Statehouse 101: New lawmakers learn the basics at orientation

By Shelby Mullis

INDIANAPOLIS — With a little over a month before the General Assembly is in session, the freshmen are in town for orientation.

“There’s a tremendous amount of information today and tomorrow that we’re receiving,” said Ryan Hatfield, a Democrat who will represent Evansville in 2017.

The two-day new legislator orientation Tuesday and Wednesday offers newly-elected state representatives and senators an opportunity to learn the basics of what it means to be an Indiana legislator. The orientation, which is organized by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, explains everything from how to cast a vote for a bill to where to find the bathroom nearest to the chambers.

The 18 new lawmakers also become acquainted with one another and with the issues that will be most prevalent during this year’s session. When the legislature reconvenes in January, 70 Republicans and 30 Democrats will hold seats in the House. The Senate will consist of 41 Republicans and nine Democrats.

Hatfield, a former Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutor, said the orientation serves as a “wonderful experience” after being on the campaign trail for the last year. He feels reinvigorated this week as he prepares for the upcoming legislative session.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work and taking it all in so that I can be as productive as possible as we get started,” he said.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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