Stories about Indiana

Indiana adopts new congressional, legislative district boundaries

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed new congressional and state legislative district maps into law on Oct. 4, 2021. The Indiana General Assembly approved the new maps on Oct. 1.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries on Oct. 1 by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined State Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. On the same day, the Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

The Indiana House Republican caucus released the first draft of congressional and state House district boundaries on September 14, 2021. The Indiana Senate Republican caucus released the first draft of proposed state Senate districts on September 20, 2021. The full legislative history of Indiana’s redistricting proposals, including House and Senate committee reports and proposed amendments, can be found here at the Indiana General Assembly’s website. 

In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “Today I signed HB 1581, completing this once-in-a-decade constitutionally required process. I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.” 

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the “congressional map also likely will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R) said of the maps, “We have said all along that we were committed to drawing fair maps in a transparent way, and I believe we have done that. We prioritized keeping communities of interest together and drawing districts that make sense for the Hoosiers who live there while maintaining nearly equal populations in each district. I believe these maps reflect feedback from the public and will serve Hoosiers well for the next decade.”

State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices. In Northwest Indiana, two of my colleagues were drawn into the same district, and in West Lafayette and Lafayette, communities of interest were inexplicably split up. The supermajority’s intent to secure complete political control by drowning out certain voices seems clear from their actions, and it’s truly a disservice to our residents.”

All three maps take effect for Indiana’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.

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Amy Beard appointed commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Insurance

Amy Beard assumed office on June 2 as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance. Governor Eric Holcomb (R) appointed Beard to the position in May to replace outgoing commissioner Stephen Robertson. Robertson announced in April he would resign as commissioner, effective June 1.

Beard has worked at Indiana’s Department of Insurance since 2013, serving as a legal counsel from 2013 to 2017 and a general counsel from 2017 to 2021.

The Indiana Commissioner of Insurance is an appointed state executive position in the state government. The commissioner is appointed by the governor and is responsible for overseeing the Department of Insurance, which regulates insurance companies operating in the state.

Insurance commissioners are elected in 11 states and appointed in 39. Of the 39 states in which the insurance commissioner is appointed, 37 give the power of appointment to the governor; in New Mexico and Virginia, the insurance commissioner is appointed by a multi-member commission.

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Tim O’Brien sworn in to Indiana House of Representatives

Tim O’Brien (R) was sworn in on March 30 to represent District 78 in the Indiana House of Representatives. Republican precinct committee members selected him to represent the district in a caucus on March 29. O’Brien replaces Holli Sullivan (R), who was recently appointed as Indiana’s new secretary of state. Sullivan, who had represented the district since 2014, was appointed secretary of state on March 16.

O’Brien defeated Alfonso Vidal and Sean Selby to win the caucus vote. He will serve out the remainder of Sullivan’s term, and the office will be up for regular election in November 2022. At the time of his appointment, O’Brien worked as a realtor for F.C. Tucker Emge.

The Indiana House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Indiana General Assembly. After O’Brien’s appointment, the current partisan breakdown of the chamber is 71 Republicans and 29 Democrats.

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Indiana governor appoints Holli Sullivan as secretary of state

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) appointed state Rep. Holli Sullivan (R) as secretary of state on Feb. 16. She succeeds Connie Lawson (R), who announced earlier this year that she would be resigning due to health and family reasons. Sullivan will serve until the office’s next scheduled election in November 2022. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) first appointed Lawson as secretary of state in March 2012 to fill the vacancy created when Charlie White (R) resigned. Lawson was elected to the position in 2014 and 2018. Her tenure of nine years is the second-longest in the history of the office. Indiana’s first secretary of state, Robert New, served for nine years and one month from 1816 to 1825.

Before being appointed secretary of state, Sullivan served in the Indiana House of Representatives, representing District 78 since 2014. She was originally appointed to the state House after Gov. Mike Pence (R) appointed the district’s previous representative, Suzanne Crouch (R), to state auditor. Sullivan was elected to the legislature in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020. 

When a vacancy occurs in the Indiana General Assembly, the party that last held the seat must appoint a replacement, with the approval of the chair of the state party. Sullivan’s successor will be selected by the Republican precinct committeemen of District 78. 

The Indiana secretary of state is one of five statewide elected offices established by Indiana’s Constitution. The secretary of state is responsible for maintaining state records, overseeing elections, chartering new businesses, and overseeing the state’s securities and motor vehicle dealership industries. 

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Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announces resignation

On Feb. 15, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced her intention to resign, citing health and family reasons. Lawson said she will be leaving office as soon as a successor appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is ready to take office.

“I have dedicated the last 32 years of my life to public service,” Lawson said in a statement. “I have served with all of my heart and soul. It has been an honor to serve, but it is time for me to step down. Like many Hoosiers, 2020 took a toll on me. I am resigning so I can focus on my health and my family. I will work with Governor Holcomb to ensure our next Secretary of State is up to the task and has the tools and resources to hit the ground running.”

Lawson was first appointed as secretary of state by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) on March 16, 2012. She filled the vacancy created by the resignation of Charlie White after he was convicted of six felonies related to voter fraud. Lawson was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, defeating Democratic challengers Beth White and Jim Harper. She will resign before her term would have expired in January 2023. Her tenure of nearly nine years is the longest in the history of the office.

The Indiana secretary of state is one of five statewide, elected offices established by Indiana’s Constitution. They are responsible for maintaining state records, overseeing the state’s elections, and chartering new businesses, among other duties.

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Jenner takes office as Indiana Secretary of Education

On Jan. 11, Katie Jenner took office as Indiana’s first Secretary of Education. Jenner, a former senior education advisor to Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), assumed the role after the former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick (R), left office the previous week. 

Jenner was appointed to the position by Gov. Holcomb in November 2020, the first time that the chief of the state’s schools was appointed rather than elected. Under a new law passed by the Indiana legislature, the position of the elected state superintendent of public instruction was abolished and replaced by the secretary of education, which is appointed by the governor. The law was initially scheduled to go into effect in 2025, but the change was moved to 2021 after former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction McCormick announced that she would not seek another term. 

Jenner began her career working in K-12 public education as a career and technical education teacher. She most recently served as the Senior Education Advisor to Gov. Holcomb.

The secretary of education is the chief executive officer of the Indiana Department of Education and serves on the Indiana State Board of Education. Jenner was elected chair of the board on Jan. 13. 

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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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