Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Letters to the Editor

May 8, 2012

HSPA offers thanks

Greensburg — Dear Sen. Leising and Rep. Frye:

The Hoosier State Press Association would like to thank you for your support of H.E.A. 1003, which contains language that will allow a judge to levy a civil fine against public officials who deliberately violate the state's public access laws. The provision originally was filed in S.B. 92 and H. B. 1093. S.B. 92's author was Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield. Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, was the author of H.B. 1093.

Those bills died in the Senate while Republican leadership determined what amendment would be necessary before the concept would be moved forward. At the fulcrum were Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis; and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. If they couldn't find language that both could live with, the session would have ended with no civil fines for deliberate violations of the state's public access laws.

Each was aided by their chief of staff, Julie Halbig in the House and Jeff Papa in the Senate.

In the waning hours of the last day of the legislature, H.E.A. 1003's conference committee signed the report allowing the bill to go to the House and Senate floors for a vote. The committee members were bill author Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, bill sponsor Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, minority members, Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, and Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville.

The Senate approved the bill, 41-9, including your vote.

The House approved H.E.A. 1003 with a 74-20 vote. Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. 2012 was special in that there was a wider coalition of allies supporting HSPA with this legislation. Chief among those was attorney General Greg Zoeller and his legal team, David Miller and Matt Light.

Others who signed on and testified in favor of H.B. 1093 and S.B. 92, which carried the fines language, were Mark Lawrance of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Paul Chase of AARP, Glenna Shelby of the Indiana Association of Broadcasters, and Julia Vaughn of Common Cause.

In the past, the Indiana Coalition for Open Government has been represented and its survey of Public Access Counselor users provided insight for legislators. The Hoosier State Press Association doesn't expect a rash of public officials will receive fines under this new legislation, but we think it was vitally important for the General Assembly to take the stand that it intends that public officials should abide by the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act and that there are personal consequences for ignoring the public's rights under those laws. The fine can be up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for a repeat offender. In addition to the civil fine, H.E.A. 1003 sets guidelines for statewide commissions to allow members to participate long-distance via an electronic connection. HSPA supported this concept. The bill also sets "reasonable" as the time frame for when a citizen should expect to actually receive documents he or she has a right to inspect or copy. HSPA also appreciates that you were a co-author for S.B. 92. This bill, as noted above, was one of the original bills to

contain the civil fine language. It also contained language that sets "reasonable" as the time frame for public agencies to make available records for inspection and copying. Other provisions would have allowed a citizen to request email notice of meetings of governing bodies that the citizen wanted to monitor and that would have allowed the Public Access Counselor to examine blacked out public records to determine whether the agency had properly redacted the information.

The Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville, approved S.B. 92 with a 10-0 vote. Other co-authors of S.B. 92 were Sens. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond. Unfortunately, H.B. 92 died in the Senate, but the civil fine language was resurrected in H.E.A. 1003. Enjoy your time away from the legislature.


Stephen Key Executive Director and General Counsel Hoosier State Press Association

Text Only
Letters to the Editor
  • Six decades of problems To the Editor:I am writing today about something that has been bugging me for 64 years. It is about my addition, called Highland, and the problems we have had with city government.I bought two lots in 1950 from Sheldon Alvreson. We had our house buil

    July 22, 2014

  • letter to the editor Tri Kappa grateful for successful parade Dear Editor:Tri Kappa would like to extend our appreciation to all those involved in helping make the Fourth of July Parade possible again this year. We appreciate Porter-Oliger-Pearson Funeral Home for the us

    July 17, 2014

  • Starting the conversation To the Editor:This is a subject that is always in the news. It is drugs, mainly marijuana. I was at my dermatologist’s, Dr. Dubois, the other day and we were discussing Colorado making marijuana legal and the state of Indiana making it legal for medi

    July 15, 2014

  • Fair share in property taxes When the Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission begins its look at the state’s taxes this summer, there will be talk of business needing to pay its “fair share.” But what is fair?Hoosier companies currently pay 50% of the state’s total property tax. Sh

    July 15, 2014

  • Great crowd for parade To the Editor:The 2014 fair parade was just awesome. I want to thank Joyce Holtkamp for inviting me to participate. Also, I want to thank Ortman Farms for the use of the hay wagon (during baling season no less), the Blasdel family for a place to stor

    July 15, 2014

  • Hope is eternal To the Editor:This is a subject I don’t really know how to address. In our lives, we have all had something we knew was unattainable, but couldn’t let go.It may be a job or it may be social standing, and we’ve all had love that we knew was not to be.

    July 8, 2014

  • Weighing in on the airport expansion In the Greensburg Daily News (GDN) article of 6-17-14 titled “Proposed Airport Expansion To Boost Job Creation, Officials Say”.... one thing lacking is current statistics to support anything stated.Industries are changing and we must change with them

    June 24, 2014

  • The debate on E-cigarettes The debate on E-cigarettesDear Editor:Here comes the sound of anti-smokers talking about the harms of e-cigarettes, you know the ones that burn no tobacco, only heat up a solution containing nicotine. No harms are known either to the smoker or anyone

    June 17, 2014

  • The finest man I’ve known The finest man I've known Dear Editor: I am writing today about a person in my life whom was one of the finest people I have ever known. I am writing about Mose Levenstein. We had two in town, then one was Store Mose and the other was Junkyard Mose.

    June 12, 2014

  • Passion for purple Passion for purple Dear Editor: Every October, the country goes pink in support of breast cancer research. It's a beautiful sight. The underlying message is one of a vast network of support from family, friends, and total strangers. I would love to

    June 3, 2014