INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Senate has a new leader for the first time in a dozen years.
Members of the Republican-dominated Senate elected Sen. Rodric Bray of Martinsville as its president pro tem during the Legislature’s Organization Day session on Tuesday.
Bray takes the place of former Sen. David Long of Fort Wayne, who retired from the Legislature after the November election. Senate Republicans had picked Bray to become their new leader after Long announced he was stepping down.
Bray is an attorney who was first elected in 2012 to succeed his father in the Senate.
Bray said he wanted to see respectful debate as legislators work on matters such as drafting a new two-year state budget during the session that starts in early January.
Indiana lawmakers are returning to the Statehouse for the ceremonial start to the new legislative session.
The Indiana House and Senate both have their annual organization day meetings set for Tuesday. The 2019 legislative session is set to begin in early January and end by late April.
The Republican-dominated Legislature must draft a two-year budget to fund school districts, universities and state agencies such as the troubled Department of Child Services. That agency has struggled with a big increase in child welfare cases and high turnover among overworked case workers.
Legislators could also face a contentious debate over a push for a state hate crimes law. Indiana is one of just five states without one.