Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington lawmakers discuss cost of special session

Indiana lawmakers receive an average of about $60,000 a year in public compensation. This includes a base salary, a per-day salary and mileage. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Indiana lawmakers made a base salary of $25,435.98 a year in 2017. From there, they were paid $161 a day when not in session and $175 a day when in session. Caucus leaders and committee chairs also get a certain compensation, and lawmakers get compensated for mileage and hotels. 

That means the special session Gov. Eric Holcomb called could cost around $30,000 a day, which has caused concern among local lawmakers. 

“That price for a special session seems outrageous,” Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said. “When I think about the $30,000 a day, it boggles my mind.”



Stoops said both of the issues that the legislature will look at in the special session could have easily been accomplished during the regular session. Holcomb said his top priorities for the session, which will take place in May, are the issues of tax compliance, education and school safety.

“I was even amazed halfway through the session how poorly it was going,” Stoops said. “It didn’t seem to be well-managed and leading up to the last week of session.”

When he announced the session March 19, Holcomb said the session should only last a few days. Still, lawmakers worry about the cost.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said the additional cost of the special session is still probably in the budget the Indiana General Assembly has, but it’s still an additional cost. 

“There is an additional cost so it’s a shame that that has to be born,” Pierce said.



Many lawmakers have come out and said they will be donating their pay to charities, such as the Military Family Relief Fund, or toward assisting children in the foster care system.

While Holcomb urged legislators to only focus on the two issues he outlined, it doesn’t mean lawmakers can't propose new legislation.

Stoops said he plans to file a bill for gun control regulations that he hopes can pass during the special session.

“I don’t know the Republicans can have any excuse not to hear it, unless they are still completely controlled by the gun lobby and NRA,” Stoops said.

Stoops said a lot of the mismanagement this session was because of gerrymandered legislative districts, which were drawn in a way to favor one political party. Republicans have created districts that gave them a supermajority, meaning they control the process from start to finish. 

Pierce said it’s embarrassing for an institution Republicans control from top to bottom. 

“There really is no excuse to not get the work done on time,” Pierce said. 

Stoops said if the legislative mix of party affiliations was changed to create more competitive districts, there would be a lot greater discussion on bills in session. 

He added he thinks many of Indiana’s districts will change party in the midterm election, and if not during the midterm, then definitely the 2020 election. 

“Voting is critical,” Stoops said.

Other Indiana legislators:





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