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Furthermore …

One more duty added to lawmakers’ plates

State legislators have a duty to ensure the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is equitably enforcing regulations governing the specialty license plate program. But reviewing each individual plate application has the potential to cross the line of providing needed oversight into micromanagement.

As Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, so aptly explained, “I did not run for the General Assembly to be sitting in a committee picking license plates.”

BMV officials recently announced they would terminate any group plate that doesn’t meet the program’s 500-plate minimum sales requirement. That’s only fair. It may mean that admirable organizations, including IPFW, the Rotary Club and Huntington University, will lose their plates because of lack of sales. But the minimum sales requirement is part of the rules.

The program became controversial when the Indiana Youth Group, a charity that serves gay youth, applied for one of the revenue-generating specialty plates. The specialty-plate program allows nonprofits to sell license plates promoting the charity and to collect a portion of the revenue. There are 92 group plates.

Lawmakers decided to intervene by putting a temporary moratorium on new plate applications and creating the Special Group Recognition License Plate Committee, which met for the first time Tuesday. The group includes four Democratic and four Republican legislators, including Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, who heads the panel.

The committee’s first priority is terminating plates that don’t meet the sales requirement.

The legislative committee also will review any application for new plates and give recommendations to the BMV by September 2014. Then the committee will review existing plates. Those groups will have to reapply under the new guidelines after 10 years.

The legislative committee should not be taking over executive branch duties.

State manufactures most jobs

Indiana’s job growth figures offer more evidence that reports of the death of manufacturing were greatly exaggerated.

Department of Workforce Development figures show that most of the increase in June came from the manufacturing sector, mostly transportation equipment. Jobs in manufacturing grew by 4,300 over the month, the largest single-month increase since August 2004.

The increase made Indiana the national leader in manufacturing-job growth for June. California finished second with 2,600 new jobs.

The manufacturing boost pushed the state’s private-sector employment in June to 2.5 million, with initial claims for unemployment insurance at their lowest levels since 2000.

Manufacturing makes up 16 percent of Indiana’s private-sector jobs. That’s the highest percentage in the nation, but it looks far less troubling in a growing economy.

Now, if Hoosiers could only see a boost in earnings …

Children make gains with help of federal aid

A boost from Uncle Sam can help lift children out of poverty.

A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute found that some government assistance programs, such as Earned Income Tax Credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are effective at reducing child poverty in the United States. According to the study, the tax credit for low-income wage earners kept 6.3 percent or 4.7 million children above the poverty line. SNAP, also known as food stamps, kept 2.9 percent or 2.2 million children out of poverty.

There is one caveat. The organization used the Supplemental Poverty Measure system, which EPI described as “a more comprehensive measure of economic security” than “traditional poverty thresholds.”

Ideologues can quibble over the measuring system, but the study still provides evidence that severe cuts to food stamps would do more harm than good to children.

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