Impact of Indiana Statehouse week-long closure

Politics

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Small and peaceful protests at the Indiana statehouse have some questioning the purpose of week-long shutdown.

Indiana State Police, Governor Eric Holcomb, and legislative leadership decided to close it for the week due to threats of potential violent inauguration protests.

However, inauguration protests remained peaceful this week. At one point on Wednesday, protesters started handing out bowls of chili.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said he understands why some people might be frustrated they shutdown government work. Some believed increased security would have been enough.

“I certainly get that, but you have to take everything in context and two weeks ago we saw a horrific scene in Washington D.C. And you have to keep that in the back of your mind at the very least,” said Bray. “You also have to be very thankful that it was peaceful. I wouldn’t want to wish for the other just to show that we were right.”

State police advised Sen. Bray and others to close down out of an abundance of caution.

He said the alternative if they hadn’t listened could’ve been worse.

“We would find ourselves in a very untenable position,” explained Bray.

Whether the same bills that would have been heard in committee this week will be heard in the future is unknown. It’s up to each committee chair to decide what they have time for — between this and potential COVID-19 closures—it might get tight.

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that we may have fewer bills that actually end up becoming law,” said Democratic State Rep. Terri Austin.

Bray said this delay was also a bit of a test run if lawmakers do need to break for quarantine.

“We’ve gotten a lot of work done this week,” said Bray.

Though committee meetings and session couldn’t happen virtually, lawmakers were still able to discuss legislation with constituents and each other. Reporter Kayla Sullivan asked if this closure could set precedence for future protests if people merely threaten violence.

“I am cognizant of that fact, there’s no doubt about it,” said Bray. “But we are not going to go there. You are never going to find us get to that point.”

Lawmakers return to the statehouse on Monday.

Extra security is expected.

Their end date is still scheduled for April 29 but the governor could call them into a special session if more work is necessary.

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