« Ind. Courts - New Chief Justice to be selected May 15? Correct | Main | Ind. Law - Shots fired at lawyer's home: Police suspect connection to March attack on colleague at same law firm »

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Ind. Law - Reactive legislation: two stories reflecting different responses [Updated]

Monday WANE Fort Wayne ran a special report on young Amish buggy drivers. Yesterday Adam Widener followed up:

Kids as young as 10-years-old were spotted driving buggies on county roads and state highways. Both an Indiana state senator and state representative think it would be difficult and widely unpopular to regulate the age of the buggy driver.

Driving around rural northeast Indiana, you've certainly seen them. The Amish lead vastly different lifestyles and use vastly different modes of transportation.

The only thing legally required for buggies is the orange triangle on the back, lights at night, and a license plate in Allen County. Anyone can drive them on any road, except the interstate.

After spotting kids 12, 11, and as young as 10-years-old sharing the roads with cars, trucks, and semi’s, 15 Finds Out brought the issue to lawmakers.

“When it comes to the Amish, there's a lot of resistance by them to do any kind of regulation and we just kind of look the other way. It's kind of bad especially when you bring up the story of the 10-year-old,” said Tom Wyss, Republican state senator for Fort Wayne. “We've tried to take care of their religious concerns and stay out of the Amish community with a bunch of rules and regulations.”

Wyss said lawmakers have in the past tried to get the Amish drivers’ licenses. That attempt fell through since the Amish’s religious beliefs don’t allow facial photography. Wyss said lawmakers even tried to just get their photograph in a database, not on the actual license. But the Amish objected and there hasn’t been an agreement on the issue.

“It's a tough issue. I admit that. It's something that if we try to take up that issue I'm sure there would be a lot of fights and a lot of people that disagree with our approach on that,” Wyss said. “We're hoping the parents will be considerate of how young they allow individuals to drive those buggies…that creates a big danger.”

State Representative David Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) doesn’t think age is an major factor for Amish drivers being safe on the roadways.

“Every time something is dangerous, we don't as Hoosiers go out and pass laws against it,” Wolkins said. “The Amish way of life is a respected way of life in northern Indiana and we have to respect that as best we can.”

Though both legislators agree it's dangerous, for now they don't see any changes in the future. They see lawmakers keeping the law as it is for the people who live in "the way it was."

“They've been doing what they've been doing for 100 plus years. There weren't vehicles when they first started and it's just something that government has never tried to address,” Wyss said. “I really don't know how we can address it and do it successfully.”

In contrast, see this May 1, 2012 Sentencing Law Blog entry, headed "Indiana legislators (over?) reacting to pair of sex offenders earning early prison release." Prof. Berman introduced the AP story with:
This new AP story, headlined "Early prison release for sex offenders irks lawmakers," provides a telling and notable how sex offenders can get into trouble and prompt a harsh legislative response for, in essence, just being good prisoners.
The ILB recalls the Paige Grable case in 2007, which also dealt with the educational-credit program and caused outcry at the time, leading to the passage in 2008 of a bill "clarifying how education credits can be used to reduce an inmate's prison term."

[Updated on 5/3/12] See this Fox59 story today by Jake Miller, headed "Two convicted sex offenders could be released Thursday: Two men convicted of sex crimes against children will get out of prison early, and they are several years short of serving their full sentences."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 2, 2012 11:17 AM
Posted to Indiana Law