Indiana Legislative Update – Next Up: The Senate Maps

Since the maps for Indiana’s Congressional and House seats were unveiled last week, the House Election Committee members listened to several hours of public testimony over two hearing days last week. On Monday, the Committee met again to consider amendments and vote HB1581 out to the full House. Besides accepting the maps as outlined last week (all contained in one amendment), members also accepted another amendment that slightly adjusted the House districts in Fort Wayne/Allen County to prevent cutting an apartment complex into 2 districts. The amendment also adjusted a few precincts so that each of the Congressional districts deviate from the ideal number of constituents by no more than 1 individual.

After a brief discussion, the House Elections Committee voted to pass HB1581 along a party-line vote of 9-4. On Monday afternoon, the full House met to consider the Committee report – a necessary step in the process, so that the bill can be considered for a vote later this week. The House is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday to consider the bill on 2nd Reading, where any House member can offer amendments – likely the House Democrats will offer their own set of maps and/or offer tweaks to specific districts/regions. The House will also add the Senate map to the bill via amendment. Then, on Thursday, the House will take a final vote on the maps before the Senate takes up debate next week.

As the House convened Monday, they took time to mourn the passing of Rep. Steve Davisson, who died Sunday after a battle with cancer. Rep. Davisson was remembered by all as a kind, hard-working legislator who was committed to his family and community. Speaker Huston took the opportunity to also acknowledge former Rep. Dan Forestal, who died in July after a relatively public struggle with mental health and addiction. Huston talked about the battles that both men fought and encouraged the House members to “get to know your colleagues, as there are truly good men and women on both sides of the aisle.” He acknowledged the challenges that COVID has presented in doing that over the past year, but that only increases the imperative need to do so.

Earlier today, the Senate GOP announced their version of the Senate maps. There is a bit of change for SW Indiana, but not substantial. Currently our seats in the Indiana Senate include:

  • District 49 (Sen. Jim Tomes): All of Posey County, the western half of Vanderburgh County (all or parts of Union, Perry, Pigeon, German, Armstrong & Scott Townships), and the southern half of Gibson County (Wabash, Montgomery, Johnson, Union & Barton Townships)
  • District 50 (Sen. Vaneta Becker): The remainder of Vanderburgh County (Center & Knight Townships) and the western third of Warrick County (Ohio, Campbell & Greer Townships)
  • District 48 (Sen. Mark Messmer): The remainder of Warrick County; the northern half of Gibson County; all of Spencer, Pike & Knox Counties; and the western half of Dubois County

The proposed new Senate districts show:  

  • District 49: All of Posey County and all of Union, Perry, German, Armstrong & Scott Townships, plus portions of Knight and Center Townships in Vanderburgh County
  • District 50: The remainder of Vanderburgh County (portions of Knight and Center Townships) and all of Warrick County
  • District 48: All of Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Spencer, Perry and Crawford Counties

Similar to the House announcement last week, we know that the Senate maps keeps 65 counties whole as part of a district (up from 49 counties before), 96% of townships are kept whole and 92% of cities/towns are kept whole. There are four open seats (none near SW IN) and four sets of incumbents drawn together (none near SW IN). The Senate Elections Committee will meet next Monday to hear public comment and again on Tuesday to vote. The bill will be before the full Senate next Thursday for 2nd Reading (amendments from the floor are considered) and for final vote next Friday.  

If you’re interested in learning more about the Indiana redistricting process and implications, hear from Indiana political panelists in this ~10 minute video from Indy Fox59.

In an indication that the current COVID wave may have peaked earlier this month, COVID hospitalization and ICU numbers have trended down over the last week, though today’s report did snap a six-day streak of lower numbers for both instances. Currently, there are 2,477 COVID patients in the hospital (45 more than yesterday) with 685 of those in ICU (8 more than yesterday).

Employers can still participate in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s “COVID Stops Here” campaign if they wish to be recognized for vaccination rates. 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:

  • Today, the State reported 2,673 new positive cases (937,221 total), 81 new deaths (14,765 total), 6,791 new individuals tested (4,121,821 total), and 32,483 new tests administered (13,204,869 total). There are an additional 474 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 8.7% from the beginning of testing and 11.3% for the 7-days ending on 09/14. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 22.7% since the beginning of testing and is 20.6% for the 7 days ending 09/14 (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 last Wednesday has Vanderburgh and Posey Counties in orange (moderate to high community spread). All other SW IN Counties are 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 09/14 are: Gibson 11.4%, Posey 12.8%, Vanderburgh 12.3%, Warrick 15.6%, and Spencer 13.2%. 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 09/20, 3,221,558 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This is 54.9% of Hoosiers over the age of 12 fully vaccinated and SW IN remains above average with 58.3% of residents 12+ in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh & Warrick fully vaccinated. More than 80% of Hoosiers over the age of 65 and more than 60% aged 50-65 are 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