Voices echoed off the marble walls of the Indiana Statehouse and echoed through the stained-glass rotunda on Tuesday as newly elected and re-elected representatives, along with their spouses, relatives and young children, anxiously ran around the front of the House of Representatives chamber.
It was the first day for 14 freshmen and a record number of women.
The organizing day was convened by Republican Secretary of State Holli Sullivan, who opened the meeting by congratulating everyone on their election and asking everyone to stand for a prayer. Sullivan herself was a member of the House of Representatives from 2014 to 2021, when Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed her Secretary of State.
“I’m calling the Indiana House of Representatives for organizational purposes, to put things in order,” Sullivan said.
Newly elected Representative Julie McGuire, R-Indianapolis, led all of the Pledge of Allegiance as one of her first duties in office.
Almost five minutes of roll call showed that only five members had failed the first day. Chief Justice Loretta Rush swore in all 95 members present at once – a responsibility she said was one of her dearest.
All members stood, raised their right hands, and vowed to uphold the state’s constitution and do their best to support the state.
After Rep. Todd Huston, R-Anderson, was sworn in as a Member of the Assembly, he also took the oath of office as Speaker of the House. He was unanimously re-elected by his colleagues and has held this office since 2020.
He thanked God and his family for the opportunity and their support before congratulating the 14 new members on their election and their first day at the Statehouse.
“We must work every day to make Indiana a place where every resident has an opportunity to thrive… Thank you for the opportunity to chair this panel.
“I look forward to tackling challenges together and embracing the unique opportunities to make our state even better for our friends, neighbors and the next generation,” he said.
One of the first motions of the 123rd General Council was tabled to discuss the standing rules and regulations of the House. MP Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said the changes presented came as a result of trying to find best practices from around the country and returning to a normal session in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of these changes included: clarification of language and distinction between the third and last passages of the law; Allow presenters to review visual aids before in-house presentations; and changing the filing deadlines for amendments and special sessions. Smaltz said more changes will be unveiled at a later date.
They come just months after veterans’ representatives met for a controversial summer meeting that banned most abortions in the state.
“Maintaining the integrity of the home is incredibly important to all of us, and what we’re sending to the people of Indiana is that we’re leaders and understand the value of what we’re doing here,” Smaltz said. “And that takes a lot of respect and a lot of responsibility.”
The House of Representatives will not meet again until the first day of the legislature on January 9th.
Sydney Byerly is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website run by Franklin College journalism students.