By Eddie Drews
INDIANAPOLIS—A lot of new faces will be chairing committees in the Indiana House of Representatives in the session that starts Jan. 3.
Due to the large number of House Republicans who opted not to seek re-election this year, there are eight committee chairmanship and six leadership changes among the appointments announced Thursday by House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.
The new committee chairmanships include: Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, Courts and Criminal Code; Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, Elections and Apportionment; Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, Judiciary; Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, Roads and Transportation; Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, Rules and Legislative Procedure; Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications; Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Evansville, Interstate and International Cooperation; and Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, Ethics.
One committee that will remain under the same leadership is the budget-drafting Ways and Means Committee. But Bosma appointed Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, to be co-chairman as Rep. Tim Brown, the Crawfordsville Republican who has chaired the committee for several years, continues to recover from a severe September motorcycle accident.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to take on this responsibility, and Speaker Bosma and Representative Brown’s trust in me to step into this role,” said Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, in a statement. “As Tim’s recovery progresses every day, I look forward to working with him and the committee throughout session as we tackle the state budget and other issues impacting Hoosiers.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody expressed concern about one of the changes: Bosma’s appointment of Negele to head the ethics committee. Democrats have called for an ethics committee investigation into Bosma’s alleged sexual encounter with a Statehouse intern more than 20 years ago.
“It’s like an alleged culprit picking their jury and judge,” said Zody. “If you think it looks like Speaker Bosma stacked the Ethics Committee with loyalists to bury an ethics complaint against him, you’re not wrong.”
Negele was unable to be reached for comment, but as the beginning of the session approaches Zody said Republicans are simply trying to run out the clock on the issue.
Eddie Drews is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.