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Hardin County United has allies in its efforts to clarify laws governing unification.
The volunteer organization said it has secured the support of the Hardin County legislative delegation in its efforts to revise a 2006 law related to formation of a unified local government.
HCU has been assuring cities in recent weeks it will ensure a city’s majority vote would be respected if residents vote against unification, even if the county as a whole favors unification. To do so, HCU plans to present an amendment to the law to clear up the confusion.
The uncertainty has added more fuel to the opposition’s fire as members of Elizabethtown and Radcliff city councils have said it is unwise to move forward on unification with so many unknowns lingering. Radcliff City Council voted last week to withdraw the city from unification talks while Elizabethtown officials canceled a meeting with HCU.
Members of HCU have said everyone is in agreement the issue must be resolved before any unification plan can be sent to the voters for consideration.
“HCU has been clear from the beginning that a community’s vote needs to be respected … no means no,” said HCU consultant Luke Schmidt in a statement. “HCU believes that the law needs to be revised to assure the integrity of any community’s vote on unification.”
Schmidt’s viewpoint is shared by local legislators.
“The law needs to be revised and clarified to allow Hardin County voters, in each of its cities, the flexibility to approve or not approve unification,” said State Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, in a statement. “I will be working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to bring about the changes needed in order to further strengthen this law and make it work for Hardin County.”
State Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, said he wants to protect the integrity of each vote through the unification process.
“Many folks are concerned that their local city will be forced into unification, even if the majority of voters in that city oppose unification,” Moore said in a statement. “As this issue goes forward, we will need to be able to clarify the existing statutes and alleviate that concern.”
Schmidt said HCU hopes to have legislation drafted as soon as possible to present to the legislature and is willing to partner with other counties considering unification in seeking the revisions.
In the meantime, Schmidt said HCU will keep local governments and Hardin County residents informed.
State Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, said the issue must be handled carefully.
“All aspects of unified government should be presented to the voters for their consideration,” Parrett said in a statement. “Yet, when the plan is put forth, voters should rest assured that the majority vote from their community will be respected, be it positive or negative.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.