By James Polston
This is a question and answer series with newly-elected members of the Indiana General Assembly. Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Meet Rep. John Young
INDIANAPOLIS — Rep. John Young, R-Franklin, is planning on using his position at the Statehouse to give a voice to the voiceless.
“It allows me to work on issues for people that maybe don’t have a voice,” Young said. “A good example is children.”
As an attorney based out of Franklin, Young is following his family’s footsteps by joining the political scene — his mother was on the county council for her respective county and his grandfather was the circuit court judge and party chair.
TheStatehouseFile.com was able to catch up with Young to discuss what he wants to accomplish at the Statehouse.
Question: What are your main goals for your first legislative session?
Rep. John Young, R-Franklin, is using his first legislative session to learn the ropes. Young said he hopes his experience as an attorney helps him as a state representative. Photo by James Polston, TheStatehouseFile.com
Answer: Certainly, learning the process is probably one of the most important things. I mean, we are governed by rules and rules of the House and that is how business gets done up here. So, a lot of it is just simply a learning process to see the proper procedure that legislation goes through to actually be passed into laws and so to me that’s the biggest thing right now.”
Q: What motivated you to run for office?
A: I’m an attorney and I have a general practice in Franklin. I’m involved with a lot of government agencies and have clients that deal with government agencies so I deal with the law each day. I also ran for this office back in 2012. The district, after the census in 2010 – there was a redistricting and it created a new district in Johnson County, really southern Johnson County. So, I lost in the primary to John Price in 2012 but that was my first inclination to run. Then, when Mr. Price decided to leave last year or decided not to run again this year — I should say, I was still interested in the seat and along with that, my family has a political background. My mother was on the county council, my grandfather was the circuit court judge who was also party chairman for the county, so I also have a family background of being involved in politics and I frankly just find it very, very interesting. With the skills that you have as an attorney, you’re in a unique position to – how should I say this? You’re in a unique position as a legislature because I know how laws are applied after they’ve already been adopted and signed by the governor. I see the effects of these laws in the courtroom.
Q: You’ve authored two bills, can you tell me why you did?
A: The two that I ended up submitting – and I had a couple others drafted – one is simply a fix to – it’s the driving privileges statute. I think it was just an oversight in the original legislation, but it requires a petition be filed in the superior court. Well, in Johnson County for example, a whole lot of criminal cases are filed in Greenwood City Court. City court is not a circuit or superior court so the statute says you got to do something in the circuit or superior court, well that’s what it means. So, the one bill was basically to fix that and include city courts as another court you can file the necessary petition in. The other one has to do with the Department of Child Services. There’s been case law that has came out and what the Department of Child Services has been doing is inserting itself in family affairs by filing on its own petition to modify child custody. Not to get too into the weeds with it – the Department of Child Services is modifying custody orders so they don’t have to offer services to these parents that would be considered people that were in need of services by the court. It’s just a run around it and I don’t think that’s appropriate. So, my other bill is basically prohibiting the Department of Child Services from filing a petition to modify custody of either a dissolution case or a paternity case.
Q: Are you expecting any challenges during your first legislative session?
A: I’ll go back to my experience as an attorney; I’m use to being in front of government committees. I’ve been up here representing clients before. I read bills, that stuff I’m very familiar with already. But it’s the decision-making — when I’m an attorney representing, let’s say, a planning and zoning board, I don’t have an opinion. It doesn’t matter what the board does, I’m just there to give legal advice. I may totally disagree with how a board ends up voting but that’s not my job. Those individuals are either elected or appointed by the proper authorities and they’re the ones responsible. Well now, it’s different. Now, I am the one making those decisions and I’m sure you followed; we are starting to really get busy and starting to hear a lot of bills. I guess it would have been a couple days ago when there was a bill that came up that had to do with regulating trash and debris that blows out of garbage trucks or truck beds and the consequence of that — and there’s sort of already a law on the books — and the consequence of that is that it could effect small businesses. Lets say they have an old dump truck that has a couple holes in the bed and it’s leaking out some gravel. Well, that person is subject to a very expensive fine if he gets pulled over with a bunch of gravel coming out of his tailgate or out of some hole. Meaning that individual may have to spend quite a bit of money to get his truck fixed and if you’re a small business, that individual may or may not have that. On the other hand, we create laws to protect citizens from other people violating their rights and I don’t think it’s overly burdensome to require someone to clean the trash out of their truck bed or whatever before they go hauling down 65 again so its not blowing out or there’s not chunks of gravel coming out. So, that was the first tough vote I had. I don’t like extra regulations. I certainly don’t want to hurt small businesses, like some small waste removal service or small-time contractor. They may be getting hit with fines when they’re probably not even intentionally trying to commit a crime or an infraction. It’s just that something probably flew out of my tailgate or whatever. So, that was a tough vote for me.
James Polston is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.