Don Sherfick

SB289 - a stealth companion of SJR-7?

Filed By Don Sherfick | February 26, 2007 7:28 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: constitutional amendment, Indiana Constitution, SJR-7, stealth

We all know how proponents and opponents of SJR-7 are arguing over whether the text of that proposed "Marriage" amendment is crystal-clear or river-bottom muddy, what it means and what it doesn't. It now seems that a companion piece of legislation, SB289, is winding its way through the Indiana General Assembly largely un-noticed. It deals with making and publishing summaries of proposed constitutional amendments to simpllify the public's job in voting on them.

The bill would require the Indiana Legislative Council, whose control depends on the political alignment of the House and Senate, to come up with a "concise neutral summary" of a proposed constitutional amendment to be available at the polls. It also says that the committee has "absolute discretion" as to what goes into that summary, and the courts can't review the matter.

Funny, we've had lots of constitutional amendments proposed and passed before without the benefit of this legislation. A number of them have been pretty long. I've looked in vein for the flurry of proposed amendments that are now in need to such help, and find only one on the horizon. Guess which one? You've got it: SJR-7. It contains all of 43 words. Given the controversy over the matter anything other than simply presenting those 43 words would be totally unnecessary and longer than the amendment itself.

So what does its sponsor Senator Dillon have in mind here? And why now? I can perhaps understand the need and even the "finality" of summaries for much bulkier amendments. Not this one. If nothing else, SB289 ought to say that for amendments of 75 words or less, just the text gets presented, nothing more. Hoosiers are capable of reading SJR-7 in the original. If this measure goes to them, they need a totally unfiltered look at the fine print.

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I don't think Dillon has any ill intent with this bill. He has filed it in years past (at least in 2006), as well. There's an article you can find here ( that talks a little more about his intent. Dillon has a lot of bad ideas, but he's not particularly stealthy.

My guess would be the "concise" language on the ballot... something like, "We wish to fuck all queers, fags, dykes and what-not, any which way we can - figuratively speaking of course, to protect our families from any peremptive attacks by the aforementioned.".

In 2006 that was SB 0143 []. You can look back at those bill proposed out of a senate district by following the form of this URL:

And then just change the year-date in the URL. When I did that for Senator Dillon M.D., I did not find such a bill prior to 2006 concerning "Explanation of proposed constitutional amendments." However, Dillon's co-authorship of SJR-7 was noted back to 2004.

So, I guess you could say he's putting his cart before the horse. I just wish other Hoosiers would see it that way. SB-289 is an attempt to incorporate a political statement into the voting materials. For that reason alone SB-289 should be unconstitutional.