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Furthermore …


Congressman’s Orwellian turn of a phrase

Rep. Marlin Stutzman must not be a fan of George Orwell.

We wonder what Orwell, author of “1984” and “Animal Farm” and a keen observer of how politicians twist language to emphasize political goals over the objective truth, would say about a bill Stutzman has filed.

Legislatures, not the federal government, regulate the conditions under which people in their respective states are permitted to carry handguns in public. Different states have different laws – something tea party conservatives like Stutzman believe the founders wanted.

In Indiana, for example, just about anyone with no criminal convictions or known mental health problems can obtain a permit to carry a gun – for life. In Ohio, obtaining a gun permit is contingent on undergoing a specified amount of training. Pro-gun Texas is even more stringent, requiring training and a shooting range test.

Stutzman wants the federal government to force each state to recognize permits from other states, even though standards may be much different. The name of his bill?

“The Respecting States’ Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013.”

In other words, Stutzman proposes to take away states’ rights with a bill named “Respecting States’ Rights.”

Straight out of “1984.”

Tug-of-war for lawmakers …

Another year, another effort to legalize Sunday carryout sales of alcohol.

Hoosiers would best be served by a debate over the effects of such a move.

Would it be an unnecessary expansion of alcohol sales? Would it reduce drunk driving? Is there discrepancy with the way the state gradually diminished the blue law on by-the-drink sales in restaurants and bars but held the line on carryout?

Lawmakers heard some of those arguments at a Wednesday committee hearing, but make no mistake: This is the continuation of a political battle between groceries and liquor stores. Grocery and drugstores want Sunday sales because they are already open and staffed on Sunday, so alcohol sales would mean more revenue and little additional cost.

Liquor stores, to compete on Sunday, would have to bear the costs of staffing and paying expenses for an additional work day.

If lawmakers change the law, groceries win. If they leave it alone, liquor stores win.

A committee vote could come next week.

… plus sensible moped bill

This page has shown no hesitation to criticize Indiana legislators for authoring too many bills this year that should never become law. Some are ill-considered, some are blatantly unconstitutional and some are, well, just silly.

But give state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, credit for authoring a common-sense proposal to address an ongoing concern: the state’s antiquated, confusing and inadequate laws governing mopeds.

Smith has offered regulations that would still allow people convicted of drunk driving to ride mopeds as an alternative but would require all moped operators to have a moped license. Mopeds would be registered and subject to the motor vehicle tax. All moped operators would have to have proof of insurance or alternative financial responsibility.

The proposed law would make clear that moped operators are bound to follow all traffic rules and must ride on the right except when turning left. Moped operators riding on county highways would also have to display slow-moving vehicle signs.

Finally, the bill would also clarify the somewhat confusing differences in how the law treats “motorized bicycles” and “motorized scooters.”

Smith’s proposal, House Bill 1523, is scheduled to be the subject of a House Roads and Transportation Committee hearing on Monday.

Though not every element of the bill is perfect, it should mark a big step in the right direction.

Vacant Illinois seat draws outside interest

The mayor of the Big Apple apparently wants to extend some of his political influence to the Windy City.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA super-PAC is spending at least $660,000 to buy more than 500 TV commercials in Chicago in an effort to defeat Debbie Halvorson in the upcoming Democratic primary to choose the party’s candidate for the U.S. House seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. The ads criticize Halvorson’s support for the National Rifle Association, while opponent Robin Kelly touts her own support for gun control.

Meanwhile, several news outlets report that Jackson has followed a long line of Chicago politicians – by agreeing to a plea deal regarding illegal use of campaign funds. The federal prison system will have room for him – a space opened up just two weeks ago when former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was released from the federal pen in Terre Haute after serving five years on corruption convictions.