The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 17, 2021 1:00 am

Political notebook

Holcomb to address mostly empty House chamber

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

The traditional State of the State and State of the Judiciary addresses – in a packed House chamber with 150 lawmakers and hundreds of other visitors, staff and media – won't happen this year.

Instead of giving a speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush will provide a written report on the Indiana State of the Judiciary before the close of the legislative session.

“I will provide a formal update on the work of the judicial branch through a written report and a remote message,” she said. “Even in these challenging times, there are success stories I am eager to share as courts across the state are resolving cases.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb will still give a live speech Tuesday night, but it will be to a mostly empty House chamber.

The four legislative leaders will attend and possibly a few other guests.

House Speaker Todd Huston said his members will likely watch from their homes or hotel rooms. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said his members will be invited to watch the address from inside the Senate chamber if they choose.

“The visual will look different,” Huston said. “But what's really important is the content and message.”

No Hoosiers going to inauguration

State and local Democratic Party officials said last week they were not aware of any Indiana residents planning to travel to Washington, D.C., for Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. 

“Usually we'd have a list of folks for you,” Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party, told The Journal Gazette in an email. “But this year – like so many other things – is so much different.” 

Allen County Democratic Party Chairwoman Misti Meehan said she is unaware of any local residents who plan to attend, and Fort Wayne City Councilman Glynn Hines, D-at large, said the same. 

In December, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced attendance limits for the ceremonies set to take place Wednesday.

Traditionally, the congressional committee would distribute 200,000 tickets for the official ceremonies at the Capitol and provide ticket bundles to members of the 117th Congress to distribute to constituents, a Dec. 16 news release said.

“For the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies, invitations to members of the 117th Congress will be limited to themselves and one guest. Commemorative ticket bundles and program packets will be made available to member offices for constituents following the ceremonies,” the release said.

Teaching history

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board vice president on Monday thanked the adults and teachers who navigated difficult discussions Jan. 7.

Maria Norman watched the storming of the U.S. Capitol in dismay, she said, adding she had to explain to her 9-year-old what was happening as she wept.

“What our children witnessed on (Jan. 6) should not take place again,” Norman said, reading from a prepared statement. “As the adults, we need to do better for our community, our nation, and our world.”

Norman described her hope for a unified nation.

“One where our children understand that we do not resort to violence when we want our voices heard,” Norman said. “We need to stop seeing D or R, red or blue, the right or the left – we need to see ourselves as members of our nation, we are all Americans.”

She reminded those in the audience – both in person and watching from home – that they aren't powerless.

“We use our voice when we vote, or you contact your elected officials when you want to be heard,” Norman said, “or you do what we did and run for office so that you have a seat at the table.”

Music madness

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board got an unwanted soundtrack to its meeting Monday.

Music from a radio station played through speakers overhead as members tackled the brief agenda.

Newly selected board President Anne Duff admitted it made focusing difficult.

“I hear music, so I got a little distracted,” she said after board member Steve Corona summarized two construction change orders up for approval.

The accompaniment wasn't unusual. It happens a lot, district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said, but it was particularly loud Monday.

It's believed the district's sound system is the source of the problem, not its televised broadcast of the meeting, officials said.

Ashley Sloboda and 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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