislature

State lawmakers – one from each side of the aisle – weigh in on public access issues as ICOG guest columnists. Read what Sen. Bev Gard, R-Greenfield, says about her bill to kill serial meetings, while Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, writes about hosting field hearings around the state to hear public opinion on transportation issues.

Sen. Beverly Gard on Serial Meetings Law:

Sen. Bev Gard, R-Greenfield

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The third time is the charm.

“Both of these clichés apply to my efforts to pass legislation to address the proliferation of serial meeting and other public access issues.

“As a former city council member I have often seen how local officials use a loophole to avoid the intent of the Open Door Law, which is to do public business in view of the public. In addition to units of local government, serial meetings have been used by entities such as the Indiana University Board of Trustees, the White River State Park Commission and local school boards.”

Read Sen. Gard’s entire column on the serial meetings bill.
Rep. Terri Austin on the need for more government field hearings:

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson

“In November of 2006, Governor Daniels announced two major transportation initiatives that would have impacted thousands of Hoosiers in central and northern Indiana. The Indiana Commerce Connector and the Illiana Expressway were proposed as new Interstate-quality toll roads in an effort to divert passenger and freight traffic from highly-congested areas in three northern counties and five central Indiana counties. The construction and operation of both roads were proposed through a popular public-works financing tool – public-private partnerships (P3).

“As the newly appointed chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee, I felt compelled to give the citizens most affected by these proposals an opportunity to express their views, receive accurate information, and engage in a civil dialogue about the merits and concerns of the legislation advancing these proposals, also known as Senate Bill 1.  Holding public field hearings in each county of the proposed roadway seemed like the logical next step.”

Read Rep. Terri Austin’s entire column on holding field hearings around the state.