Pharos-Tribune

Local News

April 29, 2013

Reform bill stripped of funding

Lawmaker says criminal code bill not intended to be an unfunded mandate.

INDIANAPOLIS — Facing the end-of-session deadline, Indiana legislators moved forward on a bill to overhaul the state’s criminal sentencing laws but left undone the issue of where local communities will get the money to implement it.  

The House voted Thursday to approve a compromise version of the bill, designed to divert thousands of low-level offenders out of state prisons and back into local jails, probation departments, and community treatment programs.

A budget deal also reached Thursday contains $6.4 million to help local communities absorb extra costs of the new sentencing laws that would go into effect July 1, 2014. But that falls far short of $30 million recently requested by the bill’s supporters.

“We do not intend for this to be an unfunded mandate to the locals,” said Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, who authored House Bill 1006.

Steuerwald said the issue of funding will need to be taken up by a legislative study committee this summer.

As House Bill 1006 made its way though the session, it was stripped of funding. Not until this week, after county officials from around the state flooded their legislators with calls and emails, was money for local programs put in the budget bill.

Andrew Berger, head of government relations for the Association of Indiana Counties, said the lack of funding alarmed local officials who’d come to see the bill as little more than cost-shifting by the state to local governments.

“All along, the bill’s supporters said that if the locals aren’t given the resources, this isn’t going to work,” Berger said. “Well, then I guess it’s not going to work.”

House Bill 1006 rewrites the state’s felony criminal code to raise penalties for the violent and sex crimes and decrease penalties for low-level property and drug crimes.

The goal was to keep the worst criminals in prison and give judges the discretion to send low-level offenders into intensive local probation, work-release, or addiction-treatment programs to keep them from cycling back into crime.

But Berger said local communities can’t afford to pick up the all the extra costs. Few county jails have drug-treatment programs, the probation rolls in counties are already crowded, and there are counties in Indiana that have no community-corrections programs, he said.

“Without the money to make this work, what’s the point of the bill?” Berger said.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, a Democrat from Portage who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, had attempted to get $30 million in additional funding for local governments impacted by the bill: $10 million to expand community corrections, $10 million for local drug and alcohol treatment programs, and $10 million for county probation departments to hire and train more probation officers.

“I pushed that really hard,” Tallian said.

The bill’s authors remain hopeful that the funding issue can be resolved before the law goes into effect in 2014. But they face a challenge of trying get more money from the Legislature during a non-budget year.

State Rep. Tim Brown, the chief Republican budget-maker in the House, said there’s been conflicting opinions about the fiscal impact of House Bill 1006.

While the Legislative Services Agency has said the legislation will eventually lower the prison population and save the state money, the state Department of Correction came out with its own analysis that said the prison population will skyrocket, because of the bill’s longer prison sentences for the worst offenders.

Still, the bill’s backers remain hopeful that the legislation can be improved upon in the next legislative session.

Democrat Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington, a co-author of the bill, called House Bill 1006 “the scaffolding on which we’ll build a better criminal justice system.”

“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Pierce said.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Police Blotter: July 23, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 23, 2014

  • NWS-PT072314 Delphi Play2.jpg 'Under the sea': Delphi children ready for musical DELPHI — Young actors and actresses will tell the story of a young mermaid dreaming about being human in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” this weekend.The Stargazers Children’s Theatre, a program through Delphi’s public library, is presenting the mu

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • NWS-PT072314 Matthew Shuey mugshot - CLG [Duplicate] Police: Peru man punched officer in the face PERU — A 51-year-old Peru man was arrested after flipping off a police officer and punching him in the nose.According to court documents released Tuesday, Peru Officer Matthew Feller was on patrol Friday when he observed Matt Shuey lean out his car w

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay couples' lawyers object to full-court hearing INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys on either side of a lawsuit over Indiana’s overthrown gay marriage ban are wrangling over how many federal judges should hear the state’s appeal, a technical issue that could make a big difference.Those representing gay

    July 23, 2014

  • Police Blotter: July 22, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 22, 2014

  • One dead, one seriously injured in crash on Division Road

    A Logansport man was killed and another was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash Monday on Division Road.

    July 22, 2014

  • NWS-PT072214 Western Wildfires.jpg Local volunteer to help wildfire victims A Flora resident will be among the volunteers helping those affected by the wildfires in Washington State.Pat Rinehart was scheduled to fly out of Indianapolis International Airport Monday afternoon and join fellow American Red Cross volunteers at th

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214 Lauren Ray.jpg Logansport graduate makes a go at Hollywood “Instincta,” the latest film by a 2008 Logansport High School graduate, will be screened at the Gen Con Indy Film Festival in Indianapolis in August.It is an action, thriller cop drama short film, starring Logansport native Lauren Zehner Ray, Michael

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDU-PT072314 whitley lehr.jpg School's top honor goes to local grad Whitley Lehr chose Indiana University Kokomo because of its excellent School of Nursing. Receiving the campus’ most prestigious scholarships sealed the deal for each of her. The 18-year-old Delphi student called the Herbert Scholarship “a huge blessi

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214-Gwin3-BCM Landis Elementary teacher back from China experience Steve Gwin has hundreds of pictures already on his new laptop, just months after buying it. He spent the month of June in China teaching to kids at two schools and chronicled about each adventure.Gwin teaches first grade at Landis Elementary and got

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
eEdition