Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 12/21/2021 2:00 PM

Terre Haute Tribune-Star. Dec. 15, 2021.

Editorial: Legislature not equipped to oppose vaccine mandates

 

Information about vaccinations to thwart COVID-19 has progressed in tandem with discoveries of new variants. Keeping up with the science is a daunting task for health officials as recommendations seem to change weekly.

Sorting through all of it is a tough task for all Hoosiers but especially for those who have to make choices for children or elderly relatives.

So why would Hoosiers presume that members of the Indiana General Assembly have an up-to-date response to the shape-shifting global pandemic?

Indiana legislators have become mired in tackling vaccinations. (A similar problem arose during the 1918 influenza epidemic when groups of parents refused to inoculate their children.)

The latest chapter began when Gov. Eric Holcomb opposed a mandate by President Joe Biden that would require Americans to get vaccinations against COVID-19 if they work in firms with 100 or more employees.

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Biden's mandate, to be implemented by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, would allow a medical exemption for employees who submit proof of a medical reason to not get vaccinated. An exemption could also be granted 'because of a sincerely held religious belief.' And there's an exemption for people recovering from the coronavirus if they believe in natural immunity.

The mandate, intended to take effect Jan. 4, is on hold as OSHA awaits a U.S. appeals court ruling on challenges to its legality.

Around mid-November, Indiana Republicans proposed a bill that would force businesses to grant exemptions to the vaccination requirement without any questions. The bill also would have blocked immunization rules set by state universities.

We can envision workers at the state's Family and Social Services Agency shaking their heads over the amount of paperwork created by such a misguided bill.

The Indiana General Assembly scheduled a Nov. 29 emergency session to consider the measure, about the time the Omicron variant was showing up in foreign countries. Indiana at that time was averaging 23 deaths a week from the coronavirus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Vaccines offer protection. Hoosiers need to be vaccinated. Those working in health-related professions should be vaccinated. Those working in facilities with 100 or more employees should be vaccinated to avoid spreading the virus to co-workers.

The special legislative session was ultimately canceled, with House Speaker Todd Huston saying, 'We've decided to continue working on these issues through December and tackle legislation at the start of the regular session.'

That is wishful thinking based on a legislative timeline that likely will never match the haphazard calendar for the spread of COVID-19. The Indiana legislature is not set up to be the go-to team for health emergencies. Leaders in the General Assembly are headed toward creating an intricate and confusing bill designed primarily to oppose Biden.

The legislature's Republican leaders came to the edge of the coronavirus cliff, looked down and wisely turned away. If they had jumped into opposing mandates, they would have endangered the safety and health of Hoosiers.

A bill opposing employer mandates is a bad idea. Legislators were right to step away from the bill in November. They would be wise to steer clear of it in January.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. Dec. 18, 2021.

Editorial: Township troubles ... yet another chapter

If Hoosiers need more evidence of the archaic, inefficient and sometimes-corrupt township government system, they can find it in Tippecanoe County.

A felony trial for Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising was underway there last week.

The Democrat is charged with 21 counts of theft for accepting her $35,000-plus trustee salary while not a legal resident of the township. Teising denies the charges.

Prosecutors introduced phone records showing she spent time between June 2020 and March 2021 in Florida and Anderson, Indiana. Earlier reports indicated she was living in a camper in Florida during the COVID-19 lockdown.

She showed up for court Monday wearing a Panama City hoodie and sweatpants.

A Lafayette-area state lawmaker is expected to file a bill that would allow a rogue township trustee to be removed from office. That's a start, but much more is needed.

In 2007, the bipartisan Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, commonly known as the Kernan-Shepard Commission, recommended elimination of township government. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has long been a proponent of consolidation, but the effort has never gained traction because of a powerful lobby of township officials '" more than 4,000 trustees and advisory board members across the state.

Many lawmakers are beholden to the mostly rural, mostly Republican and politically savvy township officials.

As we've long noted, Indiana is stuck with the status quo '" and likely more township scandals '" until legislators can place taxpayer interests before their own reelection prospects.

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Columbus Republic. Dec. 12, 2021.

Editorial: Hoosier hospitality shines for refugees

Hoosiers showed their hospitality in ways that long will be remembered by refugees from Afghanistan who briefly called Camp Atterbury home.

Most of the roughly 7,000 refugees who stayed at the base for a time during Operation Allies Welcome have been resettled by now to their new homes around the country. But our community can take pride in the welcome we gave them. We far outpaced the donations collected at seven other U.S. bases that housed refugees.

'Indiana has accounted for 75% of all the donations in these different safe havens ' It just shows you what Hoosiers will do in a time of need,' Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said last month. 'When we put the call out, U-hauls come running with supplies, and it's really made a huge difference in other people's lives.'

But that's what we do, isn't it? We Hoosiers try our darnedest to make people feel welcome and at home.

As Operation Allies Welcome is set to wind down around the end of the year, most of the giving and calls for donations have ceased as well. We salute the many individual and collective efforts and the state's response to the mission at Atterbury exemplary.

As recently as last week, students at Ivy Tech in Columbus were collecting coats and winter clothing for the newcomers. This was the latest of numerous drives to collect clothing, food, monetary donations and more for those who arrived from Afghanistan with little more than the clothes they wore.

Likewise, veterans and volunteers donated their time and energies to make sure that while our Afghan guests waited to be processed and begin their new lives, they would have at least some of the comforts of home.

And in a fitting epilogue, news came last week that several faith groups in Columbus have banded together to host several Afghan families for at least their first year. These families may not have passed through Camp Atterbury on their journey to the United States, but they most assuredly are in for some Hoosier hospitality.

First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, the Islamic Society of Columbus Indiana, St. Bartholomew Catholic Church and First Christian Church are working with Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc., and Catholic Charities of Indianapolis on a plan to resettle four Afghan families.

'I think that, among us, there was both a sense of a call and a compassion,' said Pastor Dan Cash of First Baptist. 'The people here clearly said, 'We need to do something (to help).' He told the Republic's Brian Blair that the congregation had a history of helping refugees, assisting families who settled in Columbus after the Vietnam War.

Likewise, Ghufran Ahmad, president of the local Islamic society, said members donated clothing, money and supplies to refugees soon after they arrived. 'Donations just poured in because we were so excited to be able to help,' he said.

So many were excited for the chance to help, and those opportunities will continue. These groups representing diverse faith traditions are embracing the mission central to all great faiths: helping their fellow man. And that work will continue when they welcome Afghan families to new homes in Columbus.

Those are some tidings of comfort and joy befitting this holiday season.

END

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