Editorial Roundup: Indiana

Indianapolis Business Journal. March 24, 2023.

Editorial: New efforts to attract veterans, young workers are important

On today’s front page, reporter Peter Blanchard has a story about the Indiana Destination Development Corp., a state agency that nearly four years ago replaced the state’s tourism department.

But the IDDC is doing more than simply trying to persuade people to visit Indiana Dunes National Park or go mountain bike riding in Brown County.

The agency is spending a good amount of its time and resources on persuading people to move to Indiana or to stay in Indiana once they’ve come for college or internships.

IDDC CEO Elaine Bedel said the organization’s goal is to give people “an experience that will set… in their mind that they can live here, take a job here and start their family here.”

That, Blanchard writes, could help build the state’s workforce to fill existing jobs and ones that will be created in the future.

That’s important. The state’s unemployment rate is already below the national average and, even as the economy has cooled, companies say they can’t find enough workers.

Among its programs are ones that focus on attracting just-out-of-the-military veterans to Indiana and helping interns working in the state see why it’s a good place to stay.

We certainly applaud the agency’s efforts—as long as they don’t totally distract from tourism as well.

But we fear the IDDC could be facing a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to attracting young people to live in Indiana, especially while the Legislature is in session.

Nearly every day, the headlines out of the Statehouse focus on social issues that are divisive and debates that could give people outside Indiana the impression that they are not welcome in the state. We don’t believe that is true.

But since the debacle that was the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, Indiana must work harder to overcome a reputation that its views are backward. The national outcry against that law was so intense that the Legislature had to roll it back, but some wounds remain from the fight.

The social issues at play at the Legislature today—including debates about how to care for transgender children, what books to include in school libraries and how to teach race in schools—raise legitimate questions that do not have easy answers. That’s why the conversations must be conducted with compassion and empathy—by people on all sides of the issues.

Of course, not all of the proposals that have been offered or debated at the Legislature will become law. In fact, it’s likely few of them will.

And certainly, there are plenty of conservative states—think Tennessee, Florida and Texas—where people are flocking, despite similar legislation. But Indiana has some experience in this area with RFRA, a fiasco not worth repeating.

Our hope is that lawmakers will keep this in mind as they also ponder how they are going to attract new workers, fill the state’s talent gap and land more high-paying jobs.

The IDDC’s new programs are good efforts that deserve more attention and funding.


Terre Haute Tribune-Star. March 22, 2023.

Editorial: How will history view Mike Pence?

There’s a popular saying in politics that goes like this: “Never wrestle with a pig. You get filthy, and the pig enjoys it.”

Mike Pence may have gained new appreciation for that metaphor recently when he flopped into the mud pit with his former boss, Donald Trump, who plucked him from the heartland in 2016 to become his vice-presidential running mate.

Pence was a beleaguered candidate in his reelection bid for Indiana’s governor when Trump was trying to shore up flagging support among evangelical voters. The GOP presidential nominee tapped Pence as the guy to give him a boost with that critical conservative voting bloc.

The partnership worked out well for both Trump and Pence — at least for a while. Trump won a tight election to become president, and Pence became vice president.

But Trump’s piggishness is never far from the surface. Having lost his reelection bid in 2020 to Joe Biden, Trump encouraged Pence to violate his constitutional oath and refuse to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Pence declined, triggering a riot on Capitol Hill by an angry mob of Trump supporters encouraged by Trump himself. The mob even erected a gallows outside and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they trashed the Capitol building and temporarily halted the peaceful transfer of power.

The partnership hasn’t been the same ever since. Trump viewed his VP’s refusal to cooperate with his attempted coup as a betrayal. Pence was slow to respond, but eventually expressed his anger and disappointment about the predicament foisted upon him that day.

Pence is now mulling a primary run for president in 2024. With Trump already a declared candidate, Pence treads carefully when criticizing the former president. But he isn’t staying quiet.

Pence, at a recent media banquet, increased the intensity of his ire toward Trump over what happened on Jan. 6.

“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said at the event. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

It didn’t take long for Trump to retaliate.

“Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6, so in many ways you can blame him for Jan. 6,” Trump told the Washington Post.

