Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 5, 2013

Public Eye - May 5, 2013

By Scott Smith and Ken de la Bastide
Tribune columnists

— Karickhoff stays busy

State Rep. Mike Karickhoff had a busy legislative session, authoring three bills which are now sitting on Gov. Mike Pence’s desk and co-authoring three others which also passed both houses.

For a legislator from Kokomo, it was perhaps the most productive session since Steve Johnson was an influential state senator — and evidence of Karickhoff’s growing influence.

This was Karickhoff’s third year in the Legislature, which makes him almost an elder statesman, considering how many Republican freshmen have come in since he was elected.

His biggest struggle this year was over legislation to require public school districts to accept students not based on privately held criteria, but simply on the availability of classroom seats.

Karickhoff encountered significant pushback on the bill, most notably by Eastern Howard Schools’ superintendent Tracy Caddell, who threatened to cease accepting high school transfers if the bill passed.

Karickhoff said Thursday he expects the governor to sign the bill.

He also opened up a bit about the Legislature’s decision to go back on part of a bill he authored in 2011, which prevented children of undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state college tuition.

He said the biggest factor in this year’s rollback bill — which grandfathers the students already enrolled — was President Obama’s decision to provide a pathway to citizenship for those individuals.

“Things change. I’m not going to be rigid and say, oh, I’ll never vote for that. I think people know that I will look at each bill, look at the possible outcomes, judge things and then vote.”

The old refrain

It’s the old refrain which never gets heard: city residents pay county taxes.

Lost amid the indignation from Howard County officials over the city’s termination of the E911 dispatch agreement is the fact that the vast majority of the money used to run the system already comes from city residents, and will continue to come from city residents.

Kokomo city officials estimate that upwards of 80 percent of the taxes on land lines and cell phones, all of which can only be used for emergency dispatch services, comes from city residents and businesses.

On top of E911 fees, city residents pay county taxes. Why then, they ask, should city residents pay additional taxes to fund emergency dispatch?

So far, county officials have countered with the suggestion that 75 percent of the emergency calls originate in the city. We would guess that probably 100 percent of the calls to dispatch originate in Howard County.

Berry calling it a day?

Indiana State Auditor Tim Berry told the Public Eye he has no plans to appear on the ballot in 2014.

Berry, who is completing his second term in that office, said he doesn’t anticipate running for an elective office next year, although he wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“I won’t be a candidate in 2014,” he said.

Several Republican Party officials indicated that Berry was considering running for State Treasurer. Berry was elected Treasurer in 1998 and 2002 and was then elected Auditor in 2006 and 2010.

“People have asked and encouraged me to run,” Berry said. “It’s time for someone else to be involved in state finances.”

Berry said he currently has no plans for when he leaves office Dec. 31, 2014.

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