From Hate Crime Legislation, to the Opioid Crisis, to Gasoline Taxes and Road Funding, Indiana faces several challenges. For me, the biggest problem is the fact that both Republicans and Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly think that these issues can be just legislated away. I wish it was all that simple...
The first step in battling the opioid epidemic is to stop making new addicts! It's no secret that people often get hooked on opiates from having been prescribed some form of prescription pain killer. Harsh drugs such as hydrocodone, codine, oxycodone (oxycontin), morphine, and others will certainly dull pain, but their use may be akin to using a jackhammer to crack a nut. I'm not a doctor, so I make no claim to know what is right for patients, but I think doctors should have the right to prescribe their patients whatever treatment(s) they think could be beneficial to the patients. To that end, Indiana should:
Decriminalize non-violent drug offenses, such as simple possession.
Promote evidence based rehabilitation methods.
Legalize the medical marijuana and products derived from cannabis, such as CBD oil, both with and without THC.
gAS TAX AND ROAD FUNDING
Indiana now has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the country, due to a recent increase of then cents per gallon. With this increase also comes an increased tax on electric vehicles, disincentivizing Hoosiers from making environmentally conscious choices. Yet, despite this tax increase the predominance of toll roads and bridges continues to increase.
The claim is that we need another 1.2 Billion dollars to fund infrastructure around the state. This figure is hard to believe, but let's go with it. Indiana can explore other options besides increasing taxes on already expensive fuel. Indiana should:
Create an infrastructure fund that is used for roads, bridges, and INDOT infrastructure only and not raid the fund for other pet projects.
Partner with private industry for paid naming rights to bridges, overpasses, and particular stretches of highway. For example, rather than have the Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds highway, we could sell that right to Verizon wireless or other firm, who would supply the funding to maintain it. This model already works for concert venues and sports arenas.
Explore billboard / ad revenue funding models
Cut 1-5% off the top of Indiana's 32 Billion dollar operating budget to be applied directly to the infrastructure fund.
Reform criminal justice, removing prison sentences for non-violent criminals and apply savings to other government functions, including roads and infrastructure.
hATE cRIME LEGISLATION
I FULLY understand why people are in favor of hate crime legislation. These are the ugliest of crimes. I don't understand how people could have so much bigoted hate in their hearts that they could commit horrible acts of violence. I don't even understand how someone could spray paint a swastika AND mean it, but it happens every day. It’s horrible and disgusting and it makes me so angry that I really want to give in to my urge for vengeance. But is vengeance what we’re aiming at with legislation? Shouldn’t we be aiming at creating less violence and more safety, tolerance, and acceptance? Shouldn’t the end goal be to produce fewer hate groups/members? That is certainly my goal, but I’m not convinced that hate crime legislation accomplishes that. But again, if the goal is vengeance, then hate crime legislation sure looks like a great success. If the goal is creating more hate, then hate crime legislation may be the right course of action.
Equal access to quality education has historically been a challenge for public schools. Many people are calling for more education funding. We may very well need to allocate more funding to education, but it does us no good if we just use that money to buy more typewriters, card catalogs for the libraries, and more carbohydrates for the cafeteria.
Let’s look at some figures: Indiana spends about $7k per student and we rank about 24th in the nation. New York state is about $22k per student and doesn’t rank much better at 22nd. Minnesota spends about $11k and ranks at about 7th! So, it's not JUST about money, and it's not JUST about whose in charge. It's about finding out what works and how much that costs. Our target should be a performance goal, not a dollar amount.
The best role that the Indiana state government could play in education would be to get out of the way and give control of education back to local school boards, teachers, and parents. Let them spend their allocations however they want under 1 condition: Complete and absolute transparency.
Using the information collected from the schools and school systems, it won’t take long before we’ll be able see which ones are getting the best performances and who are spending the most efficiently. Then we can use those lessons learned to craft a more statewide plan, if the numbers bear out that there is utility in doing so.
In addition to local school boards, parents, and teachers having control of their curriculum, I also support:
evidence based progress metrics
easing regulations on private education
collaborative homeschooling (homeschooling pools)
broadening the use of technology as classroom aids and homeschooling options
Industrial Hemp – I support giving Indiana's farmers the option to grow industrial hemp as a cash crop, should they want to choose to do so. I feel that it should not be taxed any higher or any differently than any other crop, such as pumpkins. Indiana's farmers are the best. Let them put their skills and talents to work for all of us!
Medical Marijuana – I will introduce legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and medications derived from Cannibis family plants, such as CBD oil with or without THC. Why do we still consider using marijuana as medicine a taboo, while not batting an eye at the fact that the prescribing of medicines derived from opium is commonplace.
Recreational – Make no mistake, I think this should be legal. I don't partake in it myself, but it's not my place to tell you that you can't. I will introduce legislation that would allow the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana in Indiana.
Criminal justice reform
Victimless Crimes – I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as a victimless crime, at least there shouldn't be. If you are the only victim of the offense you've committed, such as in cases of drug use or possession, then why should you be prosecuted? If you are only a danger to yourself, and not a danger to society, then why should you be incarcerated and taken out of society? You may need help, you may need access to treatment, and perhaps the state could play a role in that somehow, but jail-time, prison-time, burdensome fines, etc are for criminals, and I don't think you have committed a crime if you have not:
hurt or injured someone else's physical body
implied violence or intimidated another person with a threat of physical violence
stolen the lawful property of someone else
damaged or vandalized the property of someone else
If you haven't done these things, then you've not committed a crime against our society. and you don't need to be imprisoned. Likewise, the state doesn't need to be spending millions of dollars incarcerating you.