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Variety of questions aimed at Robertson, Young

Variety of questions aimed at Robertson, Young
Variety of questions aimed at Robertson, Young
Indiana Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, answers a question Saturday morning as Indiana Sen. Richard Young waits his turn at the Legislative Update co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County and the Harrison County Farm Bureau. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

The snow-covered roads early Saturday morning did little to deter eager attendees curious for an update on current legislation and to have a chance to question elected state officials on other matters.
The Superior Courtroom at the Harrison County Justice Center in Corydon was filled to capacity for, at times, a heated discussion that went nearly 30 minutes longer than scheduled.
The courtroom hosted the Legislative Update with Indiana Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, and Indiana Sen. Richard Young, D-Milltown, co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County and the Harrison County Farm Bureau and moderated by the bureau’s legislative coordinator, Peter J. Schickel.
Jim Klinstiver of Laconia opened the session with questions concerning what he called ‘the farmer’s plight.’
Klinstiver, who has met recently with the county commissioners to discuss county resources and small towns, said he would like to see an agricultural business park in the county. He also said the county’s natural gas should stay in the county and be used at a commercial or industrial site.
‘Most of it is exported out of the county,’ he said. ‘We need to capture some of our natural resources.’
Both Young and Robertson said the state can do more to promote agricultural growth.
Next, Ron Haendiges of Ramsey asked the legislators why, in this difficult economic climate, is the state providing Planned Parenthood with $1.4 million.
‘I’m against tax dollars being used to abort somebody else’s baby,’ Haendiges said.
Robertson, who said he’s very pro-life and stands by his record on the issue, said Planned Parenthood does a lot more than encourage people to get an abortion.
‘The money is put into Planned Parenthood because they do a lot of good,’ Robertson said.
Haendiges asked if Indiana Right to Life was dropping its endorsement of Robertson.
‘Indiana Right to Life has not supported a Democrat for a couple of years,’ Robertson responded.
Haendiges also asked about morality in Indiana schools and wondered why Jesus had been taken out of the schools and some ‘Eastern religions’ were being studied and taught in the libraries.
Sam Gardner, interim superintendent at Lanesville Community School Corp., in attendance along with Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent at South Harrison Community School Corp., said he was not aware of any programs that were promoting any non-Christian beliefs.
‘For anyone to come in here and say differently is absolutely incorrect,’ Gardner said to a smattering of applause.
Haendiges also took the opportunity to take a shot at Congressman Baron Hill, who represents the Ninth District in Indiana. He said there’s a candidate that’s going to beat Hill this fall. Hill again became the topic of discussion near the end of the meeting when George Ethridge of New Salisbury complimented Robertson and Young for their availability and for getting back with him whenever he had a question, unlike Hill. Ethridge said he called Hill multiple times with no response and even went to his office, but the representative wasn’t there.
At this point, Adam Dickey, field representative for Hill, couldn’t bite his tongue any longer.
‘That’s probably because he’s in Washington five days a week,’ Dickey said. ‘Sunday is the only day he takes for himself to be with his family.’
Dickey said it is troubling that phone calls were not returned by someone at Hill’s office.
‘I’m available,’ Dickey said. ‘We’ll sit down and meet with you.’
Ethridge said he would like to find out why he has been unable to reach Hill and to have the situation corrected.
‘He’s an elected official,’ Ethridge said.
Ethridge also discussed having a uniform start date for Indiana schools, which recent legislation suggested.
Robertson said he would have a difficult time supporting such a bill. He said it should be left up to the schools and what works best for them.
‘I do not want to become the school board for Indiana,’ he said.
Mauckport resident Norman Dennison asked Young and Robertson about a bill that would give counties the option to impeach or discharge a sheriff or any elected official.
‘Especially with what has occurred here,’ Dennison added.
Young said a provision or bill regarding the issue was introduced, but it had too many flaws to receive a hearing. He did say there are provisions in the Indiana Constitution for impeachment.
Other items discussed included the constitutional amendment regarding property tax caps to be voted on in November (both legislators expressed disapproval of the amendment), redistricting, the Kernan-Shepard report, ethics reform, public access (House Bill 1075), the protection of riverboat gaming funds, the ‘great recession’ (Robertson’s title for the current recession), budget cuts and elected versus appointed sewer district boards.
Attendees were treated to fruit, doughnuts and coffee prior to the update.