Lindauer fields questions about amoebas, schools


JASPER — At Saturday’s legislative breakfast, State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, was the lone legislator responding to questions from the audience.

State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper was at Saturday’s meeting, but left early to attend another legislative breakfast in Chrisney. Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, was attending a different legislative breakfast that morning. And as part owner of Patoka Lake Marina and Patoka Lake Winery, Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty was working at a boat show.

“As you probably know, we are a part-time Legislature, which means we have full-time jobs,” Lindauer explained.

The first question was about putting signs and warnings up at lakes about the waterborne organism Naegleria fowleri being in the lakes.

Lindauer said that he has talked to John Abel, the man who brought up the question. Abel’s son, Waylon Abel, died in 2012 from a rare brain-eating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which he contracted after swimming at West Boggs Lake.

“DNR’s position has been that putting signs or warnings or things like that around all lakes may create more fear,” Lindauer said. “It sounds very callous. There’s no way to answer this without sounding callous, especially if you have lost a loved one to this. But that has been DNR’s position thus far.”

Abel then spoke up from the audience. He said that when he, Lindauer and a representative of DNR talked about the matter, the representative said that DNR’s concern was for the fish and wildlife, “but not so much concerned about the human life.”

Lindauer said he didn’t remember DNR saying that it wasn’t concerned about human life.

Abel continued, saying that he and others are trying to get this amoeba on the Nationally Notifiable Disease website.

“If we get this put on this site, the federal government will fund the warnings and the signs,” Abel said. “And once this gets put on this site, they can educate our children in schools in their health classes, and they will fund that also.”

Another questioner stated that schools that have empty school buildings for more than two years are required to lease or sell them for $1 if there is a private company operating a charter school that wants it, and asked Lindauer’s opinion about this. The questioner said that this practice goes against the state and federal constitution.

Lindauer said he wanted to talk to whomever submitted the question further about the matter. “There are some things in here, that I confess, I don’t know, like the constitutional aspect of this,” he said. “There’s a lot in here that I can digest. It’s not something that I can respond to in a short, little answer here.”

A questioner asked if Lindauer would support the bill “diverting the 12-year-old child from the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal justice system,” Jasper Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Eckerle read. “That is prosecuting her as an adult, try her as an adult and if convicted, sentencing her and imprisoning her as an adult?”

Lindauer said that is a Senate bill that has not yet been sent to the House, so he hasn’t yet studied the bill.

“On its face, from what I know of it, again, just answering honestly, I’m not crazy about the bill,” he said. “But the devil is always in the details. So if it comes over, if it’s something that is presented to us in the full House bill or in a committee that I sit on, we’ll have to look at the details of the bill and go from there.”

Lindauer was asked if he would support legislation allowing the 529 College Fund to be used to pay for middle school and high school books and technology-type devices, since those costs have been increasing.

“I’m generally a fan of providing more flexibility by allowing families to keep their money,” he said. “That’s my starting point. It’s an easy question to ask, would I support legislation, but the devil is always in the details. And so I would have to look at the verbiage and things like that. From a philosophical point of view, I generally support allowing people to keep more of their own money and where and spend it where they choose to spend it.”

Someone inquired about a proposed bill that has passed the Senate, which creates an advisory council to make recommendations to county sheriffs to reduce jail populations and recidivism. “Will this be a subject to a summer study committee,” Eckerle read, “and how does it affect the ongoing study of the jail/treatment/community corrections system in Dubois County?”

Lindauer didn’t know if this would be sent to a summer study committee. “This is a statewide issue, not just a Dubois County issue,” he said. “There’s been a variety of things that have been discussed and looked at on how do we best handle this problem.” He knows discussions will continue, but he’s not sure how that bill will be handled in the House.

Another questioner asked if Lindauer would support raising the age for Selective Service to age 21.

“I gotta believe that might be relating to the tobacco question,” he said.

He got a confirming, “oh yeah” from a man in the audience.

Lindauer explained that he voted no to increasing the age for purchasing and obtaining tobacco products to 21.

“I voted against it primarily because I can come up with a pretty long list of things we allow 18-year-olds to do,” he said, “including have an abortion, drive a car, go fight a war, a pretty long list pretty easily of things that we allow them to do.”

He recognizes that the federal government has already passed the law. “And so my vote was, I guess, more of a protest vote. But nevertheless, I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

A questioner asked for the status of the bill that requires additional review before coal power plants may be closed. Lindauer said that House Bill 1414 did pass the House, and is now with the Senate.

“It does provide additional review before power plans may be closed,” he said. “It’s not a stop. It’s not event an impediment necessarily. It’s basically [an additional review] before a power plant can be closed down.”

He mentioned the power plant in Petersburg that is closing two units. “That is going to negatively impact a lot of folks in that area,” Lindauer said. “And so what we’re doing at the legislature is just, again, it’s more of a speed bump than any kind of roadblock, to say that for any of these facilities, these utility owners start closing plants, they give the [Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission] time to kind of evaluate where we’re going as a state and our energy policy.”

The bill does not stop energy companies from developing new energies, Lindauer explained.

“It doesn’t negate any of those things,” he said. “So any of these facilities or any of these energy companies that want to continue developing those things, whether it’s natural gas, solar wind, they can do those things.”

Lindauer said he invites any constituent to reach out to him if they have a matter or concern to discuss.

“My goal is to be as accessible,” he told the audience. “We’re not always going to agree, obviously. But my job is not to agree with everyone. My job was to hear everyone and give you a voice. And I always seek to do that, whether we agree or not.”

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