Posts filed under 'General'

Crawford Voter ID Case Heard By Supreme Court

The legal challenge to the much-debated Indiana “Voter ID” law has finally been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

An initial reaction from election law scholar Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog:

“If Justice Kennedy is indeed troubled by certain aspects of the Indiana law (such as the two-trip requirement for indigent voters), the best result from the point of view of discouraging election litigation is to strike down the law, pointing out the flaws with the law, and telling the Indiana legislature to pass a revised law without the objectionable portions. This is what happened, to some extent, with the Georgia voter id law. A court struck it down, pointing to its most vulnerable sections, and the Georgia legislature rewrote the law, making it somewhat less severe.

Some have called this case Bush v. Gore II because of the possible 5-4 split on the Court, with a 5 justice majority seen issuing an opinion that helps Republicans and harms Democrats. I see a different parallel: Just as Bush v. Gore has spawned a great deal of election law litigation (statistics in my earlier cited articles), Crawford too has that potential. It is not a result that would be good for the country.”

Much more commentary is appearing now that oral arguments have concluded. See SCOTUSBlog and Election Law @ Moritz.

2 comments January 9th, 2008

First week finished, and a Committee update

The first week of session has ended after a typically slow start. The filing deadline for legislation in the House is next Tuesday, and many bills are still stuck in drafting or having fiscal impact statements prepared. The most up-to-date list of filed bills in both the House and Senate can be accessed here.

Since many bills have yet to be assigned to committees, legislators typically use the first week seeking co-sponsors for their bills and working to shore up support for their proposals. Once all the bills have been published, the committee schedules will rapidly fill up.

I have scheduled an organizational meeting for the Environmental Affairs Committee next Wednesday. Commissioner Tom Easterly of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has agreed to appear and update the committee members on current IDEM projects, rulemaking, and legislative requests. The meeting will be broadcast live on the internet on Wednesday, January 17, 2006 at 10:30am. You will be able to access the webcast here (click on “Watch video from House Committee Room 156c”).

Let me know if you have any questions you would like the Committee to ask Commissioner Easterly.

2 comments January 11th, 2007

Back in the saddle - the 115th General Assembly

The 115th General Assembly is now officially underway.

I know I have been bad about updating here over the interim, but will try to get back into regular posting during the session.

The first few days of session are mostly administrative. The bill filing deadline for the House is not until the fourth meeting day in January – which I believe is next Monday. So committee chairs do not have much to work with yet as far as scheduling goes.

The House committee chairs met today upon adjournment to discuss general committee policy for the session. The main point of agreement was in re-establishing an orderly business schedule. Last session got a little out of control – bills piled up on the calendar in a spectacular heap that resulted in massive backlogs at various deadline days. Many bills died due to lack of time, in spite of regular late-night session days.

At the committee level, we will likely implement a policy of scheduling committees several days ahead of time to avoid much of the last-minute rush. For example, I am Chairman of the House Environmental Affairs Committee, which meets on Wednesdays. I will be turning in my schedule request by the end of Thursday so members can be notified and bill packets can be prepared on Monday, and the meeting can be announced publicly at least 24 hours ahead of time on Tuesday morning.

The administrative side of the Legislature is not particularly exciting, but a well-run Legislature generally results in better legislation, so I hope some of the changes and tweaks we are making will be effective.

Feel free to leave a comment if there is anything in particular you would like me to post about as the session progresses.

1 comment January 8th, 2007

Taking a little hiatus

I know that things have been slow here at lately, but real-life has kept me somewhat busy and away from the computer.

Like Doug over at Masson’s Blog, Angie and I recently bought a house. It’s a 101 year-old beauty right on the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend. Buying the house, moving in, unpacking, and generally futzing around with the place has absorbed a great deal of my spare time.

Now that we are nicely settled in, we finally have time to take our belated honeymoon. Almost eight months after the wedding, Angie and I are going on our long-planned trip to Europe for two weeks – so I will not be updating here again until August.

In the meantime, if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact my office while I am away.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

5 comments July 19th, 2006

Back from a little break

Over the last few weeks, I took a short break from updating the website, but I am ready to get back to more regular postings.

