The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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Indiana House District 28 covers the furthest reaches of western suburban Indianapolis in Hendricks and Boone counties, much of it farm country. It has been represented since 1998 by Republican Jeffrey “Jeff” Thompson, a high school teacher now retired. Though not the chamber’s most vocal advocate of social conservatism, it is probably on that issue that Thompson has drawn the most news coverage. In 2012, he was blocked in attempts to add amendments to three different bills to revoke specialty license plates for the Indiana Youth Group, a support group for LGBT young people; the group later lost its plates on an administrative technicality.

Thompson also made headlines in 2015 with his introduction of a bill to create a state-funded Indiana Office of Marriage Promotion with the goal “to increase the number of children born to married parents” and to “promote the following ideas: (1) Children born to married parents are more likely to better develop academically and socially. (2) Children born to married parents are more likely to be physically and emotionally healthier. (3) Children born into single parent households are more likely to live in poverty, commit crimes, commit suicide, use illegal drugs and tobacco, drop out of school, be an unemployed adult, and be incarcerated.” The bill was assigned to a House committee and did not advance further.

The bromide that it’s not over until it’s over has its own meaning in the Indiana General Assembly; bills that appear safely headed toward passage can be derailed at the last minute, and new provisions can suddenly appear through amendment, even in the final hours of a session, and be passed into law. More than most legislators, Thompson has been associated with the latter. In 2013, he successfully added an amendment ahead of a key legislative deadline to bar Indiana schools from deducting union fees from teachers’ paychecks; the amendment was added to a bill on an unrelated topic. Late in the 2020 session, one of Thompson’s bills was amended in the Senate to allow charter schools to share in the funding gained through tax referendums; with Thompson’s backing, the amended bill was passed and signed into law.

Though adjacent to suburban areas that have undergone some Democratic realignment of late, Thompson’s district is solidly Republican; all its precincts went for Trump over Clinton in 2016, most by a 2-to-1 margin. Thompson tends to win by similar or wider margins when Democrats field a candidate in the general election, including in 2020. – Kevin Morgan