The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 1:00 am


Shell game

Lawmaker shuffle reflects contempt for voters

“Speaker Brian Bosma's upcoming retirement from the Indiana House of Representatives represents the end of an era at the Statehouse,” wrote Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray in a news release Friday. “I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

“Congratulations, Brian, on a well-earned retirement from the General Assembly,” wrote Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer.

Here's a news flash for Bray and Hupfer: Brian Bosma did not “retire” from the General Assembly. He quit before finishing the term his House District 88 voters elected him to serve. And that the GOP caucus arranged to give his likely successor a boost inseniority is just one more example of the party's dismissive treatment of voters and elections.

There are legitimate reasons for resigning: Health issues or a death in the family. A move prompted by a job change. Election or appointment to a higher office. An Allen County councilman resigned last month after comments that drew widespread calls for him to step down.

Bosma has not indicated any of those apply to him. He insists he will continue to be involved in politics and state government.

His early exit instead appears to have had nothing to do with personal circumstances or public service and everything to do with politics. It allowed the political veteran to orchestrate the grooming and selection of his successor as House speaker and now allows him to help position attorney Chris Jeter as the incumbent in a race against Democrat Pam Dechert. If elected, Jeter also will enjoy a lead in seniority over other new lawmakers.

It would be less troubling if Bosma's departure were unusual, but it follows a well-established pattern at this point. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley resigned less than a year into his final four-year term. Senate President Pro Tem David Long quit halfway through his term. In all, eight members of the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats, have resigned since the start of 2018 -- only one for appointment to higher office.

Indiana lawmakers are quick to remind voters they are citizen-legislators in a part-time legislature. As such, they shouldn't be honored as “retirees” when they leave office early.

Hoosiers deserve elected officials who pledge to complete full terms, not placeholders. They deserve representatives who respect the electoral process and their voters' voices.

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