Lawmakers try to restore Judy O’Bannon’s pension

Indiana Statehouse
Indiana Statehouse (WISH Photo/ Marcie Mangan)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon has lost her state pension and key state lawmakers are now working to get it back.

For over ten years, Judy O’Bannon collected the pension earned by her late husband Frank. Then, she got remarried late last year and the money stopped.

Thursday, a conference committee in the General Assembly met to consider a pension bill that would, among other things, restore Judy O’Bannon’s pension.

Frank O’Bannon died while in office in 2003, and under state law his pension went to Judy, but five words in that law changed everything when she married Donald Willsey.

The law says the pension is for life “unless the surviving spouse remarries.”  The bill now under consideration simply eliminates those five words.

Republican Woody Burton is the author.

“She’s moving on with her life and I don’t think you should cut her off just because of that,” he said.

“It’s an archaic law. It shouldn’t occur,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long. “Frank O’Bannon earned that pension and so did Judy and she deserves it so we’re going to try and fix that.”

No one even mentioned the O’Bannon provision at the conference committee meeting. It must still be approved by both the House and Senate.

Worth noting, Frank O’Bannon was a Democrat and it’s Republicans who are working behind the scenes to get this law changed. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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