So, now we get to the period of the legislative session where my blogging on bills is essentially random. A flood of bills was just made public. I don’t have anything like the time to read and write about them all. So, I browse and I pick a couple that seem interesting. Anyway, Sen. Doriot has introduced SB 246 that would require local public questions to appear on the ballot only in general elections or during municipal general elections where the impact of the question is entirely within the municipality.
One type of local public question near and dear to my heart is the school tax rate referendum. In May 2017, we held one for the West Lafayette School District on the date for the primary that year. With the caveat that this bill is 29 pages long and I’m convinced the election laws are designed to be almost unreadable — they give me a headache whenever I have to read Title 3 — I think we would have had to wait until November 2018 to put the question on the ballot. That’s a long time to wait, and I think our tax rate may have expired as a consequence.
But, there’s a larger philosophical question: is a local question more legitimate in a general election because there are more voters at the polls? Or does the result become diluted because there are more voters who don’t really understand the question? I can see the referendum question going differently if it’s being answered by a bunch of people who show up to the polls because they hate Hillary, don’t know much about local government, and “oh, hey, question about public schools. Not sure what this is about, but there’s something about taxes, so no.”