An e-mail from the Indiana Senate Majority Caucus:
Indiana Senate Republicans Meet, Choose Long For Pro Tem, Merritt As Caucus Chair
GOP lawmakers dive into official duties, including informal talks on balancing 2012-13 state budget
(November 3, 2010) – Indiana Senate Republicans wasted no time following Tuesday’s election to get under way with their official duties for 2011.
Thirty-two incumbents and five senators-elect gathered in Indianapolis on Wednesday, again selecting State Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne) as their choice for Senate president pro tem and re-electing State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) as majority caucus chair.
Both Long and Merritt held those key leadership posts during the past two sessions of the Indiana General Assembly.
Jennifer Mertz, an Indianapolis attorney, also received a vote of confidence to continue in her role as principal secretary of the Senate. The 2011-2012 biennium will be her second two-year term managing the day-to-day logistics of the upper chamber.
In accordance with Senate rules, the 13 Democrats who make up the minority caucus will also weigh in on Long’s and Mertz’s selections during the legislature’s official Organization Day on Nov. 16. Traditionally, the minority caucus supports the choices of the majority members.
Joining Wednesday’s meeting were five newly elected Republicans to the Indiana Senate:
- Jim Banks, a general contractor and Whitely County Council member from Columbia City;
- Doug Eckerty, a real estate investor and retired insurance professional in Yorktown;
- Ron Grooms, a pharmacist and city council member from Jeffersonville;
- Jim Smith, a personal and small business financial consultant in Charlestown; and
- Jim Tomes, a retired Teamster from Blairsville.
Long said he expects the 2011 Indiana General Assembly to be a challenging one, given lawmakers will be required to craft yet another balanced state budget amid the ongoing national recession.
“Our members and candidates have been listening closely to constituents who want us to balance the budget once again without burdening Hoosiers with tax increases,” Long said. “Hoosiers expect us to be prepared to make the tough decisions that may be necessary and to keep the books in order without games and gimmicks.”
Legislators must also redraw legislative and congressional districts in 2011, a role defined simply in the Indiana Constitution but often resulting in complicated partisan disputes.
Long said Senate Republicans openly shared last session their plans to establish and follow objective guidelines for drawing fair legislative and congressional districts based on newly compiled 2010 census data.
“We will work diligently to create simply shaped districts that preserve traditional neighborhoods and communities of interest,” Long said. “We hope our process reassures Hoosiers that their views and interests are paramount and kept in mind.”