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January 14, 2013

EDITORIAL: Speak up, don’t be shy

Lawmakers need to hear from their constituents

TERRE HAUTE — Each year, as Hoosier lawmakers converge on Indianapolis to begin their legislative work, we urge the public to engage in the policy debate and share their views on issues of the day.

More than ever in 2013, that message must be reaffirmed. There are Republican super majorities in both the House and Senate, and the governor’s office is also held by a Republican. While voters chose this course in the fall 2012 elections, it’s important for those with this unrestricted political power to understand and act in a way that ensures that all voices are being heard, not just the loudest voices in their own party.

The only way to do that is for citizens, no matter what party philosophy they prefer or how they come down on issues, to stay in touch with their legislators and let them know they expect them to be fair to all sides and to serve the interests of the entire state.

The opening session of the 118th General Assembly began last week. The primary legislative business this year — adopting a biennial budget — will be completed in this session, which will last 60 session days spanning about four months.

But other important policy matters will be considered as well in areas such as economic development, job creation, education and a host of other issues. Where you stand on these issues can only be gauged if you speak out and let your lawmakers know your opinions.

We expect all sectors of the political spectrum to be aggressive, but we also expect them to remain cooperative and civil. If that occurs, Indiana can be an example of what’s right in the public sphere rather than emulating the broken system we see operating in the U.S. Congress these days.

Public input remains an important ingredient for the Legislature. Special interests spend mountains of money to influence lawmakers. But individual citizens need not be intimidated. It’s easy to contact legislators. We encourage you to do so. Here’s how:

• Members of the Indiana House of Representatives can be reached by phone at 1-800-382-9842.

• Members of the Indiana Senate can be reached at 1-800-382-9467.

• The mailing address for representatives and senators is 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.

• If you have online access, there is a wealth of information, including email addresses, about the General Assembly and related services at www.IN.gov/legislative.

Lawmakers work for you. Don’t be shy about letting them know your opinions.

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