Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 24, 2014

EDITORIAL: Wake up for Third House

Goshen News

---- — There are valid reasons to get out of bed in the morning.

Greeting the promise of a new day is one. Employment counts, too. Increasingly, Goshen-area residents have — or should have — roused themselves from slumber to remove accumulations of snow and ice from Maple City sidewalks.

This Saturday, there’s another reason to set the alarm: making your voice heard.

ANOTHER ROUND of “Third House” sessions begins at 8 a.m. at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce office at 232 S. Main St. Third House offers local residents a chance to hear from and interact with the state lawmakers elected to represent them. Similar gatherings are scheduled to take place at the Elkhart Chamber.

Lawmakers attend depending on their availability when the Legislature is in session. Those invited to Third House include state Reps. Wes Culver, Rebecca Kubacki, Tim Neese, Tim Wesco and David Ober and state Sens. Carlin Yoder, Ryan Mishler and Joe Zakas.

You’re invited, too.

TRADITIONALLY, lawmakers start off Third House gatherings by updating the status of pending legislation. Then a moderator fields questions from the audience.

That’s when attendees ask about legislation important to them, or quiz their representatives about matters impacting Hoosiers in general or Goshenites in particular.

In the view of this newspaper, this is a fine example of representative democracy. It’s also an opportunity to talk about issues that perhaps haven’t received their due in terms of media coverage.

CONSIDER THE PROPOSED constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Indiana. The ban is a contentious topic that’s garnered no small amount of newspaper space, broadcast airtime and interest on social media. It’s an important issue, but certainly not the only one.

Case in point: Goshen Chamber of Commerce President David Daughter recently spoke to The News about Chamber Public Policy Committee discussions.

“It’s just not something we feel (lawmakers) should be taking time with,” Daugherty said of the proposed amendment, while noting the Chamber hasn’t taken an official stand on the same-sex marriage prohibition. He said the public policy group’s concerns are focused on issues including the personal property tax and revenues local communities are losing due to property tax caps.

Those issues are important to the local Chamber. What’s important to you?

THE NEWS THINKS a face-to-face give-and-take between lawmakers and the general public is a key component to the legislative process working well — or at least as well as it can. Third House provides a forum for that to happen.

We commend our lawmakers for making the time, and applaud the people who’ve shown up at Third House in the past, and those who are planning to tomorrow.

Third House starts at 8 a.m. Don’t forget to set the alarm.