Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 9, 2013

Hoosiers and state lawmakers at odds

Poll finds growing support for legal pot, opposition to marriage amendment.

INDIANAPOLIS — Legislators may balk at the idea of easing the penalties for marijuana, but a new poll shows a majority of Hoosiers support legalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.

The same poll finds that a strong majority of Hoosiers oppose amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.

The political analysts who conducted the poll say the results show traditionally conservative Hoosiers are changing their minds on hot-button issues, in part because of what they see happening in the rest of the nation.

“There is a kind of contagion effect,” said Joe Losco of Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs. “As certain sections of the country are willing to make changes, others become more open to do the same.”

The Bowen Center’s annual poll found about 53 percent of those surveyed support legalizing marijuana, while 78 percent said they were ready to see marijuana taxed like cigarettes and alcohol.

The Hoosier Survey also found residents remain split on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry. Forty-eight percent support it, up from 45 percent a year ago. But when asked if the current law banning same-sex marriage should be locked into the constitution, only 38 percent supported the idea.

The Bowen Center’s survey also found that Indiana residents want the General Assembly to focus on job creation when it convenes in January. Just over 83 percent identified jobs as the most critical issue for legislators, followed by improvement to schools (73 percent) and affordable health care (59 percent).

Nearly 44 percent of Indiana residents said environmental protection should also be a top priority for legislators. That’s up from about 30 percent when the question was asked three years ago, when Indiana was still in the throes of a recession.

“When you’re worried about putting food on the table, you’re not as concerned about clean drinking water,” said Ray Scheele, co-director of the Bowen Center.

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