The Indiana General Assembly has a record number of freshman lawmakers. 29 of the 150 legislators are about to serve in their first session.
All of the newly elected state lawmakers and even some holdovers are at the Statehouse this week for instruction.
They’re learning everything from how to balance their new lives to how to file a bill. The lessons come from the bi-partisan Legislative Services Agency. “This group is incredibly energetic,” says LSA Director George Angelone, “and we’re going to benefit from having a lot of new members with new ideas.”
It’s also an overwhelmingly Republican group. The new Republican super majority in the Indiana House, where the GOP now holds 69 of the 100 seats, grew from a minority in just the last two elections. 19 of the 25 new House members in this class are in the GOP. “It’s wonderful to be part of such a large majority,” says Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers.) “It’s just… we have to be proper stewards of it.”
And that’s why freshman Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville) took time to talk with a new Democratic Senator from her area, Mark Stoops of Bloomington. “We need to get to know each other so we can work together to represent the same constituency,” said Mayfield.
Members of both parties are talking about changing the partisan culture that led to walkouts in each of the last two years. “I think that so far we’ve been able to build good relationships.” says Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis), “and a lot of us have talked about getting together for dinner and coffee and to start kind of rebuilding things.”
Next week the General Assembly meets for Organization Day and then the freshman are on their own.
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