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Indy Star: Gov. Daniels lifts strict security measures at Statehouse; Law to regulate “indoor noise pollution”? January 4, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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Dear Readers:

Although I do applaud Governor Daniels move to lift the strict security measures at the State House, I do believe there is a need to enforce noise levels. I could be wrong but at times I felt that the decibel level generated by rallies and protests exceeded reasonable indoor decibel levels. The excessive noise generated by beating objects was disruptive to the point where a person could not hear themselves think no less have a conversation on their cell phone in the hallways. I sincerely hope that there is a way to impose reasonable noise restrictions without infringing on the public’s First Amendment Rights to “freedom of speech.” Maybe state lawmakers need to investigate a law to regulate “indoor noise pollution”. Yes, it does really exist my friends. That’s just my two cents.

Laura Ann Arnold


11:26 AM, Jan. 4, 2012

Written by Mary Beth Schneider, Indianapolis Star

Gov. Mitch Daniels this morning rescinded the new security policy which had limited public access to the Statehouse.

Daniels said he made the decision this morning after consulting with legislative leaders and taking into consideration public reaction to the new rules, which had capped access at about 3,000.

“I’ve asked the fire marshal to rescind the new policy and to restore the traditional unlimited access here to the building,” Daniels said. “That’s in place right now. All three doors are open. … We will do that unless and until there’s a problem.”

Daniels said that “anything goes” policy will continue “as long as that works.”

If situations arise where public safety is endangered, he said, the police “have my authority to do something different at that point.”

Daniels said the security issues were “not idle concerns.”

But, he added, “Indiana respects fervently the rights of minorities” including those of labor union members.

He said that the protests last year resulted in some groups, including schools, canceling trips.

“There has to be some balance but I want to show respect to those who argued against the new (security) policy. They made good points,” he said. “When it comes to a call here, they are right that we should err on the right of openness and hope there’s not a problem. If one develops, deal with it then.”

Daniels said it will be up to the Indiana State Police to decide whether to reduce the massive police presence at the building. While traditionally a handful of state police are posted at entrances and exits to the building, and in key places such as the governor’s office, today — the opening day of the legislative session — there were dozens of police, some with guard dogs, inside and outside the building. Long lines of the public, most of them union members here to protest the so-called “right to work” legislation,” queued outside the east entrance, the only door open to the general public.

Lobbyists, reporters with ID badges and those with scheduled visits such as tour groups had expedited entry through the west entrance.

The policy was announced on Dec. 30, and immediately was viewed by some as an attempt to stifle the union protests against the “right to work” legislation, which bans companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-members to pay fees. Daniels and GOP legislative leaders have made its passage their top priority this session.

Its passage from committee in 2011 sparked both large union protests and a five-week walk-out by House Democrats who wanted to stop it and other bills aimed at unions and public education. While it was pulled from the table in the 2011 session, the bill is expected to pass this session due to the large Republican majorities in both the House and Senate who favor it.

But police said the protests of 2011 convinced them they needed stronger security policies in the building. This morning, the Statehouse resembled an armed fortress, with police even guarding one elevator that was designated for use by elected officials and their staff. Rescinding the policy restored that elevator to public use.

Labor union protesters said they felt the large police presence was meant to intimidate them. One Republican lawmaker, State Rep. Tom Saunders, said he found it an “embarrassment.”

Daniels said he initially did not overrule the state police recommendations because he considers himself a “temporary occupant” of the building. But reading what was said about the rules and listening to the criticism, he said, he decided Indiana should return to the old rules.

“We may have one of the most open, if not the most open, environment of any place. It’s fine. We like it that way, as long as it works,” he said.


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