The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 08, 2018 1:00 am

You'd need 11 weeks to read regs book

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Got some extra time on your hands?

It would take Hoosiers 451 hours – or more than 11 weeks – to read the entire Indiana Administrative Code, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which analyzes and quantifies state regulatory text.

Indiana has two-thirds fewer state regulations than neighboring Illinois, though.

Author James Broughel noted the 2018 Administrative Code contains 91,998 restrictions and 8.1 million words. People and businesses in Indiana must navigate these layers of restrictions to remain in compliance.

By comparison, there are more than 1.08 million additional restrictions in the federal code.

Researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University developed State RegData, a platform for analyzing and quantifying state regulatory text. State RegData captures information in minutes that would take hours, weeks, or even years to obtain by reading and counting. For example, the tool allows researchers to identify the industries that state regulation targets most by connecting text relevant to those industries with restrictive word counts. Referred to as regulatory restrictions, the words and phrases shall, must, may not, prohibited, and required can signify legal constraints and obligations.

The three industries with the highest estimates of industry-relevant restrictions in the 2018 Indiana Administrative Code are animal production and aquaculture, ambulatory health care services, and utilities.

Banks backing Barrett for justice

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks said Wednesday he wants President Donald Trump to nominate federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett for a seat on the Supreme Court.

Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and a former University of Notre Dame law professor, is reportedly on the short list Trump is considering to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump met separately Monday with four candidates, including Barrett, 46, according to news media.

“Amy Coney Barrett would bring both impeccable credentials and Hoosier common-sense to the bench. As the youngest jurist on President Trump's short list, she has the unique opportunity to leave a legacy and reshape the direction of the court for generations to come,” Banks, R-3rd, said in a statement.

“Many Americans elected President Trump because of his promise to nominate conservative constitutionalists to the Supreme Court who are in the mold of the late Justice (Antonin) Scalia. Democrats attacking Barrett for upholding the rights of the unborn and respecting religious freedom demonstrate why she is an excellent pick,” Banks said.

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Barrett at her confirmation hearing last year whether her Catholic faith might affect her judicial objectivity, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calf., telling Barrett “that the dogma lives loudly within you.”

Barrett wrote in 1998 that Catholic judges should recuse themselves from death-penalty cases because their church opposes capital punishment.

Barrett wrote in 2013 that Supreme Court justices should rule according to the U.S. Constitution rather than judicial precedents, leading many to presume she would support repealing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Trump has said he will announce his court choice Monday. The nominee will require confirmation by the Senate, which Republicans control 51-49. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday on CNN that she “would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.”

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly is regarded as a key vote in confirming Trump's pick. He was among three Democratic senators who supported confirming Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, in 2017. Donnelly stands for re-election this year in a state Trump won by 19 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.

Donnelly told the Indiana political news website Importantville last week that he had urged Trump to nominate “someone who we know will respect precedent, will be moderate, and will be someone who will try to bring the court together, as opposed to tear it apart.”

Still waters

If a blue wave of Democratic victories is coming in U.S. House elections this fall, as many political analysts have been forecasting, Indiana is seen as keeping a good distance from the beach.

Nonpartisan assessments of Hoosier congressional races show Republican incumbents remain heavily favored in their five contests, that Republican candidates are considered safe bets in two open-seat districts, and two Democratic incumbents are regarded as shoo-ins.

The Cook Political Report on Friday rated only one Indiana seat as being somewhat in play: the South Bend-area 2nd District, where three-term GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski is being challenged by Democrat Mel Hall. Cook has regarded the district as “likely” Republican since early in the year. More-competitive races are considered those that “lean” to a candidate, and the closest contests are called toss-ups.

Walorski also is rated as “likely” to defeat Hall in the June 14 ratings from Nathan Gonzales' Inside Elections. But Gonzales adds a cushion to his layers: Between “lean” and “toss-up” is a “tilt” category.

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball assigned a “safe” label to all Hoosier incumbents and the Republican candidates in the open 4th and 6th districts in the June 28 ratings by the University of Virginia political science professor.

Gonzales has only 11 of the nation's 435 House districts as toss-ups, compared with 25 for Sabato and 34 for Cook. Republicans currently have 42 more House seats than Democrats do.

To reach Political Notebook, email Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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