GOP lawmaker pushes bill to prevent renaming of Indianapolis

A Republican lawmaker has proposed a measure that would ban the changing of any Indiana city names in the wake of Native American protests that forced the renaming of professional sports teams.

No efforts have emerged seeking to change the name of Indiana or Indianapolis along the lines of those that prompted recent decisions to rename the NFL’s Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise.

“I call it a preemptive measure,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jack Sandlin of Indianapolis. “People know Indianapolis worldwide. … Losing our identity could have a significant economic impact.”

The bill being considered by a state Senate committee would prohibit the four cities named in the state Constitution — Indianapolis, Clarksville, Vincennes and Evansville—and some 140 cities referenced in state laws from name changes, The Times reported.

The state of Indiana is named in recognition of the Native American tribes that lived in the area for centuries before the arrival of European and American settlers. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in July there’s no chance Indiana will be renamed.

Sandlin, at first, said during a Senate committee hearing Thursday that the bill was necessary because allowing the renaming of cities would require too much work to update the Indiana code or amend the state Constitution.

Democratic senators said they believed the proposal was another attempt by Republican legislators to usurp the authority of city governments, such as GOP-backed prohibitions in recent years on local minimum wage increases, gun regulations and plastic bag bans.

“I think we’re overstepping our bounds,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor of Indianapolis.

The sports team name changes followed a national movement, which gained momentum in the wake of widespread civil rights protests last summer, to have prejudicial names and symbols removed.

A Republican senator from far southwestern Indiana said he believed a city name-change ban might be warranted.

“Let’s not fool ourselves — we’ve seen a lot things going on in the last 10, 11 months,” said Sen. Jim Tomes of Wadesville.

The committee chairman, Republican Sen. Jim Buck of Kokomo, said he allowed a hearing on the bill because he was concerned about wasting tourism promotion money if cities could change their names for any reason. He didn’t call for a vote on the bill Thursday to give Sandlin time to consider revisions.

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10 thoughts on “GOP lawmaker pushes bill to prevent renaming of Indianapolis

  1. The name Indianapolis should remain as is, but the rationale for this measure is absolutely baffling. A sports team with a disputed logo and or name is quite different from a city name. Has there been a suggestion to rename Sioux Falls, SD? Or, is there imminent fear that Wabash (once Oubache) may need to be renames. What about other place names throughout the nation that, essentially, reflect anglicization of native names or references.

    Might it be better however to propose a measure to define specifically if and how a name would be allowed to change. Should citizens in a fictional “Roachesburg” propose to change the name, there should be a policy to do so and the local residents should have control in the process. Of course, restrictions should exist for insulting, crude, suggestive, ambiguous, or salacious names.

    1. We are still in midst of a dangerous crisis with the pandemic, our economy is threatened, and our political stability has been undermined and this is the sort of nonsensical crap that Indiana legislators decide warrant their attention? When will the voters stop sending such braindead representatives to the General Assembly?

      Moreover, there is already a process at the local level for renaming municipalities, and the process should be left up to these local communities and their elected officials to make such decisions.

  2. And here I was going to start a movement to rename Indianapolis Sandlinville after this fine Republican, with his laser focus on the pressing issues faced by Hoosiers as we come out of a global pandemic.

    1. I get the nature of your post. I even snickered a bit. But I wonder if what prompted this rep to propose such legislation is the absolute insanity of our current socio-political climate.
      The prospect of our current Cancel Culture would have been unthinkable 20-30 years ago…yet here we are.

    2. What draws my ire is that these are the same legislators who complain about government overreach from Washington. Local control for me, but not for thee.

      I don’t see much of a correlation between military bases named after treasonous Confederate generals and the names of cities and towns in Indiana, but then again I don’t spend time in a conservative media ecosystem.

      I personally think they’d be much more wise to actually let someone propose this and sound like a nut, then come in and be able to defend it. I doubt there’s very much traction for renaming any cities in Indiana, especially since Indianapolis translates to Indiana City.

  3. I mean I get not renaming Indianapolis, but why do I feel this is being pushed by racist elements within the GOP? I don’t think renaming Indianapolis is necessary whatsoever, but doing this when literally no one brought it up seems more like they’re just appealing to racist supporters who miss the Washington Redskin’s name for no reason other than hating liberals. I’m just glad I left Indiana, and don’t have to worry about the GOP affecting my life other than the property value on my house in Indy. The Indiana GOP seems more representative of Mississippi than Indiana, but I guess that’s what happens when districts are gerrymandered to the point they are.

    1. The GOP wonders why they’re unelectable in Indianapolis. They have no ideas for Indianapolis, they just want to tell Indianapolis what not to do.

    1. Remember, this is the guy who wants the state to take control of IMPD.


      In Indianapolis, there is no “problem” that the Gerrymandering Old Party thinks is a local issue.

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