When the Indiana General Assembly begins in a few weeks, the budget will be number one, two and three on their agenda. At least that's what legislative leaders are saying. It is the long session year, and the year when the legislature is supposed to pass a budget for the next two years.
Nevertheless, legislative specialist Bob Kraft with Indiana Farm Bureau says other issues will likely come up during the session. One of those may be a proposal to continue to streamline government, and eliminate more local government positions. Most rural townships no longer have county assessor. Instead, the county assessor is responsible for that task. This happened in an earlier legislative session.
This time, expect trustees and township advisory boards to be targeted. The advisory boards primarily give advice to the trustees. A township trustee is still the primary person who heads up poor relief in the township. He or she also is charged with upkeep of a cemetery that has no other means of support. They're also responsible for fire protection, which is an issue of growing controversy in its own right in some communities.
Some state leaders feel money could be saved and government services streamlined if these positions were eliminated. Some also want consolidation of smaller schools with larger schools at the same time. All of these issues further tear down the fabric of rural communities, some believe.
"Indiana Farm Bureau opposes doing away with trustee positions," Kraft state flatly. "Our membership is in favor of local control. Taking away thee positions would certainly remove another element of local control."
The legislature begin deliberations the first week of January. This time both houses will be controlled by the Republicans. However, it remains to be seen what that may mean for the future of various bills, Kraft notes. Already, the Democrats have been recognized by being awarded some leadership committees by the Republican leaders in control.
Look for more on this issue in the future.