The 2022 Indiana General Assembly is underway

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The 2022 General Assembly is underway — and with it, a return to the old normal.

Most of the 2021 session was held under COVID social-distancing protocols. 20 of the 50 senators sat in the balcony spectators’ gallery, and the House didn’t use the House chamber at all — it met in a large conference room in the Indiana Government Center across the street. Testimony in committee hearings was limited, and sometimes delivered on video from another room.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) say those rules have been lifted for the new session. Legislators will be back on the House and Senate floor.

Messmer says having nearly half the Senate in the balcony sometimes interfered with communication and collaboration. And he and Huston say the unusual session made it harder for freshman legislators to get to know their colleagues and build the relationships that will help them do their job effectively.

There are three new freshmen for the new session. Salem Republican J. Davisson joins the House after the death of this father, Steve. And caucuses selected Senators Rodney Pol (D-Chesterton) and Kevin Boehnlein (R-Greenville) to complete the terms of Senators Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and Ron Grooms (R-Jeffersonville), who resigned.

Huston says one remnant of social distancing rules is likely to remain, with more committee hearings than usual being held in the House chamber. The chamber normally hosts the Education and Public Health Committees, because of the large number of witnesses those hearings usually attract.

The new session technically starts less than 14 hours after the old one ended. Because of a delay in redistricting, legislators passed a one-time exception to their adjournment deadline — but even when they finished their work last month, they didn’t officially adjourn, but simply let the clock run out at midnight Monday.

Legislators will begin the 10-week session in earnest in January, and will adjourn in mid-March.

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