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Primary elections:


There’s more than one way to run a primary important because they help define the field of candidates available to voters in the general election. Even though party switching by voters is not illegal in Indiana, it can have consequences. Party activists may request a ballot from the other party and vote for a perceived weaker can- didate in an attempt to saddle their opposition with a lesser candidate for the general election. However, prospective candidates for future political office can be prohibited as partisan candidates if they have a history of switching parties. Many Indiana citizens choose not


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oting in primary elections is subject to state law, and states use a variety of ap-


proaches. An “open primary” is a primary election that does not require voters to be affiliated with a political party in order to vote for partisan candidates. In a “closed party” system, one


must be a registered party member to vote for candidates of that respective party, i.e., only registered Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates and only registered Republicans can vote for Republican candidates. A “nonpartisan blanket primary”


is a primary election in which all candidates for elected office run in the same primary regardless of politi- cal party. Under this system, the top


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two primary vote getters advance to the next round, similar to a run-off election. Tere is no separate nomina- tion process for candidates before the first round, and it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same party could advance to the general election. Indiana uses an “open primary”


system, but a voter who desires to vote in the Indiana primary election must give his name and a political party declaration to the poll clerks of the precinct on primary election day. Indiana state law allows voters to request a ballot of any party without being a registered member of the party, but then they can only vote for those candidates competing to repre- sent that party in the general election. Primary elections are critically


to participate in primary elections because they do not want to be af- filiated with one party or another. Unfortunately, this tends to reduce


voter participation in the critical selection of primary candidates. For example, in the May 2010 primary election only 21 percent of Indiana’s registered voters participated, while during the November general elec- tion 41 percent of registered voters went to the polls.


Discussion questions:


• Should Indiana consider changing to a “nonpartisan blanket primary”?


• Would more Indiana voters partici- pate in primary elections if they did not have to request a party ballot?


• Would a less “partisan” primary encourage more citizens to consider running for elective office?


County road funding: Funding decreases challenge counties ing if the road conditions merit it.


ounties are challenged by deteriorating conditions on county roads. Tis is gener-


ally due to reduced funding from the state. Between 2000 and 2008, coun- ties received about 36 percent less state funding in 2000 dollars. Tese decreases are due to less revenue in the gas and special fuels (diesel) tax fund and increased costs for road maintenance and improvements. Revenue from property taxes is


not used to maintain, improve, or construct county roads. County road funding is based on distributions from the Motor Vehicle Highway Account and the Highway Road and Street Fund. Te HRSF distribution is based on passenger car registration; any vehicles plated with truck plates are not included in the formula. Te MVHA distribution is based on vehicle registrations and total mileage of county roads. Counties which have enacted a county wheel tax get to keep all of the money collected. Last summer, an IFB task force on county roads researched various funding options:


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OPTIONS THAT MAXIMIZE CURRENT FUNDING • Increase enforcement of current frost laws/ordinances and encour- age counties to enact new ones on roads that need them.


• Create incentives for counties to share equipment.


• Use inter-local agreements be- tween counties and municipalities.


• Place emphasis on improving drain- age, extending the life of the road.


• Require increased number of axles on heavy trucks to decrease wear and tear on roads.


OPTIONS THAT CHANGE THE CURRENT DISTRIBUTION • Include pickup trucks in the vehicle registration base part of the local distribution to counties in the funding formula


• Restrict funding for non-tradi- tional transportation, such as bike paths and trails.


• Require that states assume main- tenance or increase funding to counties with roads that lead to state recreational areas.


• Remove the INDOT lane mile-


age cap and eliminate its ability to force counties to assume control of state roads.


• Change the ISP payment from the motor vehicle highway account from a percentage to a flat amount, allow- ing for increases due to inflation.


• Create a federal aid swap with local entities, allowing INDOT to keep all federal money and give locals the same amount of money they would have received but without all the restrictions and requirement that come with federal aid.


• Simplify the current formula and make changes easier to understand.


OPTIONS THAT INCREASE CUR- RENT FUNDING • Eliminate light truck plates and restrict truck plates to those will- ing to pay more.


• Require trucks to be permitted in each county they operate (fees need only to be nominal).


• Encourage all counties to adopt local option highway user tax also known as the wheel tax, local opinion income tax or other local opinions for increasing road fund-


• Switch the gas tax from a flat per gallon fee to a percentage or use a combination of both.


• Use impact fees for road improve- ments to new development.


• Phase in an increase of the state gas tax of 18 cents and state special fuel (diesel) tax of 16 cents to 28 cents per gallon each over a 3-5 year period.


Discussion questions:


• What are the current conditions of your local county roads?


• Should vehicles with truck plates be counted as vehicles in the distribu- tion of funds from the highway road and street fund?


• What can farmers do to lessen the wear and tear caused to the roads by farm equipment? Should counties enact and enforce frost ordinances and use restrictions for county roads?


• Would your county organization support an increase the gas and special fuel taxes if it meant more funding for local roads?


February 11, 2011


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