The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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EDDIE MELTON

Democratic Birth Date:

Though less than half of what it once was, the city of Gary still accounts for most of Senate District 3. For more than 25 years, it was represented by Earline Rogers, a Democrat who in the early 1990s worked with a Republican majority to pass the legislation that brought two riverboat casinos to the Gary lakefront. Gaming brought jobs and tourism to the city but fell short of transforming its economy; in 2019, a legislative overhaul of gaming in Indiana included the consolidation of the two casinos into one that will be land-based and closer to I-94. Virtually nothing in Gary has been left untouched by its well-documented economic decline. The state took over the city’s failing schools in 2011 and only recently returned one to local control.

Rogers served into her 80s and upon retiring in 2016 was succeeded by Eddie Melton, a soft-spoken utility executive who also has shown a knack for getting results by working across the aisle. Outside Gary, he was best known as a Pence administration Democratic appointee to the State Board of Education.

Upon arrival in the Senate, schools were Melton’s focus. Elected to a Democratic minority even more outnumbered than it was in Rogers’ day, Melton stepped forward during his first session to be second author on then-Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley’s bill that provided state financial assistance to – along with increased state control over – struggling schools in Muncie and Gary. Melton was among those credited with adding compromise language that preserved some local input in decision-making.

In 2020, working with Kenley’s successor, Melton was the primary author on Senate Bill 416, which restructures Gary schools’ debt to free up to $43 million for capital improvements; the bill passed the Senate unanimously. His most bipartisan moment came in a 2019 “listening tour” with Republican state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, leading to speculation that she would be his running mate in a 2020 gubernatorial campaign.

Melton announced in October 2019 that he would seek the Democratic nomination to run against Gov. Eric Holcomb but bowed out three months later, citing difficulties with fundraising and the need to focus on his legislative duties as well as running for a second term – which wasn’t a tall order; Republicans no longer contest the district. The more pressing question is how long Melton will be content to remain in the state Senate superminority, which appears locked in for the foreseeable future. — Kevin Morgan

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

(800) 382-9467
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/legislators/legislator_eddie_melton_1

EDUCATION

  • Attended, Business Management, Kentucky State University
  • Bachelor's, Organization Management, Calumet College of Saint Joseph

COMMITTEES

Appropriations, Education and Career Development, Health and Provider Services, Homeland Security and Transportation, School Funding Subcommittee, Veterans Affairs and the Military.

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. No

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. Yes

HB 1004-2020 (Health matters). Controlled surprise billing for out-of-network and other costs. No

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. No

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

Unitemized donations, $10,860.80

Haywood & Fleming Associates, $5,000

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, $5,000

Moe, Farhat, $5,000

Indiana Fire Fighters, $3,000

AT&T, $2,800

Indiana Laborers District Council, $2,500

Shepherd, David, $2,500

NiSource Inc., $2,000

Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, $2,000

RATINGS

Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 29
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 53
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 57
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 61
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 100
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 61
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 73
Indiana AFL-CIOPositions100
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 73
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 65

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Manager of Corporate Citizen and Community Relations, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. Indiana State Board of Education, 2015.

DISTRICT

Population: 130,413

Race/Ethnic Origin: 39% white, 54.4% black, 0.6% Asian, 3.7% other, 2.4% two or more; 34.2% white non-Hispanic, 9.8% Hispanic.