The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 13, 2020 1:00 am

Political notebook

Banks seeks mask decorum in House

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Third District GOP Congressman Jim Banks wants to bring decorum to the House chamber by banning stylized face masks.

He sent a letter last week to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who controls other aspects of the dress code on the floor.

“Speaker Pelosi, you've allowed face masks to be worn on the House floor that wouldn't be allowed in a high school assembly hall,” Banks said.

He first took issue with Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who wore a mask with his campaign logo on the floor.

Banks said campaign pins aren't allowed on the House floor, and campaign face masks should be no different.

Then Banks cited Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer for wearing a mask with marijuana leaves on it during a debate on decriminalizing marijuana at the national level.

“Legality aside, it's unbecoming for a House member to wear clothing that promotes the use of any recreational drugs on the House floor,” Banks wrote.

Blumenauer fired back in a tweet, saying Republicans have done nothing to help families and small businesses that are desperate.

“And they're worried about a pattern on a mask?” Blumenauer said. “Get a grip.”

Trump support in city falls 7 points from '16

Fort Wayne was among the top metro areas to swing away from President Donald Trump, according to a New York Times analysis.

The paper found that compared with 2016, in 2020 there was less difference by race or ethnicity, and urban areas and suburban areas voted more alike. But the economic and education partisan divides widened.

Fort Wayne was in the top 20 for metro areas with populations above 250,000 to see support for Trump drop – by about 7 percentage points.

Interestingly, Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in the city just a few days before the election.

Colorado Springs led with an 11% drop.

No other metro areas in Indiana broke the top 25 for either moving to or away from Trump.

Trump still won Indiana 57% to 41% over President-elect Joe Biden.

Pearl Harbor remembered

At the end of Tuesday's Fort Wayne City Council meeting, Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd, recognized the 79th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, noting that his father fought in World War II.

“I want to remember all the servicemen and women who died at Pearl Harbor,” Didier said. “World War II was a terrible war, my father fought in it, and I can tell you, we have the freedoms we have today because of the men and women who gave their lives for our country.”

Didier concluded the meeting by thanking all members of the armed forces for their service.

Leadership appointment

Fort Wayne Republican state Sen. Justin Busch was recently appointed assistant majority floor leader by Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray.

The assistant majority floor leader is a formal leadership position, and in this role Busch will collaborate with the majority floor leader, State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, in assisting with Senate floor activity and ensuring the Senate session runs properly.

“Sen. Busch is a bright, practical and respected member of our caucus,” Bray said. “I look forward to his assistance with our session floor activities in his new leadership role.”

Busch said he is honored by the leadership role.

“I look forward to working with Sens. Bray and Messmer, as well as my other colleagues, during what will surely be a legislative session for the history books,” he said.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Niki Kelly at Political Notebook can be found at

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