- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. May 26, 2016

State must close campaign contribution limit loophole.

One is a Bible-thumping conservative. The other a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. They and their agendas could hardly be more different from each other.

Democratic challenger John Gregg and Republican incumbent Gov. Mike Pence are locked in a tight and historically significant battle to win Indiana’s gubernatorial election in November. The outcome will have a dramatic impact on the direction of state policy, taxpayer money, social programs, education, economic development and a host of other concerns affecting Hoosiers’ quality of life and the state’s future.

So it should be highly disconcerting to Hoosiers to know that big money, hidden behind limited liability corporations and political action committees and coming mostly from out of state, is pulling the candidates’ strings and bankrolling their campaigns.

According to an Associated Press article, Pence and Gregg have filled their war chests with, combined, about $18 million, putting their race on course to be one of the most costly in state history. Of about $13 million contributed to their campaigns since Jan. 1, more than $4.5 million, or about 35 percent, has come from contributors masked by LLCs and PACs.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, in most of the country it’s not.

Indiana is one of just 13 states that place no limitations on campaign contributions that come from LLCs and PACs. And Hoosier candidates for the past several elections have taken advantage of largesse from the unnamed to wage their campaigns, meaning the public would have difficulty tracing who is supporting the candidates - and to whom the candidates are accountable.

Indiana law caps campaign contributions from corporations and workers’ unions at $5,000 annually, but such entities can still contribute millions by seeking PAC or LLC shelter, thereby continuing to exert their self-serving influences.

Most of these are controlled by interests outside the state of Indiana. Pence’s largest donation, $1.6 million, came from a Washington-based PAC funded by the Republican Governors Association. Gregg’s campaign has a windfall of about $1.4 million from a combination of six out-of-state labor union PACs and the Democratic Governors’ Association.

State legislators must work hard and in good faith, with sound public policy in mind, to close this state law loophole that enables out-of-state unions and corporations to stuff the purses of candidates for governor and other offices.___

The (Munster) Times. May 25, 2016

Feds need concerted effort in steel dumping fight.

We’ve seen some victories in recent attempts to level the playing field and bolster the American steel industry, upon which much of Northwest Indiana’s fortunes still rely.

But there’s still a long way for our federal government to go in staving off effects of the dumping of cheap Chinese and other foreign steel into our markets.

The practice of these foreign companies infusing illegally subsidized steel - for less than it could be sold in their home countries - into the U.S. economy has shown detrimental results.

China alone has caused an international steel import crisis that has caused more than 13,000 layoffs in the United States, according to industry experts.

We were encouraged last week when the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its desire to slap tariffs as high as 522 percent on Chinese steel to attack this epic problem.

The federal government plans to impose new duties on cold-rolled steel imports - the type that goes into cars and appliances. This is one of the major products made at Northwest Indiana steel mills, so this federal action helps many of our workers and their families.

We’re also encouraged Gov. Mike Pence has joined the conversation, asking U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to investigate a series of allegations made by U.S. Steel regarding violations of international trade laws by China.

And U.S. House Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., continues his long-fought crusade against these trade injustices. Last week, he helped secure a requirement that the U.S. Department of Defense only buy certain products that are made in America, including steel.

But as of earlier this week, Visclosky still awaited an answer to a request he made earlier this month for a meeting with President Barack Obama on the matter.

The White House needs to take this trade matter seriously and bring all of its resources to bear. Obama certainly should meet with Visclosky, vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, and the caucuses Chairman Tim Murphy.

For all of the noise and rhetoric in politics - often revolving around social issues that effect small percentages of our population - unfair practices in the steel trade hold a wide impact over many lives and families.

It’s time for a concerted effort from Washington.___

South Bend Tribune. May 25, 2016

An appeal to the notion of open government.

Consumer advocacy groups and professional journalism organizations concerned about a recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling on lawmaker emails are asking the court to reconsider that decision.

It’s an appeal that anyone who cares about open government should support.

In April, the high court ruled that although Indiana legislators are subject to the state’s public access law, ordering release of lawmaker email communications with lobbying groups and businesses violates the state constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government.

Not surprisingly, that decision and its possible repercussions set off alarms. Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association, noted that if the judiciary accepts this position, it could “eviscerate the Access to Public Records Act,” because every agency would make the same result.

Such worries were quickly borne out when Gov. Mike Pence referred to the ruling in arguing he should not be required to release documents tied to a separate lawsuit. In filings a few days after the Supreme Court ruling, Pence lawyers said that “Just as the judiciary should not ‘intermeddle’ with the legislature’s determination of what constitutes its own work product, the judiciary should not ‘intermeddle’ with the executive’s determination of what constitutes its own work product, deliberative material or privileged material.”

The groups filing the appeal are requesting that the court reconsider its decision, which they say could be used by other branches that do not want to release records. They also asked the court to rule that emails sent between Rep. Eric Koch and the paid lobbyists or energy utilities must be released.

The high court’s ruling, which allows lawmakers to withhold their communications with lobbying groups and businesses, also opens the door to further attempts to keep the people’s business shrouded in secrecy. We support this appeal to reverse a devastating blow to the public’s right to know.___

The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. May 26, 2016

Brief welcome of Hale to the campaign will and should turn into spirited debate.

The battle has been joined.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg named State Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, as his running mate Wednesday. That’s the team that will take on incumbent Gov. Mike Pence and Lieutenant Gov. Eric Holcomb in the November race for the state’s top job.

It’s going to be an intense and heated campaign. But for one moment in time Wednesday it was not. Pence acknowledged Gregg’s pick with this statement: “Congratulations to Rep. Christina Hale on her selection to join the Democrat ticket. We welcome her to the race and look forward to a spirited debate about continuing Indiana’s job growth and soaring economic future.”

Don’t expect the cordial underpinnings of the statement to continue. OK, so there was a little politicking with the mention of “job growth and soaring economic future.” But on balance, it was a gracious welcome.

Hoosiers should look forward to spirited debate on the economy, to be sure. But spirited debate must also be ahead on public education, higher education, infrastructure, equal rights for all Hoosiers, transparency in government, environmental policy and a range of other issues.

Is the state going in the right direction? Are you proud to say you’re from Indiana? Those, too, are questions that should be asked.

We’ve waited long enough.

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