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March 1, 2013

EDITORIAL: The whims of ideologues

Seeking a constitutional convention colossal waste of lawmakers’ time

TERRE HAUTE — The opening session of the Indiana General Assembly has reached its halfway point. For the most part, state lawmakers have done what Hoosiers wanted them to do: focus on keeping the state’s finances sound, economy solid and educational system improving.

There have been disagreements, to be sure. But the most striking one has occurred within the Republican Party, which is understandable considering the GOP holds the governor’s office and has super majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

Gov. Mike Pence wants to give Hoosier taxpayers a big tax reduction. Legislative leaders don’t think that’s wise and have crafted a budget that does not include a tax cut.

It’s a worthwhile debate to have. There’s a long way to go, and we’re sure the issue will get a full hearing.

While lawmakers have largely remained on task, there have been signs in recent days that social and ideological issues won’t remain entirely in the background. That’s too bad. But, it bears repeating, there are GOP super majorities in both chambers, so hard-core members of the right can’t be completely disregarded.

Among the stark examples of right-wing mischief emerging this week in the state Senate was promoted, no less, by Republican President Pro Tem David Long. He managed to get the Senate to approve his resolution seeking a federal constitutional convention.

Long’s resolution calls for such a convention to focus on limiting the powers of the federal government, mainly restricting Congress’ ability to tax and regulate interstate commerce.

We assume Long is proud of himself for initiating this resolution, despite far more pressing issues facing the General Assembly. But at the core of his effort rests nothing more than a personal, ideological victory that is, in essence, a monumental waste of time.

Even if Long can convince the House to go along, it remains a meaningless exercise. Thirty-three more states would have to call for such a convention, which has never happened before in U.S. history.

There are approximately two months to go in this session. There may be more of this kind of silliness to come. We can only hope saner leadership will prevail and keep it to a minimum. There are real issues to tackle. Precious time and resources need not be frittered away on the whims of ideologues.

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