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Posted on: Aug 21, 2020

Bosma’s Retirement from the Indiana General Assembly Significant for Local Government Issues

By Scott Chinn, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Longtime Indiana State Representative and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma resigned his seat effective July 31. In March, Bosma stepped down as Speaker, having previously indicated he would retire from the House and not seek reelection in 2020.  

Bosma’s retirement comes after 34 years as a lawmaker. And he was the longest-serving House speaker in state history with 12 years total in the position.

The immediate implications from Bosma’s retirement are that House Republicans selected Rep. Todd Huston (R) of District 37 to replace Bosma as Speaker. In the race to succeed Bosma in House District 88, Republican Chris Jeter will square off against Democrat Pam Dechert in the General Election this fall. Jeter is an estate planning lawyer in Fishers. Dechert does professional and volunteer management focusing on non-profits. District 88 is made up of the northeastern corner of Indianapolis and nearby sections of Hamilton and Hancock counties.

Many House members on both sides of the aisle are familiar with local government issues. But Bosma’s exit from lawmaking is significant in terms of the loss of institutional knowledge and history of those issues from the General Assembly’s leadership. Bosma’s tenure saw legislation in a number of areas important to local governments, including tax caps, elections and government consolidation.

Perhaps even more significant than higher profile legislation passed or halted in recent years is Bosma’s knowledge of the whole range of nuts-and-bolts issues that local governments deal with. Not only is Bosma a lawyer, but is himself a long-time municipal lawyer versed in a broad array of local government legal issues, including public finance, utilities, land use, environmental and public contracting. Bosma is the chair of the Government Practice Group of Kroger Gardis & Regas. Bosma has also been actively involved in the IndyBar’s annual lawyer-legislator luncheon in which members of the Indiana General Assembly who are lawyers meet with IndyBar members to discuss trends and important issues during each year’s legislative session.

It isn’t completely clear what legislative issues Bosma will stay active on in the future. But 1816 Public Affairs Group, LLC recently announced that Bosma will be partnering with that lobbying firm “as an exclusive consultant to our firm and help advise our dynamic roster of clients.” According to the announcement, Bosma will continue in his legal practice at Kroger Gardis & Regas and that 1816 will team with “KGR to partner on other lobbying and public affairs matters and ensure that our clients have access to the best legal advice.”

Bosma’s departure arguably makes it even more important to continue the IndyBar’s efforts to work with lawyer-legislators and reasonably calls for outreach from government practice lawyers to remaining legislators most active on local government issues.

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