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New Leadership Selected In House Committees

House Speaker Brian Bosma says he's received a lot of interest from members of his caucus over two open committee leadership posts.

Three significant Indiana House committees – Public Policy, Utilities and Employment and Labor – will have new leadership next session.

The Public Policy Committee deals with some controversial issues, including alcohol, gaming, and abortion. New chair Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, has served on Public Policy since he joined the legislature in 2013.

Political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says not to expect too many fireworks in Smaltz’s first year as chair.

“Take kind of a breather this session and then sit down with all of the affected groups, kind of see what the temperature in the room is,” Feigenbaum says.

Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion, has never served on the Utilities Committee but was tabbed to lead it, becoming a committee chair for the first time. Feigenbaum predicts Ober won’t be a rash decision-maker.

“He’s not somebody who’s going to be impulsive and intuitively favor one side or the other without investigating the facts,” Feigenbaum says.

And though Rep. Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville, led the Employment and Labor Committee ever since Republicans took the majority in 2011, he’s been replaced with Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, who’s new to that committee. Feigenbaum says he doesn’t know what to make of that move.

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