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Friday, February 11, 2005

Ind. Gov't. - Inspector General bill moving with opposition

"Inspector General bill moving with opposition" is the headline to a brief item today in the Indianapolis Star. A quote:

A bill creating the post of inspector general to investigate wrongdoing in state government [HB 1002] was approved Thursday by a sharply divided House Government Reform Committee. * * *

The bill underwent substantial changes in the committee to allay concerns from prosecutors around the state who felt the bill gave the executive branch powers that impinged on the authority of the judicial branch.

The bill was amended to say the inspector general could only become a special prosecutor with the approval of an appeals court judge.

Democrats on the committee, though, said the bill still represents an unprecedented increase in police powers for a governor. The inspector general will have the right to subpoena testimony and records from all current and former state employees.

The bill now moves to the full House for debate.

Last Friday's (Feb. 4th) ILB had a lengthy entry on this bill, titled "Inspector general post irks county prosecutors." The Munster (NW Indiana) Times today carried a report by Brenden O'Shaughnessy headlined "Dems question inspector general power: Investigations of state government could crowd local prosecutors." Some quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS | A bill to create an inspector general post advanced in a party-line vote Thursday, leading Democrats to accuse Gov. Mitch Daniels of grabbing power from elected county prosecutors.

House Bill 1002 would give the inspector general statewide power to investigate and prosecute matters related to state government in the effort to root out corruption and waste. Some said it could lead to witch hunts at every level of government touched by state agencies, employees or money.

"It's another form of control by the executive branch," said Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point, an attorney. "It's a continuation of centralization of power in Indianapolis." * * *

The bill requires the inspector general to defer to the county prosecutor for six months before taking up an investigation. In the amended bill, Daniels' appointee -- former Clay County Prosecutor David Thomas -- also must get the approval of an Indiana Court of Appeals judge, who will weigh if it's in the state's best interest.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, the bill's author, said 11 other states have inspector general positions. Along with other ethical reforms proposed, Bosma said the bill is critical to a healthier state government.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 11, 2005 10:10 AM
Posted to Indiana Government | Indiana Law