By Tim Grimes
A coalition of mayors from across Indiana are teaming up for a push to have pseudoephedrine sold only with a prescription and gasoline tax revenue used only for funding road construction and maintenance.
The demands are part of a campaign announced Wednesday to push the General Assembly to give more control to local governments. The effort is called "Trust Local" and is a campaign of the Indiana Conference of Mayors.
"We're not trying to pit one level of government against each other," said Joseph Stahura, president of the group. "We want to work together to make sure our voices are heard."
One of the group's concerns is the prevalence of methamphetamine labs in the state. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke of Evansville said that the police have seized 104 meth labs so far this year in Vanderburgh County, and that 30 of those have been this week.
"The one action our Indiana legislature can to help our cities and towns is to make pseudo a prescription drug," Winnecke said. "Meth is Evansville's, and I dare say it, southwest Indiana's, number one public service problem."
Mayor Andy Cook of Westfield said local governments are dire for cash to pay to maintain their infrastructure - and that in areas like his city, giving local leaders a chance to advance mass transit projects should be on the table, too.
"Right now would be a great opportunity to take a balance approach to both transportation from a highway standpoint and looking at mass transit, perhaps beginning in our urban areas, but eventually spreading out across the state," Cook said.
The mayors also said they would seek more authority and more money to deal with foreclosed or abandoned properties from the legislature.
"State legislators have a lot of power affecting our ability to get things done," Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend said. "And they have a choice on how to use that power. They can use it to put tools in our hands or they can use it to tie our hands."
The Indiana Coalition of Mayors said its goals and mission are bipartisan. The group has both Democrats and Republicans.
"The idea of local government control is neither a Democratic or Republican issue," Buttigieg said. "Conservatives have always been skeptical of centralized control. And progressives have always been believing in the power of community."
Tim Grimes is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.