One of the things I enjoy doing once session has adjourned is visiting schools to talk to classes about state government. A particularly impressive class of 4th graders at St. Monica’s School in Mishawaka has even gone so far as to create their own detailed constitution.

st. monicas 4th grade

They were a great group with many questions, and their constitution is quite a detailed document. You can read the St. Monica’s 4th Grade Constitution here.

Another fun event recently was the annual Achievement Forum Roast in South Bend. I had the (mis)fortune of being subjected to a roasting by my own father, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one on the menu – even former Governor Joe Kernan got his share that night.

achievement forum roast

Angie and I are also in the process of buying a new house, and we are both excited to move in toward the end on the month.

Official business does continue during the summer months, however, and the Environmental Crimes Task Force has already held its first meeting of the interim. I will be posting an update on the progress made at that meeting sometime this week.

In the meantime, please continue to let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Add comment June 6th, 2006

Reflecting on the merits of the “short” session

The “short” legislative session has come to an end for the year. Over the coming weeks I will go over some of the session highlights and lowlights.

Last week I had the opportunity to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the compressed schedule of the short session as a guest on the television show Indiana Lawmakers.

The 30-minute show is available to watch online here. (until Monday, when it will be replaced with the next episode)

Among the topics covered was the possibility of allowing standing committees to meet over the summer to give more consideration to complicated policy issues, encourage more citizen input in the legislative process, and conduct more legislative oversight of the executive branch.

I previously suggested making such a change back in December on this site.

If you have the time to watch the program, feel free to leave a comment or let me know what you think.

Add comment March 16th, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2006

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. We have come a long way since the early days of the Civil Rights movement, and while there is more work to do, it is important for us to reflect upon just how dire the situation was at the time.


While many of Dr. King’s writings and speeches are well-known, one of my favorites has always been “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

1 comment January 16th, 2006

Common Census Map Project

A “Voice of the People” letter in the South Bend Tribune recently contained a link to the Common Census Map Project. The site is an interactive cultural atlas that allows people to contribute information about the communities in which live.

It aims to:

…finally settle the question over exactly where cultural boundaries lie, contribute to the national debate over Congressional redistricting and gerrymandering, and educate people everywhere as to the true layout of the American people that they’ve never seen on any map before.

I found the Indiana map interesting in light of the ongoing debate over time zone boundaries:

common census

If you are so inclined, take a minute to contribute your information to the project.

Add comment January 10th, 2006

Christmas break

xmas treeMy wife and I will be on the road visiting family and taking time to enjoy the season over the next week - so I plan to take a little time off from updating.

However, I will be back after the New Year, ready to tackle the upcoming legislative session.

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings, and a Happy New Year!

1 comment December 23rd, 2005

Two great headines from today’s South Bend Tribune

It seems some South Bend Tribune editors had a good time coming up with headlines today. Here are two stories I got a kick out of:

Elusive bat wounds boy, flees scene
Boy saves bat from cat’s mouth, only to be bitten in return

“A bat in the mouth of a cat was saved by Jonathon Brandy. So the bat then bit the boy, who now must undergo rabies shots.”

Woman appears out of trunk of car

“A good Samaritan who stopped to help a motorist Saturday night… received more than he bargained for when a woman got out of the closed trunk of the car… police determined the woman had stashed herself inside the man’s 2001 Ford Escort without him knowing, just so she could be with him.”

Good stuff.

Add comment December 14th, 2005

State Representative R. “Tiny” Adams

tinyIn what has been a very difficult week for the Indiana Legislature, the House of Representatives has lost another member.

Representative Tiny Adams was another friend of mine. He was an excellent public servant, and a class act who always put his constituents first. He cared deeply for his community, and was a stalwart advocate for working men and women.

I will miss him sitting with me in the back row during caucus meetings, I will miss his passion for the people of Indiana, and I will miss his laugh.

1 comment December 8th, 2005

State Representative Jim Bottorff

jimA good friend and a great Hoosier passed away today.

State Representative Jim Botorrff, of Clark County, was an all-around great guy. He represented his constituents with passion and integrity, and treated everyone he met with respect.

My favorite part about Jim was his dry, southern Indiana humor. If I ever walked past his seat on the floor of the House with too serious a look on my face, he was sure to crack a joke that would make me laugh.

We’ll miss you Jim.

4 comments December 6th, 2005

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