Well, the Indiana legislature finished their work for the year. What a fiasco. And what a reminder that we in Bloomington need to keep our progressive efforts strong. And stand together.
This Thursday, May 4th, at 5pm at City Hall, please join me, Council President Susan Sandberg and other elected officials for a 30-minute program outlining where we are and where we should go, in light of recent legislative actions.
I won’t try to catalog all the ways the legislature’s priorities don’t match the needs and opportunities of our people. The deliberate, steady destruction of the public education system with vouchers and takeovers. The meager investment in pre-K that denies our children a brighter future. The failure to address redistricting reform, hate crime legislation or promote economic and job development to help lift Indiana wages. Continued corporate tax cuts joined with tax hikes on working folks. And another serious assault on women’s rights. The list goes on and sadly on.
Three legislative actions are particularly bad for Bloomington and undermine our ability to address local challenges together:
Reducing the incentives for solar energy, by drastically cutting the net metering approach for home-generated solar, at a time when Bloomington is seriously expanding solar. I urged the governor to veto this bill, as terrible for both the environment and jobs, but the utility companies spoke louder.
Restricting cities’ ability to support affordable housing with inclusionary zoning or other progressive techniques. This bill was supported by apartment owners and developers, and was prompted by our local efforts to support affordability. The protection of powerful moneyed interests is the clear motive for this interference with our ability to meet critical housing needs.
And most blatantly, immediately terminating Bloomington’s annexation process mid-stream and prohibiting only our community from any such annexation for five years. This law, designed to apply only to Bloomington, I believe violates the Indiana Constitution’s prohibition on special legislation. It was led by particular corporate interests that got the unprecedented provision stuck in the budget bill with no hearing, no public comment, in the dark of the night just before the legislature adjourned for the year. A classic smoke-filled room operation. Whatever you think of the particular annexation proposal that began this process, a state legislature has no business hijacking and terminating an ongoing legal process that already included more than a 1,000 local residents participating.
We all should be distressed at the state legislature’s blatant and in some cases discriminatory over-reach. These and many other issues were ours to debate, and ours to decide. But our ability to govern ourselves was hijacked. Conservatives’ words favoring local control ring hollow. And their actions threaten our future ability to ensure that Bloomington remains Bloomington.
I want you to know that, without fail, we will go on fighting for all the progressive values of our community, and the right of our people to chart our own future together. It may not always be easy and we won’t always prevail, but we will persist, and resist, and work tirelessly for a better Bloomington.
P.S. Please do join us if you can on Thursday, May 4th at 5pm at City Hall for more discussion of these issues. And let everyone know of your disagreement with this anti-democratic slap-down of our community.