Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, a Naval Reserve officer, is being deployed to Afghanistan this fall and will miss the entire 2015 legislative session.
Banks missed the last week of session this year on a training assignment in Rhode Island. But his deployment to Afghanistan will span seven months, from September through April. Banks received the order a few weeks ago and says he was prepared to resign:
“I was notified by the Senate staff and leadership there is a provision in the state law that would allow me to take a temporary leave of absence,” says Banks. “That is my decision alone to make whether or not to activate that provision and it’s one that I feel strongly is important for me to make in order that my Senate district will continue to be represented while I’m away.”
This is the second time in the last year that provision in state law has been invoked – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also an officer in the Navy Reserve, was deployed to Afghanistan last fall. Banks says he’s spoken with Buttigieg about the experience:
“He’s been very helpful to me personally, advising me on how to make this announcement as he did and we’ve, over email, conversed about the process that lies ahead – personally, politically, professionally,” says Banks.
If reelected, Banks – who is unopposed in this fall’s election – would be sworn into office via Skype from Afghanistan. His replacement would then be chosen by a caucus of GOP precinct committeemen.
Banks says he’s encouraging his wife to replace him. Amanda Banks has long been active in politics, working on a congressional campaign and as a policy analyst for a conservative organization.