The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 12, 2019 1:00 am

Auburn lawmaker garners NRA honor

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action recently awarded Reps. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, and Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, the Defender of Freedom Award at its 148th National Rifle Association annual meeting in Indianapolis.

“This year Jim Lucas and Ben Smaltz succeeded in passing legislation to expand self-defense options for Hoosiers,” said Chris Kopacki, Indiana state director for the organization. “This award honors Lucas and Smaltz for leading the fight in Indiana to promote our fundamental right to self-protection.”

The Defender of Freedom Award is awarded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in preserving and protecting Second Amendment rights, the NRA says.

“I thank Representatives Lucas and Smaltz for their unwavering commitment to freedom,” Kopacki said.

At the NRA annual meeting, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Lucas and Smaltz's bill, which eliminates state fees for a new five-year state license to carry a handgun; allows licensed gun owners greater ability to carry for self-protection in churches and curtails lawsuits against those who use reasonable force in self-defense. 

Alt voting on rise

Alternative methods of voting are catching on in Indiana.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported recently that 28.6% of Indiana voters cast their ballots by alternative methods in the 2018 election, more than double the 12.5% who did so in the previous mid-term election in 2014.

Nationally, 39.8% of voters used alternative methods in 2018, up from 31.1%  in 2014, the Census Bureau found.

Alternative methods include any method of voting other than in person on Election Day, such as voting by mail and early voting.

Indiana ranked 21st among states for highest percentage of voters using alternative methods in 2018. The highest ranking states – Washington, Oregon and Colorado – have mail-only voting systems. The lowest ranking states were 11 that offered no early voting and required excuses for absentee voting.

Candidate introductions

The Allen County Democratic Party will introduce its candidates for the November municipal election at a “Pizza & Politics” program Friday.

There also will be a political trivia contest.

The event is at 6 p.m. at party headquarters, 7301 Decatur Road, Fort Wayne. Tickets are $35 a person, and sponsorships are $100. Proceeds will pay for campaign mailers, campaign signs and a branded event tent.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at

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