To the point week of 02-14-08

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THE DECISION BY THE INDIANA LEGISLATURE to remove the portion of the bill that would have created a new judicial district here in Switzerland County was a surprising one.

Supporters of the bill had been told throughout the process that the bill was on the fast track to approval, and even State Representative Bob Bischoff seemed surprised when we spoke about the situation in the stands at last Thursday night’s Switzerland County-Lawrenceburg boys basketball game.

According to Representative Bischoff, everything in the bill that would have cost the state of Indiana money was removed before it went forward. Because establishing a new judicial district here would have cost the state money – the legislature pays the salary of the judge and prosecuting attorney – it was dropped.

Representative Bischoff, who has supported the legislation as it passed through the House, says that there is a possibility that the provision could be resurrected later in the short session, it seems unlikely in an election year that state officials are going to add to the state’s fiscal bills.

I guess we should applaud legislators who removed the wording from the bill if they are truly concerned with adding to state funding, but I have to believe that other measures that added “new money” to the state budget moved right on through.

Is this an election year ploy? Or is this being fiscally responsible?

Here’s an idea: let’s do what’s best for the people.

I believe that the establishment of a separate judicial district here in Switzerland County best serves all of Southeastern Indiana – not just this county. The new district would free up the judicial circuit in Jefferson County do handle more of the work there; and also clarifies the court situation in Dearborn and Ohio counties.

It makes little sense for Switzerland County to share a circuit court judge and prosecutor with Jefferson County – while sharing a superior court judge with Ohio County – which in turn shares their circuit court and prosecutor with Dearborn County.

The current situation can’t possibly simplify the judicial system, which creates not only confusion – but by its very nature, it also breeds distrust in the system.

Switzerland County’s state representation – Representative Bischoff and State Senator Jim Lewis – are supportive of this legislation, but they need more support to help put this back on track.

Those who want to see this happen need to send their support to our state legislators so that they can share our support with their fellow legislators.

Now is the time to stop talking about how wonderful this would be and take action to make sure it becomes a reality.