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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Rep. Linda Lawson, right, talks with Rep. Terri Austin on the opening day of the General Assembly Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Saturday, January 06, 2018 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

From one woman's perspective, Statehouse far from collegial

Another high-ranking woman in Indiana state government has announced she's leaving office. And, like the first, she's not leaving quietly.

House Minority Leader Linda Lawson, dressed in black for the first day of the General Assembly session Wednesday, told the Times of Northwest Indiana her apparel signified a moment of mourning as she finishes her final term as a legislator. She won't seek re-election to an 11th term.

“The climate in the Statehouse is just toxic,” said Lawson, a retired police captain with the Hammond Police Department. She told the Times her firsthand law enforcement experience routinely has been ignored by colleagues trying to pass gun laws that she says will endanger the lives of Indiana police and women. At a legislative conference last month, she pointed out that none of the three male lawmakers on the discussion panel – all attorneys – had ever seen “a woman shot in the head in a domestic violence quarrel.”

“I have – several times,” Lawson, D-Hammond, said. “I don't care how many handguns you give a woman – for emotional reasons, she is not going to shoot and kill the man standing in front of her. He's going to take that gun and use it on her or one of the kids in the house. It is outrageous that you hand a gun to a woman with no training, no expertise, and say 'this is going to make you safer.' ”

This week, Lawson told the Times she feels like she doesn't fit in at the Statehouse.

“(House Speaker) Brian Bosma's yammering about this collective lovefest, we all get along so well, we all work together – that's just not true, it's just not true; it doesn't happen,” she said.

Lawson said the tone of the General Assembly changed when Republicans won supermajority status in 2012. GOP leaders don't need collaboration or compromises from Democratic lawmakers to pass legislation. 

Mary Beth Bonaventura, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, stepped down last month. She sent a scathing resignation letter accusing Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration of endangering children's safety.