Political Notebook

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Pence on guard for 'logrolling'

Way back before Mike Pence was governor or even congressman, he was a citizen who challenged state legislators for violating the single-subject provision of the Indiana Constitution.

That experience has him watching legislation that comes to his desk very closely.

"There are large issues that ought to have a standalone vote and the governor ought to be given an opportunity to say yay or nay," Pence said. "Things should not be unnecessarily combined and if I see where they are we'll express ourselves in the legislative process about that."

Legislative logrolling is infamous in the Capitol, though to be fair it happens much less than it used to. The general concept involves combining together into one bill several unrelated proposals to get the votes needed to pass the measure.

In the past, major gambling provisions have found themselves in the budget. Or redistricting of legislative districts has co-mingled with school funding.

Indiana Law Blog author Marcia Oddi noted in a 2001 Res Gestae paper that the last time the Indiana Supreme Court used the one subject matter limitation to invalidate a law was forty years ago, in 1971.

"Although a number of legislative acts have been challenged on the same basis since 1971, none has been held by the Court to violate the one subject matter prohibition. The direction the Court has taken in recent years is one of reluctance to intervene in the activities of a co-equal branch of government," Oddi wrote.

There has always been a single-subject limitation though it has been revised several times. The current language was changed in 1974 and reads, "An act, except an act for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject and matters properly connected therewith."

Pence in 1995 sued over a bill that included language involving compliance for the Americans with Disabilities Act and lawmakers' pensions. The suit didn't move forward due to standing, according to Oddi.

"The Supreme Court has spoken on that. I do believe that the spirit of that provision of the Constitution has continued to be adhered to by the General Assembly in the years that have followed and should continue to be," he said.

To contact Niki Kelly email her at nkelly@jg.net or follow her on Twitter @nkellyatJG.