Indiana General Assembly

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Indiana General Assembly

Seal of Indiana.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 6, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Sue Ellspermann (R)
House Speaker:  Brian Bosma (R)
Majority Leader:   Brandt Hershman (R) (Senate),
Jud McMillin (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Timothy Lanane (D) (Senate),
Scott Pelath (D) (House)
Members:  50 (Senate), 100 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art 4, Indiana Constitution
Salary:   $22,616.46/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
25 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
25 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Indiana Legislature has control
The Indiana General Assembly is the state legislature, or legislative branch, of the state of Indiana. It is a bicameral legislature that consists of a lower house, the Indiana House of Representatives, and an upper house, the Indiana State Senate. The state legislature meets in the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

As of May 2015, Indiana is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Indiana House of Representatives, Indiana State Senate, Indiana Governor


Article 4 of the Indiana Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to be in session. Section 9 of Article 4 states that the General Assembly will begin its regular session on the Tuesday following the second Monday in January of each year. However, Section 9 allows the starting state for the session to be changed by law. This has happened in Indiana in 2010, as the General Assembly's session convened on January 5th instead of the constitutionally designated date, which was January 12th. The session must adjourn by April 29 in odd numbered years and March 14 in even numbered years.[1]

Section 9 also gives the Governor of Indiana the power to call special sessions of the General Assembly.

Bills may be pre-filed in the Senate thirty days prior to the start of the session.[2] House filing begins on the opening day of the session.[3]


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the General Assembly was in session from January 6 through April 29.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session included an increase in education funding, funding for roads and bridges, Sunday alcohol sales and funding last year's criminal code overhaul.[4]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the General Assembly was in session from January 6 through March 14.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, elimination of the state tax on business equipment and education reforms, including whether or not Indiana should continue participating in "Common Core."


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 to April 29.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included education funding, utility bills, riverboat gambling, and regulation of how much pseudoephedrine individuals can buy annually.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Assembly was in session from January 4 through March 14.

Major issues

Main issues included "Right-to-work" legislation, a statewide smoking ban, a tax raise to finance a mass transit system, and eliminating the state's inheritance tax.[6] The issue at the heart of the matter was "right-to-work" legislation that Republicans long said would be their top priority in 2012. The legislation sought to ban companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to pay union dues. Republicans argued the move would bring jobs to the state while Democrats said it would lead to lower wages.[7]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 5 through April 29.

Session highlights

In the 2011 session, the Indiana legislature reduced the corporate income tax from 8.5 to 6.5 percent, spread over four years.[8]

Clerical error

On June 30, the state's largest agency, the Family and Social Services Administration, was accidentally eliminated, due to a major clerical error during the drafting of legislation related to the Family and Social Services Administration. The Administration helps more than a million people access Medicaid and food stamps in Indiana.[9]

According to the AP, "Senate Bill 331 was intended to repeal a provision already in law that would have automatically eliminated (the Family and Social Services Administration) - called a sunset. The sunset language was set for June 30. The bill that repealed the sunset provision went into effect July 1, so technically, FSSA was eliminated minutes before the bill intended to save it went into effect."[9]

The mistake was noticed days after the new law went into effect, and caught many welfare recipients and legislative leaders off guard. On July 7, Governor Mitch Daniels signed an executive order on Thursday, July 7, to correct the mistake.[9]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly was in session from January 5th to March 12th.

Role in state budget

See also: Indiana state budget and finances
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The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[10][11]

  1. In May of the year preceding the beginning of the new biennium, budget instructions and guidelines are sent to state agencies.
  2. In August, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor
  3. Hearings are held with state agencies from September to November.
  4. Public hearings on the budget are held from September to March.
  5. The governor submits his or her budget to the state legislature in February.
  6. The legislature typically adopts a budget in April, effective for the fiscal biennium beginning in July. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

There are no constitutional or statutory provisions mandating that the governor must submit or the legislature must pass a balanced budget. Budget deficits may be carried over to the next biennium.[11]

Indiana is one of only six states in which the governor cannot exercise line item veto authority.[11]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Indiana was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[12]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[13] According to the report, Indiana received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 94, indicating that Indiana was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[13]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Indiana was given a grade of D in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[14]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Indiana legislature are paid $22,616.46/year. Additionally, legislators receive $152/day per diem tied to the federal rate.[15]


Indiana legislators created a 401(k) plan for themselves in 1989, becoming the first in the nation to do so. Lawmakers who took office after April 1989 were ineligible for the traditional pension plan, receiving the individual retirement account instead.

Legislators pay 5% of their annual salary into the 401(k). In 2007, they voted to include per diem allowances, expense payments and leadership stipends into the calculation, thus raising their retirement accounts.[16]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Indiana legislators assume office the day after their general election.


The Indiana State Senate consists of 50 members elected to 4-year terms without term limits. Each member represents an average of 129,676 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[17] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 121,610.[18] The Lieutenant Governor, currently Becky Skillman, presides over the senate while it is in session and casts the deciding vote in the event of a tie. The current Senate Pro Tempore is Sen. David Long of Fort Wayne.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 10
     Republican Party 40
Total 50

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Indiana State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Indiana State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The Indiana House of Representatives consists of 100 members elected to 2-year terms without term limits. Each member represents an average of 64,838 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[19] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 60,805.[20]

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 29
     Republican Party 71
Total 100

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Indiana State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Indiana State House.PNG


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Indiana
Partisan breakdown of the Indiana legislature from 1992-2013

Indiana State Senate: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Indiana State Senate. The Indiana State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final three years of the study, Indiana was under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Indiana State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Indiana State House of Representatives for seven years while the Democrats were the majority for 13 years. During the final three years of the study, Indiana was under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Indiana, the Indiana State Senate and the Indiana House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Indiana state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Indiana state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Indiana had a long period of divided government between 1992 and 2004 until the arrival of a Republican trifecta in 2005. Indiana reverted back to divided government between 2007 and 2010 before reverting yet again to a Republican trifecta in 2011. The state has never had a Democratic trifecta. Indiana’s highest SQLI ranking came in 1995 (12th) under divided government, while the state’s lowest SQLI ranking came in 2009 (34th), also under divided government. The state’s greatest leap in the ranking occurred between 1994 and 1995, where Indiana rose seven spots. Its greatest decline in the ranking occurred between 2003 and 2004, where the state dropped seven spots.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 29.25
  • SQLI average with divided government: 20.82
Chart displaying the partisanship of Indiana government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links


  1. IN Legislature FAQ
  2. Senate Rule 42
  3. House Rule PART VIII.B
  4., "4 Issues To Watch In The Upcoming State Legislative Session," January 3, 2015
  5., "Legislators sort key issues of the General Assembly's 2013 session," April 28, 2013
  6. Indianapolis Star, "Lawmakers face rematch with 'thousand-pound gorilla'," January 3, 2012
  7. Indianapolis Star, "Rare joint hearing accelerates 'right to work' bill," January 6, 2012
  8., "States balance budgets with cuts, not taxes," June 15, 2011(Archived)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Pew Charitable Trusts, "Clerical error eliminates Indiana's largest state agency," July 11, 2011
  10. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  12. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  14. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  15., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  16. USA Today, "How state lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," April 16, 2012
  17., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  18. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  19., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  20. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001