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The Kruse Report: Standing Up For Indiana
Start Date: 4/8/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 4/8/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
By State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn)

Recent statistics show that Indiana law enforcement and courts are doing a good job of addressing drunk driving in our state. Over the past decade, the rate of Hoosier impaired-driving fatalities has decreased by almost 20 percent.

Sadly, the federal government has threatened to put new limits on $40 million of Indiana’s highway funds because the Obama administration decided that our state’s drunk driving laws are not up to federal standards. What federal or state changes have occurred that led Washington to make this decision? Believe it or not, the law hasn’t changed at all. The federal government has simply changed its mind.

Eight years ago, Indiana government officials changed DUI statutes in a way that makes sense for our state. At the time, these laws were approved by the federal government as meeting the criteria to receive federal funding for road construction projects. But last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a comprehensive review of state DUI laws. The agency informed the Indiana Department of Transportation that despite our earlier approval, we were now deemed out of compliance and therefore at risk of having tighter federal strings attached to the money, so that we can’t use it for general road construction.

This federal mandate is an effort to hold Indiana hostage unless we conform to Washington’s idea of how to best run our state.

There are two provisions of Indiana law at issue. One is a change to our open container laws that legislators agree needs to be changed. The other would require an increase in community-service hours for drunk-driving convicts. Simply put, many Indiana legislators feel the federal standards are too stringent, and such a hefty community service sentence puts these convicts at risk of losing their jobs. Such a move would be purely disciplinary, and does little to rehabilitate Hoosiers who abuse alcohol.

Acting on this conviction, Indiana is prepared to refuse Washington’s mandate for community service, possibly meaning we can’t use $20 million of the federal money as we see fit.

The General Assembly is working to do what’s right for our communities without further relying on the federal government. That is part of the reason I support Indiana’s decision to set aside more than $2 billion in reserve funds to protect our state from future uncertainty. What do you think?

-30-

For a high-resolution photo of Kruse, click here.
Contact Information:
Name: Brady Hagerty and Chase Warner
Phone: 317-232-9425
Email: bhagerty@iga.in.gov
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    Senate Republican Caucus

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