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GOP budget writer picked as Indiana House speaker successor

Republicans who control the Indiana House picked a key state budget negotiator on Monday as the next speaker.

Posted: Dec 2, 2019 4:38 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republicans who control the Indiana House picked a key state budget negotiator on Monday as the next speaker.

State Rep. Todd Huston, 47, of Fishers, won the private vote among GOP House members that was held 13 days after longtime House Speaker Brian Bosma announced he would retire after the 2020 legislative session.

Huston was first elected to the Legislature in 2012 representing a Hamilton County district in the fast-growing northern Indianapolis suburbs. Huston led the House Ways and Means Committee as the new two-year state budget was negotiated earlier this year after Bosma appointed him as co-chairman following a motorcycle accident that severely injured committee Chairman Tim Brown in October 2018.

Bosma said Huston was elected unanimously as he was the only candidate nominated as speaker-elect.

Huston said he has looked forward to following Bosma in the powerful position, which largely controls which proposals the House considers and appoints leaders of its some two dozen committees reviewing legislation.

“We’re going to be aggressive in moving the state forward,” Huston said during a news conference in the House chambers. “We’re going to do it in a way that brings honor to this building.”

Bosma said he’ll work closely with Huston during the upcoming session that begins in early January and is set to adjourn in mid-March. Huston will take over GOP caucus leadership heading into the November 2020 election, when all 100 House seats will be on the ballot and Republicans will be seeking to retain their two-thirds supermajority that allows them to take action even without any Democrats present.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb praised Huston’s selection.

“He has proven himself a strong leader and has touched so many facets of state government through the budget process,” Holcomb said.

Huston is a senior vice president of the College Board, the company that administers the SAT college admissions test and high school advance placement exams. He was the state Republican Party treasurer and was chief of staff for GOP former state schools superintendent Tony Bennett before winning election to the Legislature.

Huston was Bennett’s chief of staff in 2009 and 2010 as the state schools superintendent worked with then-Gov. Mitch Daniels on contentious education overhaul plans, including launch of the nation’s broadest private school voucher program, a merit pay system for teachers and pushing for state takeover of public schools with records of low student scores on standardized exams.

Much of that agenda won legislative approval after Republicans regained House control with the 2010 election, and Bosma took over as speaker. But Bennett became a lightning rod for teacher anger and lost his 2012 reelection bid.

Huston took active role in education issues when he first joined the House, including sponsoring a bill to expand eligibility for the private school voucher program. But he soon moved to the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee and focused more on fiscal-related issues.

Huston said he didn’t believe teachers should be worried about his expanded role in the Legislature.

“I think anybody that knowns me knows the appreciation and gratitude I have for teachers and I wouldn’t anticipate that will ever change,” he said.

Huston was a top House negotiator on the new state budget approved by Republicans in April that boosted base school spending by 2.5% each of the next two years. Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders touted the plan as making strides toward improving teacher pay, but teacher unions and Democrats criticized it for not directing some of the state’s $2 billion in cash reserves toward schools.

Huston also sponsored the bill this year legalizing sports betting in the state and allowing construction of new casinos in Terre Haute and Gary.

Bosma has been the top House Republican as either speaker or minority leader since 2001. He was first speaker in 2005-2006, after which Democrats regained House control for four years, but Bosma has been speaker since 2011.

Huston’s rise represents another step in the turnover of legislative leadership after state Sen. Rodric Bray of Martinsville became the Indiana Senate’s top leader in November 2018. Bray, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, took the place of Sen. David Long of Fort Wayne, who retired after 12 years as the Senate’s president pro tem.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 35712

Reported Deaths: 2207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10037594
Lake3806202
Allen174371
Cass15927
Elkhart143529
St. Joseph132035
Hamilton118094
Hendricks118074
Johnson1120110
Madison59761
Porter55329
Clark52841
Bartholomew52238
Howard43734
LaPorte43624
Tippecanoe4214
Shelby39822
Jackson3942
Delaware38740
Hancock34928
Floyd32140
Boone31835
Vanderburgh2902
Morgan28324
Noble25121
Montgomery24417
Clinton2401
White2389
Decatur23031
Grant22123
Dubois2053
Harrison19622
Henry18412
Vigo1758
Greene17125
Dearborn17021
Monroe17012
Warrick16728
Kosciusko1661
Lawrence16524
Marshall1472
Miami1411
Putnam1377
Orange13122
Jennings1314
Scott1223
Franklin1158
Ripley1086
LaGrange1022
Daviess9516
Carroll933
Steuben872
Wayne865
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper701
Jay530
Clay522
Washington511
Rush503
Randolph503
Fulton501
Pulaski490
Jefferson471
Whitley443
DeKalb431
Starke393
Sullivan371
Owen341
Perry340
Huntington342
Brown331
Benton320
Wells320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams201
Gibson182
Parke180
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin120
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0175

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 123830

Reported Deaths: 5621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook802043780
Lake8511315
DuPage7891383
Kane6518192
Will5704282
Winnebago235457
McHenry162878
St. Clair121089
Kankakee95951
Kendall82519
Rock Island69124
Champaign6617
Madison60064
Boone48117
DeKalb4356
Sangamon35329
Jackson29310
Peoria27311
Randolph2714
McLean22413
Ogle2143
Stephenson2105
Macon19519
Clinton18817
Union16813
LaSalle15714
Whiteside14413
Iroquois1334
Coles12816
Out of IL1201
Warren1180
Unassigned1050
Grundy1042
Jefferson10116
Knox1010
Monroe9712
McDonough9413
Lee821
Tazewell785
Cass740
Williamson712
Henry700
Pulaski560
Marion510
Jasper467
Macoupin462
Adams441
Perry420
Montgomery401
Vermilion401
Morgan391
Livingston362
Christian354
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Woodford212
Ford201
Menard200
Washington190
Mason180
Bureau171
Hancock171
Mercer170
Shelby161
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Alexander120
Bond121
Crawford120
Franklin120
Fulton120
Moultrie120
Clark110
Logan110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Johnson100
Wayne91
Henderson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene60
Marshall50
Wabash50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
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