Pence’s new tone with Trump demonstrates a willingness to challenge the former president for his actions on Jan. 6. But we can’t ignore the fact that Pence was often complacent and compliant during Trump’s presidency. As Trump grew bolder in flouting the rule of law, Pence’s courage was not on display, at least not publicly.

When news broke last weekend that Trump was expecting to be indicted in the 2016 scheme to pay hush money to an adult film actress over an alleged affair years earlier and declare it as a campaign legal expense, Pence wasn’t as willing to hold Trump accountable. Rather, he adopted the partisan position of suggesting Trump was being treated unfairly.

“It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here,” Pence said during a news show.

Once again, Pence is his former boss’s apologist and defender.

Will history judge Mike Pence as a hero with regard to Trump’s worst instincts?

While the vice president did the right thing standing up to Trump’s undemocratic and illegal actions of Jan. 6, 2021, Pence’s legacy remains far more complicated.


Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. March 25, 2023.

Editorial: Proposed data privacy law doesn’t apply to state agencies

A data privacy law proposed by state Sen. Liz Brown, making Indiana one of just six states with such protections, is a priority for Senate leaders – and for good reason.

There are no federal safeguards or consumer protections against those who collect Americans’ information online or at cash registers, then monetize it as part of their business operations.

The Fort Wayne Republican’s Senate Bill 5 gives consumers the right to ask for and receive basic information from those who control personal information. But it was written for the business community, and thus does not apply to state agencies.

Last week, WRTV Indianapolis reported the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is selling residents’ personal information to private companies and individuals, and the practice has been going on for years.

The agency doesn’t inform Hoosiers of what it plans to do with the information. It doesn’t allow drivers to opt out of the process, and it doesn’t have to ask for permission to sell their information.

The BMV makes millions selling drivers’ data, according to the Indiana Legislative Services Agency. Between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2021, the BMV received about $43.4 million from the sale of personal information, the LSA said in a fiscal impact statement for last session’s Senate Bill 196.

That bill, authored by Sen. Rodney Pol, D-Chesterton, sought to allow drivers to opt out of information-sharing by the agency. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation but never received a hearing.

Inquiries to the BMV for comment were not returned. Brown said she has reached out to the agency to learn what personal data is being shared.

“I don’t really know exactly what they’re doing in terms of the data – who has access, how they sell, how they decide, if it’s just aggregated,” she told The Journal Gazette. “I had thought this was not personal information.”

A BMV spokesperson told WRTV, “Data is only available to qualified entities who meet the eligibility and use requirements in Indiana Code 9-14-13-7 or 9-14-13-8.”

The latter citation allows the BMV to disclose “highly restricted personal information” of drivers with their consent. Indiana defines such personal data as an individual’s digital photograph, Social Security number, information on health conditions or impairments, driver’s license or identification document number, name, address (but not ZIP code) and telephone number.

In the absence of consent of a driver, highly personal information may be shared with entities if they provide proof of identity and represent that use of the information will be limited to state-approved purposes, such as by law enforcement, for market research or safety and theft analysis.

“With growing cybersecurity threats across the country, Hoosiers rightfully feel unsafe about the status of their personal information,” Pol said in 2021. “It’s unacceptable that they should have to worry about big government willingly selling that personal information without their knowledge.”

Brown’s bill is a people-first approach to data privacy that gives consumers a legal framework to protect their personal information. But it also informs businesses looking to invest in Indiana of the requirements needed for storing and using consumer data, said Adam Berry, vice president of economic development & technology for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“We live, work and play in a digital economy, and so using data for business purposes is something that’s here to stay,” he told The Journal Gazette. “That’s why it’s important for us to put something on the books that can provide that predictability to business.”

Without a federal solution to data privacy, states are left to write legislation that balances consumers’ rights to protect how their personal information is used, with business and government’s ability to use the data they collect for research and profit.

If the BMV is selling drivers’ personal information in aggregate, and believes it needs the additional revenue from those sales to make ends meet, it should just say so. But if some of the shared data is considered “highly restricted personal information,” the agency has some explaining to do to Hoosiers and lawmakers.