April 20, 2014

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Columns
Do as your MOTHER says! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erika Schmidt Russell   
Monday, March 31, 2014 3:38 PM

Dear Winter,
You know I love you, right? Well I think it is high time you gave up your petulant hold on a very large portion of the United States, and let your sister Spring have her turn.

You had a lot of fun this year, more fun than usual, which is why you really must cease and desist. Winter, dear son of mine, you shut down Atlanta! That’s quite something, and quite humorous, although not to that city’s residents.

You made it snow in Florida and Alabama! Also quite a coup, however references to hell freezing over by certain Yankee-type folks were not appreciated by Alabamans.

You’ve repeatedly closed major airports on the U.S. East Coast, far more times than you usually do. School children actually were tired of having snow days, so it has a been a banner year for you, yet you continue to loiter where you are not wanted.
Washington, D.C. is trying to have its Cherry Blossom Festival, and you’re freezing it out.

It is high time you stop playing with your Polar Vortex and putting it where it is not wanted.
Your conduct is bordering on the rude, my son. I also must remind you what happens when you continue to linger, Spring gets very unhappy. She is my most fickle and difficult child, and like you enjoys havoc, only in the form of thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods. People are not too fond of her either, but they more readily forgive her because she’s warm and can be quite friendly bringing people flowers etc.

However, because you are lingering she’ll try the same thing, and then Summer and Fall will be all out of sorts as well this year. When it becomes your turn again in

December, you may not get as long of a turn, because your brother Fall will want to stick around  as well.
So son, if you don’t start behaving and let Spring have her turn soon, your Father and I will have to do something about it.

Thank you, my dear son.

As always your loving,
Mother Nature

P.S. I know you’re not happy with the humans messing up the overall climate, but this Winter tantrum does not convince them that there is real climate change. With some of them it does quite the opposite because they can’t separate weather from climate. So my son, this is your last chance.
P.P.S Letting Spring sneak in and have a nice day for Reds Opening Day does not count! You’re overly tired and really need to go have a nice nap.

Erika Schmidt Russell is editor of The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register.

 
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by Suzzi Romines   
Friday, March 28, 2014 1:53 PM

Prevent Child Abuse of Dearborn/Ohio Counties, Inc. is hosting, participating, or promoting several events to recognize the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention. In our nation, the basic needs and well-being of our children should be at the top of our lists of what we can all do individually and collectively for brighter futures for everyone. With such a turbulent economy, budget cuts for companies and organizations, many of our families, including children, our future leaders’ lives are being affected.

Prevent Child Abuse recognizes these trying times, but continues to have a strong commitment to the health and well-being of all children. During the month of April, several organizations have planned events to educate parents, kids, professionals and all community members on the importance of abuse prevention. Please plan to attend the following events: Indiana Dept. of child Services and PCA’s “Pinwheels for Prevention Garden Ceremony”, Newtown Park, Lawrenceburg on Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. (alternate location/Lawrenceburg Community Center).

Thursday, April 10, DIRECTIONS Rape Crisis Support and Advocacy’s “Take Back the Night,” 5:30 p.m. at the Dearborn Adult Center, Tate St., Lawrenceburg. SIEOC will host their annual child abuse prevention conference: ”Sticks and Stones, The Power of our Words” on Saturday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to  3 p.m. at Ivy Tech Community College/Riverfront campus. Churches around the country will also participate in “Blue Sunday Day of Prayer” on Sunday, April 27 to pray for abuse children and those who rescue them. Please contact each organization for further information and registration.

Prevent Child Abuse will also host their traveling pinwheel display throughout Dearborn and Ohio Counties and work within schools on poster contests among hundreds of students to bring awareness to bullying prevention, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and the neglect of a child’s basic needs.

PCA meets the first Wednesday of the month at the SIEOC office in Aurora from noon to 1 p.m. and all are welcome to attend. If you suspect abuse or neglect, call the Indiana hotline at 1-800-800-5556 or 911 in an emergency.


Suzzi Romines Prevent Child Abuse of Dearborn/Ohio Counties, Inc.

 
Building an America that Works PDF Print E-mail
Written by Luke Messer   
Monday, March 24, 2014 4:09 PM

I was raised by a single mom who still works at the Delta Faucet factory in Greensburg. Like many Hoosier families, the end of the month wasn’t always easy for us. Sometimes, there were more days left in the month than money in the bank. But, my mom taught my brother and me the value of hard work, the importance of setting goals and never giving up. Because we lived in America, she knew we could accomplish anything we set our minds to.

