The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, December 03, 2019 1:00 am

Fishers lawmaker elected speaker

Will replace Bosma in March

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – House Republicans on Monday chose Fishers Rep. Todd Huston to take over the House speaker post in March.

Current House Speaker Brian Bosma is not seeking re-election and will step down as speaker at the end of the session – then fully resign his seat in May.

“I think our caucus has chosen the right person to lead our state into the future,” said Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne.

Huston was the only candidate and was tapped unanimously by the caucus.

“We are going to be aggressive in moving this state forward, but in a way that brings honor to this building,” he said.

Huston was first elected in 2012 and has gained a name for himself by handling some tough fiscal issues – from expanding gambling and the state budget to workforce needs and economic development legislation.

But before that he was known for his behind-the-scenes role in crafting state-paid vouchers and working as chief of staff for controversial former State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett. Both have made him a target by supporters of public education.

Huston said he served on a local school board and his wife taught for eight years. He said since being in the legislature he has reached out to all stakeholders.

“Anyone who knows me knows the appreciation and gratitude I have for teachers,” he said.

Huston is the senior vice president for state and district partnerships for the College Board, which develops and administers standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 schools to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process.

The most recent public tax filing for College Board shows Huston making $429,000. He said he will remain in that job. As a legislator, he brings in an additional $58,000.

Earlier this year, Huston co-chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. But in 2020 he will instead spend his time learning the ropes of the speaker position directly from Bosma. The speaker presides over the session every day, but his administrative duties are far greater.

Huston will still serve on committees and carry legislation.

“Todd Huston is a home run pick for Indiana House speaker. He has proven himself a strong leader and has touched so many facets of state government through the budget process,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “Having a year to learn from Speaker Bosma will prove invaluable. I look forward to working with (Huston) and Sen. (Rodric) Bray going forward.”

Huston's suburban Indianapolis district has seen shifting demographics, and his 2020 race isn't a done deal. But having the moniker of speaker heading into the fall will likely help him raise money.

“I feel we will run an aggressive and strong campaign in all suburban districts,” Huston said, noting he is confident the presidential election and strong Indiana record under Republicans will help.

Huston said he doesn't have the experience or institutional knowledge that Bosma has and will lean more on his leadership team when he is speaker. Otherwise, Huston said his leadership style is to be determined – except he wants everyone to be respectful in the chamber.

As far as issues, Huston said he has changed his mind and now supports raising the smoking age to 21, has concerns about decriminalizing marijuana and supports a limited role for state government.

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, of Fort Wayne, said he looks forward to “working with Speaker-elect Huston in making sure that the House conducts a healthy and vigorous debate on the issues that concern Hoosiers across our state.”

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