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Opinion

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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
The county’s Capital Improvements Board will help fund a study of possible riverfront development, a task that calls for expertise to prevent worsening flooding.

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A lawmaker wants to require Indiana schools to teach cursive writing – as the legislature increases paperless communication.

Restraint wise for capital projects board

For an organization responsible for helping finance major capital projects, the county’s Capital Improvements Board approved a first expenditure that might seem minuscule. But board members are right to start out carefully, and its $50,000 toward the city’s $500,000 study of possible riverfront development could help lead to bigger and long-lasting development on select riverfront spots.

The board was also right to reject a request for $1 million to help pay for the $16 million Indiana Tech Law School building. The board intends to direct its tax revenue to catalyst projects, and the law school building is already heading toward completion. And the board delayed a decision on a request from IPFW for $200,000 to help equip a wireless technology center on the campus.

Many residents are unaware of the board, but it is a new name for a long-established government panel: the former Allen County Convention and Tourism Authority, which previously had as its main responsibility the operations of Grand Wayne Center.

Now, the board also has a steady stream of income from the food and beverage tax – more than $3 million a year – to invest in capital projects to improve the community.

The mayor and county commissioners each appoint three board members, and those six appoint a seventh, who serves as board president. The setup provides for some balance, which is crucial considering the appointed board that does not directly answer to taxpayers has $4 million in the bank and will oversee an estimated $85 million in public tax revenues by 2030.

Current board members have responsibly established solid parameters for use of the money, and this week’s actions were a welcome signal that the board will spend the public’s money carefully.

Handwriting’s on the wall

The spectacle was at least incongruous, if not completely absurd: Lawmakers reading notes on iPads as they debated requiring Indiana schools to teach cursive writing.

Sen. Jean Leising’s bill is a response to the Indiana Department of Education’s decision to no longer require cursive handwriting. Schools aren’t prohibited from teaching it, of course, they just aren’t required.

But the Senate education panel’s use of iPads – an effort to move to paperless communication – certainly underscored why educators are rethinking centuries-old instruction.

“I’ve never had an iPad and never worked on one until this Monday,” said committee chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, at the start of the meeting, “so this is new to me.”

East Allen County Schools Superintendent Karyle Green, who testified before the panel on another bill, noted that students in her district have been using the new technology for more than a year now and that they would be happy to help the legislators.

The committee is expected to vote on Leising’s handwriting bill at its meeting Wednesday.

Lighters worse than knives?

Indiana lawmakers would seem to have signals crossed on a pair of bills filed this session. One would make it legal to sell or possess a switchblade, while another would make it illegal to sell a novelty lighter.

Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, is making a second stab at legalizing automatic knives. Currently, it is a Class B misdemeanor to manufacture, possess, display, offer, sell, lend, give away or purchase knives with blades that open automatically. Many other states have similar restrictions, and it is a violation of federal law to manufacture or sell automatic knives for commercial purposes.

A group called Knife Rights champions legislation to end bans on switchblades. Its website features testimonials from conservative rocker Ted Nugent and NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre, who calls knife rights the “Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment.”

The novelty lighter bill, on the other hand, would make it a Class C infraction to sell or distribute a “toylike lighter,” apparently as a fire safety and prevention move. Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, is the author.

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