Sadly, many Americans do not believe that’s the case anymore. A recent Bloomberg Poll found 64-percent of Americans say the U.S. no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead. Some blame the income gap. But, that’s only part of the problem. Our most pressing challenges are shrinking paychecks, a lack of good paying jobs and government overreach.

Despite the President’s rhetoric, he’s not tackling these challenges. Instead, the Obama Administration’s policies are leaving the middle class behind. Last week’s jobs report showed 3.8 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

The President’s solution is to extend unemployment benefits. This may help a few people temporarily. But, instead of focusing on economy growing, job creating solutions, the President wants us to accept a stagnant economy and higher unemployment as the “new normal.”

House Republicans reject this idea, and we are working to do something about it. The House has passed dozens of bills that would help the unemployed find work and spur economic growth.

Most of these bills continue to languish in the U.S. Senate under the threat of a Presidential veto.
Spiking energy costs have hit many Hoosier families in the pocketbook and at the gas pump.

That’s why the House passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, and the Northern Route Approval Act.

Both bills promote America’s energy independence and create tens of thousands of jobs. March 12th marked 2,000 days since the first permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project was submitted for approval.

Currently, 24 applications for U.S. exports of natural gas are sitting at the U.S Department of Energy waiting for a green light. These delays increase domestic energy costs and shrink paychecks.

Equally troubling, this Administration’s regulatory policies are drowning small businesses in red tape. Last week, the House passed 14 bills to eliminate or reform burdensome laws and regulations and increase government transparency. The estimated cost of federal regulations in the U.S. is $1.806 trillion annually.

That’s 11.6 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. These excessive regulations waste taxpayer dollars and create unnecessary hurdles to economic growth and job creation.

Worse yet, the President’s health care law is a job killing disaster. Some Hoosiers are seeing their work hours cut and many are facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the Affordable Care Act will shrink the workforce by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024.

It’s time for the President to stop circumventing Congress and making piecemeal changes to the law. This uncertainty is making it harder for employers to hire new workers and keep the ones they have. We need to go line by line through the President’s health care law and get rid of the failures that are hurting the economy and holding back real progress toward making health care more affordable.

It’s time to get Washington out of the way at the doctor’s office, in the job market and at the gas pump. We need real reforms that will truly help Americans, like my mom, who are working hard every day to make ends meet.

Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, is Indiana’s Sixth District Congressional Representative. The district includes Dearborn and Ohio counties.

 
Successful session comes to a close PDF Print E-mail
Written by Randy Frye   
Monday, March 17, 2014 4:29 PM

Leadership is about setting a vision and benchmarking goals. I was pleased that the House Republican caucus set the right tone for this session and successfully accomplished our goals that we laid out in January. We set our sights on the business personal property tax, funding for roads, bridging the skills gap, preschool education and reducing government regulation.

With the business personal property tax, Indiana is an outlier on this issue, having the highest business personal property tax rate in the Midwest.

We also recognized however that simply removing the tax could have serious consequences to some of our local governments. That’s why we proposed giving counties options to eliminate the business personal property tax on new investments.

The bill that passed includes other tax reforms like phasing down the corporate income and financial institution tax rates to 4.9 percent; the state’s corporate income tax rate would be the second lowest in the country once fully phased in.

All of these reforms are meant to give counties more options to attract businesses and jobs to their community.
Being business-friendly is not just about taxes though, it’s also having a very closely connected infrastructure system that is highly functional. In Indiana, 1.7 million jobs depend on transportation in industries such as tourism, retail sales and agriculture.

That’s why the House passed House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1002 to provide up to $400 million in additional funding for state highway construction projects. Our state’s focus on fiscal integrity allowed us to prudently allocate these additional funds now, supporting thousands of Hoosier jobs.
Structure is only the first step when it comes to job creation – a workforce is also key. More than 930,000 Hoosiers lack the most basic job skills needed for today’s economy.

HEA 1003 provides additional incentives to employers who partner with education institutions to provide internships in high wage, high demand jobs.  
Many Hoosier corporations have noted that a strong educational start helps in addressing future educational needs.

Children who aren’t ready for kindergarten are half as likely to read proficiently by third grade, and children who aren’t reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

This is a problem in Indiana because we are one of only 10 states without a state-funded preschool education system. This makes it extremely challenging, and often impossible, for Hoosier families that are facing hard times to send their children to preschool. We championed HEA 1004 which creates a pilot preschool program.

The program will be limited to families who earn 127 percent of the poverty level or less, and children in the program must attend a high-quality preschool. Thanks to this innovative solution, more Hoosier children will have access to quality preschool education than ever before.

