RFRA champion Schneider won’t seek re-election to Senate

State Sen. Scott Schneider, one of the primary authors of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said Saturday that he will not seek re-election and thus will leave office when his third term expires in November 2016.

Schneider, an Indianapolis Republican, was a polarizing force at the Statehouse during last spring’s passage of RFRA, which was followed quickly by passage of an amendment aimed at appeasing critics who said the measure would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Some RFRA opponents last spring organized a boycott against Schneider’s family business, Mister Ice of Indianapolis, one of the largest suppliers of ice machines in central Indiana.

Schneider said in a statement that it is the rapid expansion of that business that is prompting him to announce with a “heavy heart” that he will not run again.

“Our family business is growing and expanding,” said Schneider, Mr. Ice’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Already this year, we have increased our workforce by more than 30 percent, and we will soon break ground on a building expansion to double our size. With this growth, I will need to focus all of my time and energy on the business my father started 50 years ago.

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) praised Schneider “as a strong leader for his constituents and our state.”

Schneider represents District 30, which encompasses portions of northern Marion County and southern Hamilton County.

He’s been an outspoken fiscal and social conservative in the 50-member chamber, supporting measures to hold down property taxes and make the property-tax appeal process friendlier to taxpayers.

In 2011, Schneider introduced an amendment to withhold taxpayer money from abortion providers, which passed overwhelmingly and was signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

He also co-authored school choice legislation, led the effort to move the state away from the Common Core education standards and co-sponsored Indiana’s right-to-work law.

Schneider served in the Indianapolis City-County Council from 1999 to 2007.

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