Republican leaders of the Indiana House and Senate have answered Democratic calls to donate their earnings from a special session planned for May.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he plans to make a personal donation to charity that would far exceed his pay during the upcoming special session of the Indiana General Assembly, and he’s challenging others to follow suit. He also said the session could be completed in as little as one day.
President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said GOP leaders in the Senate will donate their pay, mileage and per-day compensation to the Military Family Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance to veterans and their families for basic needs including food, housing, medical services and education. The fund is administered by the state through the Indiana Veterans’ Affairs Commission.
On Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered lawmakers to return to the Statehouse sometime in May for a special session after lawmakers failed to come to consensus on several bills by the time this year's session ended March 13. Republican leaders blamed themselves for not meeting the deadline in a General Assembly controlled by GOP supermajorities in both the House and Senate.
The special session is expected to address bills involving school safety, gun rights and tax system adjustments, among others, at an estimated cost of about $30,000 per day. Lawmakers receive $173 per-day compensation in addition to their annual salaries. Some legislators had already publicly announced plans to donate their per-day pay from the special session.
House and Senate Democratic leaders Terry Goodin and Tim Lanane are among those who have said they will donate their pay. On Tuesday, the Indiana Democratic Party called on Bosma and Long to do the same.
Long said lawmakers are required by state law to take their pay, but they are able to donate it back to the state or a charity.
“While it is entirely up to each individual legislator what to do with their per diem payment, we are encouraging our colleagues to follow our lead and donate to the MFRF," Long said. "We believe this is the right thing to do.”
On Wednesday morning, Bosma told reporters that he and his wife, Cheryl, will donate $1,500 to the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy. He challenged Goodin, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody and Indianapolis Star columnist Tim Swarens to follow suit with donations of their own. Swarens wrote a column this week criticizing lawmakers for needing a special session and encouraged them to donate their pay,
“I’m going to take it just a little step further,” Bosma said. “There’s been some who have been trying to make political hay out of this, so I’m challenging (Swarens, Zody and Goodin) to match Cheryl and I’s personal contribution of $1,500 to IARCA.”
Bosma said he's also encouraging other Republican House members to donate their per-day pay to the not-for-profit.
And Bosma said the special session should be as short as possible. He said the remaining bills could be tackled in one day if legislators vote to suspend some procedural rules.
“Let’s just say it wasn’t perfect, and we’ll acknowledge that,” Bosma said about the end of the session this year.