Indiana News

Speaker of Indiana House addresses lawmakers ‘on maintaining decorum’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State Rep. Todd Huston, speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, on Monday said Hoosiers deserve better.

After heated moments Thursday during discussions of a bill to change boundaries of a school district, a measure that some see as discriminatory, the Republican from Fishers said he’s spoken with quite a few state lawmakers over the last few days. Some of those conversations were challenging, others inspiring, and all of them important.

He acknowledged COVID-19 protocols have separated everyone, limiting important social interactions in this year’s legislative session. The House has moved into a temporary chamber in the Indiana Government Center to improve social distancing. He said it’s far less than perfect for conducting legislative business, but said that’s no excuse for what happened Thursday.

“I was personally embarrassed by those events and I am committed today to increased focus on maintaining decorum, civility and professionalism in this institution that this body deserves, and the people we serve deserve, both inside this chamber and outside of it,” Huston said Monday. “Let’s all commit to listen and recommit to learning from one another to better serve all of our constituents. Important and tough conversations need to happen, including those about race in America. As I shared with the Black caucus this morning, I’m always willing to have those conversations. I’ll continue to have those conversations. I’m proud to call you my friends and I want to continue to have those conversations, and work together to make it better.”

State Rep. Renee Pack, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said after listening to Huston, “When the speaker was talking this morning, I think I was really encouraged by his message. I really liked his willingness to work with the Democratic caucus and also the Black caucus to come up with solutions. He was very willing to come together and make this body the great body that it should be.”

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta said Huston met with him and several other state lawmakers. GiaQuinta said they had a really healthy dialogue and discussed ways how they can better work together and strive to have a better second half of the legislative session.

“We agreed that we want to see better decorum and respect for our fellow members. Let’s all agree for the sake of the institution; let’s be better than last week. I will end with this: I’m going to encourage House Democrats to reach out today or tomorrow and introduce yourself to someone on the other side of the aisle that you haven’t met yet,” GiaQuinta said.

Huston asked all Representatives to give each other the respect they deserve, by sitting and quietly listening. He asked lawmakers to have conversations respectfully and quickly, but honor the people at the two podiums by listening to what they have to say.

Huston also shared with GiaQuinta and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus on Monday that there will be enforcement of the rules for all 100 members. Huston said he will interrupt if he feels the rules are being violated.

The Fishers Republican hopes lawmakers will use Thursday’s step backward to take multiple steps forward.