To say that this week has been eventful would be an understatement. Not only was I officially sworn in for a third term as State Representative for District 75, but I also celebrated my 68th birthday and 47 years of marriage to my wife, Karen.
Every year around Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the importance of family, but this year I am particularly grateful for their support. Even though we are a part-time legislature, the legislative session still requires me to spend many days and nights in Indianapolis. Even the interim is filled with business that must be attended to, whether in Indianapolis or at home. All of this would not be possible without my family’s understanding that this sacrifice is necessary for the betterment of our local communities.
Before session begins each January, legislators officially meet in November, on Organization Day. This year, members of the House were sworn in, including eight new Republicans and one new Democrat. While Organization Day is a yearly event, the swearing in ceremony only happens every other year and it remains an exciting time for legislators new and old. This year in particular was historic because for the first time in our state’s history, members of the House of Representatives were sworn in by a female Chief Justice, Loretta Rush.
Even though this is generally just a day of formalities, a lot of important things still take place. For instance, every Organization Day includes an announcement by the Speaker to support and raise awareness for a certain charity throughout the legislative session. This year’s philanthropy, which the entire House will participate in, is the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV).
ICADV is a statewide alliance that provides technical assistance, resources, information and training to those who serve victims of domestic violence. The executive director of ICADV, Laura Berry, joined us at the Statehouse for Organization Day, as well as Victim Advocate, Curtis McManus.
Curtis shared the story of his childhood, growing up in a violent home, and how moving in with his aunt and uncle taught him what a stable, loving family was like. Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretaker is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. However, seeing this positive relationship between his aunt and uncle encouraged him to stop the cycle of violence and ensure that his future children would never have to experience what he did as a child. Today, Curtis continues to advocate for victims of domestic violence as a board member for the Julian Center in Indianapolis, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country.
Throughout the day, donation tables were also set up for staff and legislators to bring in bedding, grocery store gift cards, art supplies and other items for domestic violence service providers across the state.
Domestic violence prevention is an issue I feel very passionately about, and I am pleased that ICADV has been chosen as our philanthropy for the 2015 session. Recent figures show that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. With Organization Day being the official start of session, I don’t think we could have picked a better way to start than by working together, Democrats and Republicans alike, to help Hoosiers who are impacted by this growing public safety concern. Every community is hurt by domestic violence, but our state is taking a stand, and I hope that you will join us.