Leo Morris: General Assembly lawmakers plan for a not-so-special session

Indiana legislators are gearing up for a special session set to begin Monday and last at least a couple of weeks. We should urge them to reconsider and just stay home.

The session will cost Hoosiers about a quarter of a million dollars, and it’s hard to see what we’ll get for the money.

Two subjects are slated for consideration, and not much good is likely to come from either one.

First up is another proposed round of tax refunds for taxpayers to be paid out of the state’s surplus, which was embarrassing at $2 billion and now stands at about $6 billion. Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to send $1 billion of it our way.

Ordinarily, that would be good news if no other reason than the state has no business stockpiling more money than it needs to operate. But the country is in the midst of a crippling inflation, and an infusion of cash will make matters worse, maybe to a lesser degree than the billions in spending proposed by the Biden administration, but problematic nonetheless.

Inflation happens when there is too much money chasing too few goods. That’s just supply and demand. Nobody has any good ideas about increasing the supply of anything, so adding to the demand will increase inflation – Economics 101.

Then, there is abortion, added to the agenda when the Supreme Court scuttled Roe v. Wade and sent the issue back to the states. And where is the Republican supermajority on the issue? It’s hard to say, since they’ve been talking about it in secret.

Indiana already has enough restrictions on abortion to be described as a right-to-life state. It is well-known that lawmakers have wanted to add even more restrictions, but do they still, or have they gotten skittish because of the horrific story of a 10-year-old rape victim brought to the state from Ohio to have an abortion?

If they back off, they will anger the pro-life faction. If they don’t, they will further energize the pro-choice crowd. Either way, they will have created the impression of rushing into a decision with little discussion or debate.

Abortion is a deeply personal issue for most people, and anything the General Assembly does will upset a great many of them. Is it something that should be dealt with in a couple of weeks, or should it wait?

There can be good reasons to have a special session.

Legislators made a valid point when they complained of not being able to call one themselves in the middle of the pandemic. That left the governor completely in charge of the state’s response, with no input from the branch of government closest to the people his actions affected.

But special sessions should be reserved for emergencies. What we have now is one issue that has been a matter of dispute for decades and another for which the proposed remedy would be anything but a solution.

The General Assembly will have a long session next year, at which it will consider about 1,500 bills and enact a two-year budget approaching $50 billion.

Let’s urge the legislature to wait until January for the anxiety to begin so we can enjoy the rest of summer and autumn in peace.