Transgender sports bill poised to advance | Donnelly gets confirmed

·6 min read
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly talks to the media at the Indiana Democratic election party at the Hyatt Regency downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly talks to the media at the Indiana Democratic election party at the Hyatt Regency downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

The debate over social issues is poised to continue next week at the Statehouse, this time with a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls sports.

House Bill 1041 is slated to be heard in committee on Monday. At least half a dozen bills were filed at the start of the 2022 legislative session that could impact transgender Hoosiers.

It's not unusual for such bills to be filed in Indiana, but most transgender or LGBTQ+ related bills have failed to advance in the years after Indiana received negative national attention for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015.

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Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed by Senate

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in a voice vote to serve as Ambassador to the Holy See on Thursday, after being nominated by President Joe Biden.

"Indiana Democrats are proud he has this remarkable opportunity to show some Hoosier Hospitality to one of the most sacred and cherished places in our world," Mike Schmuhl, chairman of the Indiana Democratic, said in a statement back in October.

Lawmakers target Holcomb's powers ... again

Republicans lawmakers are once again targeting Gov. Eric Holcomb's emergency powers.

Under House Bill 1100, executive orders issued by a governor can't be in effect for more than 180 days unless lawmakers approve an extension.

Already Gov. Eric Holcomb is entangled in a court battle with the Republican-led General Assembly over the powers of the legislature, due to a bill lawmakers passed last year. Democratic lawmakers questioned why Republicans wanted to advance a bill related to an ongoing court battle.

Competition for Prosecutor Ryan Mears

Republican Cyndi Carrasco, who recently worked as general counsel to Gov. Eric Holcomb, announced she's challenging Democrat Ryan Mears for the Marion County prosecutor position.

It's the beginning of what could out to be a heated challenge for Mears, who has taken heat from Republicans over the city's rising homicide rate and his previous decision not to prosecute lower-level marijuana offenses.

“The last two, three years of the city's public safety crisis has just gotten worse and worse,” Carrasco told the IndyStar. “I came to the decision that all of the skills that I've learned at the state level and all my years of public service, I needed to bring those and bring them home to make my community better.”

Mears also announced his reelection bid this week.

What's next for Sen. Mike Braun?

We suspected from the moment Sen. Mike Braun went to Washington D.C. that he wasn't there for the long haul, since he's in favor of term limits. But, will he seek a second term or will he opt for a new challenge: a gubernatorial run in 2024?

"I'm going to make the decision based upon where I think I can have the most impact," Braun told reporters during a Statehouse visit Tuesday, "and I'll make that decision sometime post midterm."

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ICMI: Blair Milo joins 1st District race

Blair Milo, the former mayor of La Porte and former member of the Holcomb administration, announced she is running in Indiana's 1st Congressional District to try to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan. She's likely to be a party leader favorite due to her ties to the Holcomb administration.

So far five Republicans, including Milo, have filed to run in that district in yet another sign that the general election race could actually be competitive in that district, or at least one of the most competitive congressional races in Indiana.

Jennifer Ruth-Green, Mark Leyva, Ben Ruiz and Aaron Storer have all filed to run as Republicans as well. Mrvan has also filed for reelection.

There's also a couple more candidates running in the 9th Congressional District in an attempt to replace retiring Republican Congressman Trey Hollingsworth. Bill Thomas filed to run and Stu Barnes-Israel announced his decision to run in a Fox News article. State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, announced she was running last week.

Osili for Indy mayor?

Indianapolis City-county Council President Vop Osili still remains shy on the question of whether or not he'll run for mayor — although he has long appeared an obvious front-runner for the 2023 elections.

The IndyStar sat down with Osili to talk redistricting of the 25 council seats. The process will help shape the next group of councilors that the city's future mayors must work with over the next 10 years.

Will he run for mayor?

"It's a really good question," Osili said. "I really love what I do on the council. I really do. And I know that there are some amazing responsibilities that go alongside of being mayor, and it's not something that one takes lightly."

Center Township constable runs again

Embattled Center Township constable Lance Stephens is seeking reelection despite facing felony charges for allegedly driving while intoxicated, his second arrest for such an offense in less than seven years.

What's critical now is whether he can successfully vacate his previous 2016 drunk driving conviction in Marion County — in Indiana, state law allows for a felony charge if the driver has been convicted of driving intoxicated within the past seven years.

And people can't hold elected office in Indiana if convicted of a felony that can carry an imprisonment of more than one year.

Upon advice of counsel, Stephens declined to comment on his efforts to vacate his first OWI.

Stephens also faces at least one Democratic challenger, Vincent Williams.

Who's running in Marion County

Candidate filings for other Marion County offices have turned up familiar Democratic names: Kate Sweeney Bell, the chair of the Marion County Democratic Party and current county recorder, is making a run this time for county clerk. Joseph O'Connor has filed to remain as county assessor. Sheriff Kerry Forestal has also filed for re-election.

Just one person has filed to replace Wayne Township trustee Chuck Jones, who came under fire last year for accepting money from a local nonprofit while also serving as trustee. Democrat Jeb Bardon hopes to replace him, and former state representative Karlee Macer and Becki Adair also have expressed interest.

What else you might have missed at the Statehouse this week

More than a dozen IndyStar reporters are tracking legislation at the Statehouse this session. Here's a quick recap of some of the other Statehouse stories we covered this week:

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Hoosier Politics is compiled and written by the IndyStar politics and government team. Send us tips or let us know what you think of the newsletter by emailing Kaitlin.Lange@IndyStar.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Transgender sports bill poised to advance | Donnelly gets approval