Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

June 13, 2012

State law curbs nepotism in local government

A new state law aimed at curbing nepotism in local government kicks in July 1, but some communities are worried about meeting the deadline for the law's requirements.

The new law mandates all local governments adopt and implement anti-nepotism policies that restrict local officials from hiring or promoting their relatives; it also compels local elected officials to disclose any financial ties they may have with contractors that receive taxpayer dollars.

The penalty for not doing so can be severe: the state has the option of essentially shutting down a local government that refuses to eventually comply.

As the July 1 deadline looms larger, some local governments are scrambling as they work to figure out how to get the policy – and all the paperwork that comes with it – in place.

“I don't know that we can physically meet that deadline,” said Auburn Mayor Norman Yoder at a recent meeting of the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

Yoder may not be alone. The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns , known as IACT, is fielding “a lot of questions” from local mayors about how to put the law into place, said Rhonda Cook, the association's legislative counsel.

The same goes for the Indiana Township Association and the Indiana Association of Counties. All three organizations advocate and advise local governments.

The challenge is logistical: The new state law spells out the minimum requirements for what must go into the anti-nepotism policies. But each local government unit must pass an ordinance,  during a public meeting, making that policy into law and then figure out how to put into it into practice. 

Local governments are being warned not to hire or promote any one or enter into any contract after July 1 unless they've met the new law's requirements.

The new law has some exemptions. Some current employees are grandfathered in, for example. And there are some carve-outs for county coroners, sheriffs, and some township trustees.  

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