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ERIC KOCH

Republican Birth Date:

Senate District 44 takes in the limestone quarries and scenic hill country of south central Indiana south and east of Bloomington. Its biggest cities are Seymour, the small town of the John Mellencamp ode, and Bedford, which is home to Eric Koch, a first-term Republican who previously represented the area for 14 years in the Indiana House. Koch (pronounced “cook”) is an attorney and eighth-generation Hoosier with a polished delivery and, as a colleague in the House once said, never a hair out of place. His list of honors and recognitions might be the longest included on any official bio in the Indiana General Assembly.

Koch also has a long list of bills on which he has been primary or secondary author, often dealing with utilities and the judiciary, two of the subject matters he has overseen as a committee chair in the House and then the Senate. Koch had a rare spate of bad press in 2015 when The Indianapolis Star called attention to his authoring a House bill to strip local governments of their ability to regulate oil and gas drilling while he had investments in oil and gas companies. Ethics rules prohibit legislators from authoring or voting on legislation that would have a unique, direct and substantial personal financial benefit; Koch said any personal benefit from his bill would be “very indirect, unsubstantial and not unique” but he effectively withdrew the bill soon after.

A Koch-authored Senate bill in 2017 was credited with expanding broadband access in underserved areas by allowing rural electric utilities to use existing easements and infrastructure, an effort he is expanding in 2020 with new legislation. He was named Legislator of the Year by ARC of Indiana, an advocacy group for the intellectually disabled, for his work on a 2019 law allowing “supported decision-making arrangements’’ in lieu of more restrictive guardianships. Though not outspokenly conservative on social issues from the floor, he broke from more mainstream leadership to vote against bills in 2019 that expanded gambling, allowed sentencing enhancements for bias crimes and legalized hemp.

In 2021, as a member of the Senate Elections Committee, Koch became one of the key players in the decennial redistricting -- but not as key as he had been in the redistricting of a decade before, when as chairman of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee he authored the legislation which set the stage for a decade of overwhelming Republican control of both chambers.

Koch’s district skirts Bloomington and Columbus, the area’s largest population centers, leaving a rural, somewhat remote and uniformly Republican-friendly terrain that bodes well for his continuation into a third decade as a legislator. In 2016, his winning margins in the primary and general election were 2-to-1, nearly as comfortable as he enjoyed during his House tenure; in 2020, his margin was closer to 3-to-1 against a late Democratic entry in the general election. – Kevin Morgan

CONTACT INFORMATION

(800) 382-9467
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/legislators/legislator_eric_koch_1

EDUCATION

  • BS, Georgetown University, 1989
  • JD, School of Law, Indiana University, 1987

COMMITTEES

  • BS, Georgetown University, 1989
  • JD, School of Law, Indiana University, 1987

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. No

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. No

SB 1-2020 (Tobacco and vaping). Raised from 18 to 21 the legal age to buy tobacco or vaping products in Indiana. No

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. 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 Trial Lawyers Association, $13,000

Indiana Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, $5,000

Indiana Bankers Association, $4,500

NiSource, $3,500

Indiana American Water Co., $3,000

Wind & Spirits Distributors of Indiana, $2,751.79

American Electric Power/AEP, $2,500

AT&T, $2,500

General Motors, $2,000

Sunrise Coal, $2,000

RATINGS

Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 88
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 89
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 85
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 79
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 0
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 30
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 30
Indiana AFL-CIOPositions33
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 92
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions89

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Attorney, Koch & McAuley, PC.

DISTRICT

Population: 128,836

Race/Ethnic Origin: 94.6% white, 0.8% black, 1.6% Asian, 1.8% other, 1.2% two or more; 92.8% white non-Hispanic, 3.5% Hispanic.