While it is important for the legislature to pass new laws and statutes dealing with current problems, we sometimes neglect another important responsibility of the legislature – to review duplicative code and unnecessary government restrictions that may have been enacted previously. HEA 1005 addresses this by removing duplicative code and works to alleviate Hoosier citizens and businesses from burdensome regulations.

This session has been one of tremendous success, and I look forward to building upon this progress next session. I appreciate all of your feedback and contact on many of these issues, and I look forward to being back in our district during the interim.

Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, represents Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Ripley, Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.

 
Hey, Gov.: leave our money alone PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erika Schmidt Russell   
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 6:27 PM

Replacement revenue. That’s what the Indiana General Assembly sees when it looks at the cities and towns hosting casinos. At the top of the list is good ol’ Lawrenceburg.

Lawrenceburg had the most money rolling in out of all of the casinos, that money however wasn’t all tax revenue. Two-thirds of it was from the highly lucrative development agreement.

That development agreement guaranteed the city a nice chunk of cash based on the casino’s overall profits, last year the dollar figure was $23.4 million. It had nothing to do with taxes. So while the city took a hit with changes to the gaming laws, it didn’t take as big of a hit as Rising Sun/Ohio county.

I’ve done the math for everyone before, but here’s a reminder. Lawrenceburg, historically, has given away about 53 percent of its money.

With all that money, of course there has been mismanagement by recipients through the various sharing and grant programs and by the city itself. But let’s stop for a moment and look at some of the mismanagement of the big dollars.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels has friends with a concept, they want to build a new type of police car, and they’re going to do it at a former Visteon plant in Connersville, Ind. After helping Lawrenceburg protect its riverboat gambling cash, by having the city “voluntarily” share its money with 10-counties in southeastern Indiana, the governor has his friends’ business, Carbon Motors, apply for a grant.

Said grant was awarded, and the money given to the tune of $5 million. The jobs aren’t there, and neither is the $5 million. You don’t have to take my word for it, The Indianapolis Star reported on it last year. You can draw your own conclusions.

Of course that wasn’t the only interesting tidbit involving Lawrenceburg’s money. The governor’s office appoints some members to the grant review committee.

One of those appointed was 68th District Rep. Jud McMillin. He had been a part owner in a building, and his family was involved with a group called Destination Brookville. He did not divulge his or his family’s involvement in DB at the initial committee meeting reviewing a $600,000 grant for the group. It wasn’t until later that the information came to light, and the initial grant was stopped.

McMillin wasn’t alone, however, in being a state representative and having family involved in projects benefiting from Lawrenceburg’s largesse.

Former State Rep. Bob Bischoff had a son and a brother-in-law involved with projects aided by the city, and State Sen. Johnny Nugent sold his business to a company getting help from a Lawrenceburg program.

The Brookville company buying Nugent’s tractor business, Zimmer Tractor, was legally represented by Jud McMillin’s father. The Star had this as well, but you might have missed it. Unlike some other deals/businesses in the 10-county grant program, at least Zimmer Tractor is a business with a proven track record and has deep roots in the Franklin and Dearborn county communities.

While those high profile, legislator-connected misteps remain an issue, the governor and General Assembly should remember there have been many other recipients of the grants that have been and are successful. Among them is the first grant recipient, Greensburg for infrastructure improvements so Honda could locate a factory there. Other recipients include Greendale for Fortis Security and Bed Techs; Dillsboro for Multiple Machining; Osgood for Solar Zentrum North America.

So, when it comes to looking at Lawrenceburg or other casino communities, as a replacement revenue source for making up the missing money due to a change in business or other taxes, Governor Pence and the General Assembly ought to look no farther than the pockets of various friends, donors, and of course representatives themselves.

But using a few alleged misdeeds to radically change the way of life for these riverboat communities is unfair, as is stripping local authority in favor of state authority as is the case with proposed legislation changing port authorities and redevelopment commissions.

Indiana’s Republican dominated government, with control of the governor’s office and both houses of the General Assembly, wants it all their way.

The State of Indiana is not Burger King. Republicans cannot say one day they want small government and complain about the federal government and its mandates, and then turn around to take away local authority not to mention local funds.

Instead of repealing one tax and changing another and capping another, Indiana needs to take a step back and look at comprehensive tax reform.

Hoosier taxpayers, however, from one of the state to the other need to be engaged in the process.

Priorities and needs in Lawrenceburg or Moores Hill or Vevay or rural Franklin County are different than priorities and needs in Carmel or Mishawaka or Delaware County.

Erika Schmidt Russell is editor of The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register.