The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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DAVID NIEZGODSKI

Democratic Birth Date: 08/18/60

Walk into the Democratic caucus of the Indiana House or Senate and you’ll most likely find yourself among a professional class populated by attorneys and increasingly public school teachers. David Niezgodski is a throwback to the days when unions and the trades were a larger presence. In his second term in the Senate after 10 years in the House and a long career in St. Joseph County politics, the South Bend LaSalle High School grad began his career at 18, in the family plumbing business, which he now owns. Niezgodski represents Indiana Senate District 10, which covers heavily populated northern St. Joseph County.

Moving from the House to the Senate in 2017, Niezgodski stressed his working class roots in an interview, saying, “I’ve always been very passionate about issues that pertain to working men and women. I’ve been a very strong advocate for those causes, and that’s pretty much why I call myself a Democrat.’’ He was one of the House’s most outspoken critics of right-to-work legislation passed in 2012.

With only 10 Senate members, its Democratic caucus is particularly fragile, but Niezgodski occasionally has broken with leadership to vote with Republicans, most recently on the 2019 binennial budget – criticized by the rest of his caucus as shorting social services and public education – and 2020 legislation that allowed the state, instead of issuing debt, to use $291 million in surplus funds to pay for capital projects and Indiana colleges and universities – money since pulled back due to the coronavirus-triggered downturn in state revenues. Other Senate Democrats had pushed for the money to go toward teacher pay raises.

In 2020, four of the bills authored by Niezgodski dealt with worker issues, including one that renewed his efforts to reestablish the prevailing wage in Indiana; also known as common construction wage, the law requiring minimum pay rates for public works projects was repealed in 2015. It as well as two others – to withhold tax credits and other state incentives from companies that move their call centers overseas, and to reinstate unemployment benefits for education workers – died in committee. The fourth, to create a system to report when companies reclassify their employees as contractors without paid benefits, passed the Senate with 20 Republican votes but died in the House amid opposition from the small business lobby.

Niezgodski’s former House district is a mix of blue and red precincts. He managed to win by comfortable margins, even running without Republican opposition for his last term. Democrats have struggled to hang on to the seat since. His Senate seat has been held by Democrats for decades, and he faced no opposition for reelection in 2020. – Kevin Morgan

CONTACT INFORMATION

(800) 382-9467
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/legislators/legislator_david_niezgodski_1

EDUCATION

  • Diploma, Lasalle High School, 1978

COMMITTEES

Appropriations; Energy and Environmental Affairs; Pensions and Labor; Rules and Legislative Procedure; Tax and Fiscal Policy

KEY VOTES

SB 198-2019 (Sentencing, bias crimes). Allowed longer sentences in crimes based on personal characteristics, stripped of references to sexual orientation, gender identity and race. No

SB 516-2019 (Regulation of hemp). Allowed cultivation and regulation of hemp products in Indiana, did not change marijuana laws. Yes

HB 1001-2019 (State budget). Set funding for state agencies and services, including 2.5% annual increases for education, though not directly for teacher salaries. Yes

HB 1004-2019 (School safety). Increased access to funding for security systems and resource officers, was stripped of provisions for mental health screening. Yes

HB 1015-2019 (Various gaming matters). Allowed sports betting statewide and table games in more casinos, relocated a casino in Gary and authorizing a new one in Terre Haute. Yes

SB 1-2020 (Tobacco and vaping). Raised from 18 to 21 the legal age to buy tobacco or vaping products in Indiana. Yes

SB 148-2020 (Zoning and housing matters). Was amended to overrule local tenant protection measures like those in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Merrillville. Vetoed by governor. No

HB 1004-2020 (Health matters). Controlled surprise billing for out-of-network and other costs. Yes

HB 1070-2020 (Distracted driving). Made it an infraction to handle a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Yes

HB 1414-2020 (Electric generation). Prohibited utilities from closing coal-fired generating plants without permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Yes

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

Indiana State Pipe Trades Association, $47,000

Indiana Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/IBEW, $25,825

United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States & Canada/ UA: $25,000

Indiana State Teachers Association, $18,000

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 172: $15,000

Ironworkers Local 395: $6,400

Boilermakers Local 374: $6,250

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 597: $4,900

Ironworkers Local 395, $8,900

Boilermakers Local 374, $6,250

Indiana Trial Lawyers Assoc.: $6,000

Indiana Union of Painters & Allied Trades/IUPAT, $5,900

Ironworkers Local 22, $5,000

 

RATINGS

National Rifle Association Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 92
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 67
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 68
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 62
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 69
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 25
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 71
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 79
Indiana AFL-CIO Positions 100
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 67

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Plumbing industry. President of Indiana State Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors (PHCC). Former president of St. Joe Valley MCA/PHCC.

DISTRICT

Population: 129,311

Race/Ethnic Origin: 67.8% white, 20.5% black, 1.5% Asian, 6.2% other, 3.9% two or more; 63.3% White Non-Hispanic, 11.4% Hispanic