Stories about Indiana

Gov. Holcomb (R) wins re-election in Indiana

Incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) defeated Woody Myers (D) and Donald Rainwater (L) in the election for governor of Indiana.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a major issue in this race. Gov. Holcomb said he led a data-driven response, protected Indianans’ health, and reopened responsibly, while Myers emphasized his background as a doctor and a former state health commissioner.

Rainwater criticized Holcomb over the state’s mask mandate and restrictions on businesses and churches, saying they should never have been shut down.

Heading into the election, Indiana was a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans controlled the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

The outcomes of the 2020 election cycle in Indiana could influence the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 census since, in Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drafting both congressional and state legislative district plans.

District plans are subject to a governor’s veto.

Eleven states are electing a governor this year. This includes seven states with Republican governors and four states with Democratic governors. Ballotpedia identified six races as battlegrounds—four in states with Republican incumbents and two in states with Democratic incumbents.

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Bosma resigns from Indiana House of Representatives

More than seven months after he disclosed his plans to resign, Rep. Brian Bosma (R) stepped down from the Indiana House of Representatives on July 31. Bosma first made the announcement in November 2019 that he planned to resign from the state legislature at the end of the 2020 legislative session, which ended in March.

Bosma, who had represented District 88 in the chamber since 1986, was the longest-standing state Speaker of the House in Indiana’s history. He first served as speaker from 2005 to 2006 and again from 2011 until spring of this year. Bosma stepped down from his leadership position on March 9 in anticipation of his resignation from the legislature. House Republicans selected Rep. Todd Huston (R) of District 37 to replace Bosma as speaker.

Bosma’s resignation creates the only vacancy in the Republican-controlled chamber. A caucus of Republican Party committee officials from HD 88 will appoint Bosma’s replacement, who will serve the remainder of his unexpired term set to end on the same day as the general election: November 3, 2020.

In the November 2018 elections, the chamber’s Republican majority decreased from 70-30 to 67-33. All 100 seats are up for election this year.

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Indiana moves administrative law judges to central panel

The state of Indiana on July 1 launched the new Office of Administrative Law Proceedings (OALP) to serve a central hub for the state’s administrative law judges (ALJs) and agency adjudicative proceedings.

The Indiana General Assembly passed legislation in 2019 authorizing the creation of the OALP.

The new central office transitions ALJs away from direct employment or contractual relationships with state agencies. The OALP seeks to promote the independence of ALJs by ensuring that ALJs serve as neutral adjudicators in administrative proceedings, according to the office.

Twenty-seven other states centralize their ALJ corps and provide ALJs to state agencies on request. ALJs in the remaining states—and the federal government—are appointed by agency heads or hired as employees to conduct administrative proceedings at specific agencies.

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Indianapolis city-county councilmember Johnson appointed to Indiana House of Representatives

Marion County Democratic committee members appointed Blake Johnson (D) to represent District 100 in the state House of Representatives on Saturday, June 27. Johnson replaces former Representative Dan Forestal (D), who resigned on June 15 following the second of two arrests he experienced in 2019 and 2020.

Johnson served as a city-county councillor in Indianapolis up until his appointment to the state legislature. He filed to run for the 100th District seat and advanced from the Democratic primary on June 2, defeating Clif Marsiglio with 74.7% of the vote. Johnson will face Republican Wayne Harmon in the general election on November 3.

Heading into this year’s elections, there were eight open seats in the Indiana House of Representatives where the incumbent did not file to run for re-election. Forestal’s seat in District 100 was one of them. Only one incumbent, Republican Dollyene Sherman, was defeated in the state’s June 2 primaries. The election years 2018, 2016, and 2014 also each saw one incumbent defeated. As of June 25, 51 incumbents (16 Democrats and 35 Republicans) have been defeated in state legislative primaries this year.

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Voters approve $130 million bond issue for Fort Wayne, Indiana, Community Schools

In Allen County, Indiana, voters approved a $130 million bond issue for the Fort Wayne Community Schools district, which is the second-largest school district in the state. The measure was approved 74 percent to 26 percent on June 2.

The ballot measure allowed the school district to issue bonds to fund repairs and renovations to 37 buildings. It was estimated to increase the property tax rate by $148.60 per $100,000 in assessed value, replacing expiring debt service property taxes.

The measure, known as REPAIR FWCS 2020, was the third measure in a series of three public votes concerning Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) School Basic Renewal/Restoration and Safety Projects. The first phase of the school renovations (known as REPAIR FWCS) was approved by voters in May of 2012. The second phase of the school renovations (known as REPAIR Phase 2) was approved by voters in May of 2016.

Frank Mrvan wins Democratic nomination in Indiana’s 1st District to succeed Pete Visclosky

Frank Mrvan (D) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Democratic nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Pete Visclosky (D) in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District. As of 10:50 p.m. Central Time, Mrvan had received 33.6% of the vote to Thomas McDermott Jr.’s 29.3%. No other candidate had received more than 10% of the vote. This was the first open primary for the seat since 1932; Visclosky first won election by defeating Katie Hall (D) in the 1984 Democratic primary. Mrvan will face Mark Leyva (R) in the November general election. Election forecasters rate the seat Safe Democratic.

Victoria Spartz wins Republican nomination in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District

First-term state Sen. Victoria Spartz (R) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Republican nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Susan Brooks (R) in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. As of 7:20 p.m. Central Time, Spartz had received 39.0% of the vote to Beth Henderson’s (R) 19.2% and Micah Beckwith’s (R) 11.6%. No other candidate had received more than 10% of the vote.
Over 90% of the satellite spending in the race took the form of mailers and advertisements from the Club for Growth in opposition to Henderson and Carl Brizzi (R).
Spartz will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election, which two forecasters rate “Leans Republican” and a third rates “Likely Republican”.

One Indiana Supreme Court justice faces a retention election in November

One Indiana Supreme Court justice, Christopher M. Goff, will face a retention election on November 3, 2020. He was appointed in 2017 by Governor Eric Holcomb (R).

Currently, every justice on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

The governor appoints the five justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Indiana State Bar Association has majority control over the judicial nominating commission. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications is made up of seven members: three lawyers (selected by bar members from that district), three non-lawyer members (appointed by the governor), and the chief justice of the supreme court who serves as chair.

When a vacancy occurs, the commission compiles a list of three names. The governor must then make his appointment from this list. Initially, justices serve for at least two years, after which they stand for retention during a regularly scheduled general election. If they are retained, justices serve terms that last ten years.

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Indiana advances start date for third phase of reopening to May 22

On May 21, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties would advance to the third phase of reopening effective May 22, two days earlier than the original target date of May 24.

The following businesses will be allowed to reopen or expand their operations: retail stores (at 75 percent capacity); mall common areas (at 50 percent capacity); gyms and fitness centers; playgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities; community pools; campgrounds; and movie theaters (at 50 percent capacity).

Social gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted. Cass, Lake, and Marion counties will be eligible to move into the third phase on June 1.

Holcomb unveiled Indiana’s five-stage reopening plan, the “Back on Track Indiana” plan, on May 1. The first stage constituted the period covered by the stay-at-home order. The first part of the second stage took effect on May 4 in most parts of the state. At that time, the following businesses were allowed to reopen: retail and commercial businesses (at 50 percent capacity); manufacturers, industrial operations, and other infrastructure; public libraries; and office settings. On May 11, restaurant dining rooms (at 50 percent capacity) and personal service businesses (by appointment only) were allowed to reopen.

The target start date for the fourth phase of Indiana’s reopening remains June 14.