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June 20, 2013

BRADNER: Pence’s stands, vision frustrate legislators

He doesn’t seem to care what lawmakers tell him is practical

INDIANAPOLIS —

As lawmakers returned to the Statehouse for a single vote last week, their decision to override one of Gov. Mike Pence’s vetoes served to underscore two of the Indiana political landscape’s new realities.

The Republican-dominated General Assembly perceives Pence to sometimes ignore the practicality of his ideological positions and of when he decides to weigh in on issues, and can grow frustrated as a result of that.

And Pence doesn’t seem to care what lawmakers tell him is practical. He appears to have decided he is willing to go down swinging, even when doing so puts him at risk of being cast as politically weak or ineffective.

This was on display last week as lawmakers traveled back to the capitol for a one-day, one-vote meeting. It was the first time they’d ever used their “technical corrections” day to override a veto.

The bill Pence had rejected would have retroactively authorized $6 million worth of local-option income tax collections in Jackson and Pulaski counties.

These weren’t new taxes. They’d been legally authorized at one point, but also contained automatic sunset provisions. Those sunset dates came and went, but no one noticed; county-level officials forgot to reauthorize the taxes and the Indiana Department of Revenue forgot to stop collecting them.

In vetoing the bill, Pence said he considered that taxation unlawful and said those taxpayers should be reimbursed. Legislators, though, said that literally no one in those communities was complaining about the taxes, and that the revenue is being used to pay for the operation of local jails.

State Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman put lawmakers’ take well while discussing the veto override vote on the Senate floor.

“In the day-to-day administration of government, sometimes you have to make judgment calls that are not entirely clear-cut,” said Hershman, R-Lafayette.

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