Indiana Legislative Update – It’s Salamander Time…Again

How is gerrymandering like a salamander? In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a law that established an odd-shaped Congressional district. It was redrawn by political cartoonists into a salamander-type creature and thus the term gerrymander was born. Gerrymandering is “to divide a geographic area into voting districts in a way that gives one party an unfair advantage in elections.”

Every ten years – based on the newest Census data – Indiana legislators draw new maps for our nine US Congressional seats, the 50 State Senate seats, and the 100 State Representative seats. Indiana House Republican leaders shared the initial draft of maps for the Congressional and House seats. The House Elections Committee will meet tomorrow and again on Thursday to hear public testimony on the maps with the full House expected to meet next week to vote on them. Also next week, the maps for the Indiana Senate seats will be released in advance of Senate Election Committee hearings and a full vote in the Senate the week of September 27th.

The 8th Congressional District (where SW IN sits, currently represented by Dr. Larry Bucshon), has covered territory from the SW tip of Posey County, east through Perry County to parts of Crawford County and north to Vermillion County (north of Terre Haute). The map proposed today has the 8th district running from the SW tip of the state to a little further north of the old boundary, now ending in Fountain County. On the south end, the district runs east to include Crawford County, then goes northwest including Orange, Martin and Greene Counties.

Currently, our seats in the Indiana House include:

  • District 64 (Rep. Matt Hostettler): NW corner of Vanderburgh County, Poseyville in Posey County, Gibson County, Southern portion of Knox County
  • District 76 (Rep. Wendy McNamara): Most all of Posey County and the southwestern quarter of Vanderburgh County
  • District 77 (Rep. Ryan Hatfield): East of the Pigeon Creek, cutting southwest and staying north of Deaconess Midtown to the Lloyd Expressway, to the southeast to the Warrick County line
  • District 78 (Rep. Tim O’Brien): Northwest third of Vanderburgh County and much of Newburgh in Warrick County
  • District 75 (Rep. Cindy Ledbetter): the rest of Warrick County, much of Pike County, western portions of Spencer County
  • District 63 (Rep. Shane Lindauer): portions of Pike and Daviess Counties and most of Dubois County
  • District 74 (Rep. Steve Bartels): The rest of Spencer County, Perry County, and portions of Dubois, Crawford, and Orange Counties

The proposed versions of the maps show these districts for our corner of the state. You can see the map here.

  • District 64: Armstrong & Scott Townships in Vanderburgh County, most all of Gibson County, and the southern half of Knox County
  • District 76: All of Posey County; all of German, Perry & Union Townships and a portion of Center Township in Vanderburgh County
  • District 77: Most all of Pigeon Township and the southern half of Knight Township in Vanderburgh County
  • District 78: The remainder of Center and Knight Townships in Vanderburgh County plus the Southwestern corner of Ohio Township in Warrick County
  • District 75: The rest of Warrick County, Barton and Columbia Townships in Gibson County and most of Pike County
  • District 63: Portions of Pike, Dubois, Daviess, and Martin Counties
  • District 74: All of Spencer, Perry, and Crawford Counties, plus portions of Dubois and Orange Counties

We are still learning more about these proposed maps and the impacts to existing legislators – in SW IN and across the State. As House Republicans shared the maps today, they announced that the proposal increases the number of counties wholly contained within one House district from 26-32. There are also 22 fewer township splits where a single township is represented by multiple House districts.

The House Election Committee hearings will be broadcast online for those wishing to watch. The hearing Wednesday is at 12:00 Noon Central time or on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. Central time

In other Statehouse news, last Friday, September 10th, Marion County Superior Court Judge Patrick Dietrick heard arguments in the case re: the Governor’s lawsuit against the emergency powers legislation (HEA1123) passed last session. We expect more news on the hearing later this month.

And, yes, the COVID pandemic is still burning. Last week, President Biden released a six-part plan to battle COVID, including a requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees to require COVID vaccinations or weekly testing of employees. The plan also includes vaccine requirements for federal workers, health care providers receiving Medicare and Medicaid and staff of federal Head Start programs. Overall, it could affect more than 100 million workers. In a statement, Holcomb expressed, “I believe the vaccine is the number one tool that will protect us and our loved ones against COVID-19. It is the tool that will end the pandemic. However, I strongly believe it’s not the state or federal government’s role to issue a vaccine mandate upon citizens and private businesses. This is the approach our administration has taken all along. The announcement from President Biden is a bridge too far…”  Earlier today, reporter Adam Wren noted that in 2017, Holcomb signed a bill – passed by overwhelming majorities in both the GOP controlled House and Senate – requiring students at IN public colleges and universities to be vaccinated against meningitis.

Employers wishing to be recognized for their efforts to get employees vaccinated can participate in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s “COVID Stops Here” campaign. Companies with at least a 70% vaccination rate can receive the designation, which could have a positive impact on employee safety and morale as well as positively influence the relationship with customers, visitors, and partners.

COVID BY THE NUMBERS:

  • As of Monday morning, the State has reported 910,013 positive cases, 14,391 total deaths, 4,052,405 individuals tested, and 12,866,248 total tests administered. There are an additional 457 probable Covid-19 deaths (symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).  All of this is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov.
  • The positivity rate for ALL tests administered is 8.6% from the beginning of testing and 11.7% for the 7-days ending on 09/06. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 22.5% since the beginning of testing and is 20.3% for the 7 days ending 09/06 (rates trail by 7 days to account for lagging reports).
  • The color-coded county metrics (combines: new cases per 100,000 people in the last week and 7-day positivity rates) updated each Wednesday has Vanderburgh County in orange (moderate to high community spread) completely surrounded by all other SW IN Counties in red (high community spread). You can find these metrics and how they are calculated by choosing the “County Metrics” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The state also publishes county-level 7-day positivity rates for all tests given. Currently, SW Indiana rates as of 09/06 are: Gibson 12.3%, Posey 17.1%, Vanderburgh 14%, Warrick 17.6%, and Spencer 17%. You can find the county-level information by choosing the “Positivity” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The Vaccination Dashboard shows that through 09/13, 3,169,433 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This is 54% of Hoosiers over the age of 12 fully vaccinated and SW IN is above average with 57.25% of residents 12+ in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh & Warrick fully vaccinated. More than 80% of Hoosiers over the age of 65 are now fully vaccinated.  
  • There are 500+ testing sites across the state. You are encouraged to get tested if you have any symptoms or have had contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • You can see any of the Governor’s Executive Orders here