INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State lawmakers returned to the Capitol Tuesday and they brought some political drama along with them.
It was an Organization Day in the General Assembly unlike any other starting with the first long distance oath taking.
State Senator Jim Banks is half a world away but he was still sworn into office via Skype.
Banks, a Republican from Columbia City, is an officer in the Naval Reserve currently serving with an Army unit in Afghanistan. He is taking a leave of absence from the state Senate but needed to be sworn in first.
It was the same oath that was given first to the 100 members of the Indiana House and then to re-elected House Speaker Brian Bosma.
On hand was Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero) who has promised to resign in the wake of an ethics scandal, and ethics was a major theme in remarks made by the Speaker.
“We’re already consulting national ethics experts,” said Speaker Bosma, “trying to find a state of the art for part-time legislatures around the country and we’re going to make it happen.”
Elsewhere in the Statehouse, newly elected Republican Kelly Mitchell was sworn in early as State Treasurer.
“I am so excited to get to work,” she said.
Mitchell will complete the term vacated by Richard Mourdock in September.
Back in the state Senate, there was also a vacancy at the desk of Mike Delph, the Carmel Republican who just survived a tough re-election bid.
He is on vacation.
When he comes back, Delph will join a GOP super majority that grew on Election Day, but Senate Leader David Long says a swing to the right is unlikely.
“We’re a pretty conservative body already. I don’t think so,” said Sen. Long. “I think we’ll continue to have a strong conservative voice here.”
Representative Turner had to be sworn in before he could resign. Sen. Delph had approval from Senate leadership to go on vacation.
GOP party leaders will choose a temporary replacement for Banks in coming days.