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Elections, commerce get new Senate committee chairs


Elections, commerce get new Senate committee chairs

Nov 20, 2023 | 11:10 am ET
By Whitney Downard
Elections, commerce get new Senate committee chairs
Sens. Brian Buchanan and Mike Gaskill will be the new chairs of the Elections and Commerce committees, respectively. (Photos from the Indiana Senate Republicans)

Two Senate committees will see new chairs following the resignations of two senators in recent months, shuffling leadership roles within the Republican caucus.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, announced that Sen. Mike Gaskill will helm the Senate Committee on Elections while Sen. Brian Buchanan will lead the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology.

Gaskill, R-Pendleton, succeeds Terre Haute’s Sen. Jon Ford, who resigned in September to join Reliable Energy, a company that promotes the use of coal and other fossil fuels. Ford played a pivotal role in the expansion of the state’s gaming industry and reforming the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which saw its first increase in three decades after his legislation.

“I am honored to have been chosen to serve as chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections,” Gaskill said in a release. “I look forward to the challenge of maintaining and improving the integrity of our elections by working with my fellow senators on the committee and with the House Committee on Elections.”

A caucus chose Greg Goode, the former executive director of Government Relations and University Communications for Indiana State University, as Ford’s replacement.

Buchanan’s term as chair follows Sen. Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg, who announced his resignation, citing personal reasons, in late August. Randy Maxwell was sworn in as Perfect’s successor in September.

“It is an honor to be asked to serve as chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology,” Buchanan said in another release. “Supporting Indiana businesses that create good jobs is a top priority of the General Assembly, and I look forward to working with both the public and private sectors to review legislation and keep the Hoosier economy going strong.”

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Bray applauded the two senators.

“Sens. Gaskill and Buchanan have big shoes to fill, but I know they are up for the challenge,” Bray said in a statement. “Both senators have proven themselves to be highly competent and thoughtful leaders during their tenure in the Senate. I am confident they will take on these new responsibilities with the utmost respect for the legislative process and will be ever cognizant of the impact the public policy discussions and actions taken in their committees may have on Hoosiers across the state.”

Gaskill and Buchanan, of Lebanon, will chair their first meetings during the 2024 session, which formally starts on Tuesday during a ceremonial event known as Organization Day. Legislators will return Jan. 8 to begin their legislative business.

This story has been updated to include comments from Sens. Gaskill and Buchanan.