The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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LONNIE RANDOLPH

Democratic Birth Date: 08/07/49

Indiana Senate District 2 extends from the Illinois line through the city of East Chicago, where in 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed suspected lead contamination in a public housing community built on the site of a former lead smelter. The contamination drew comparisons to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which had come to light two years before, and it added to the socioeconomic woes of a city that had never recovered from the dismantling of its steel factories. The district is represented by Lonnie Randolph, an attorney and Lake County political fixture who first served in the Indiana Senate in the 1990s, then left for a stint as East Chicago city judge.

In 2008, Randolph returned to the Senate and a Democratic minority that has continued to shrink in the 12 years since. East Chicago’s population is among the state’s most distant from Indianapolis, and his legislative efforts to address its economic, social and environmental needs seldom find their way to the governor’s desk. In 2020, he found bipartisan support among the northwest Indiana delegation for his bill to require, at least once every two years, drinking water testing in every school building in Lake County for lead contamination; the bill made it through the Senate but the House opted to pass its version with similar provisions which was passed and signed into law. More often, Randolph’s bills die in committee in the Senate, and he tends to introduce some in consecutive sessions – among them bills to abolish the death penalty, to increase limits on expulsions and suspensions, and to forgive emergency loans made to East Chicago schools.

Like Vernon Smith, one of his Lake County counterparts in the House, Randolph will take the floor to argue long and hard against Republican-backed legislation well on its way to passage. Among his most impassioned arguments came in 2019, against an amendment that removed mention of race as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and other personal characteristics from a hate crimes bill that he co-authored. With bipartisan backing, the bill had sailed through committee intact, usually an indication of passage on the floor. In a 12-minute speech directed to Republicans who supported the amendment, Randolph seemed to suggest they were keeping a distance from his sizeable black constituency, both inside and outside of his district, asking, “What do we have to do? What do we have to do to earn your respect and recognition? What is it? Tell me what it is, and we will do it.’’

On his home turf, the votes come far more easily for Randolph. He hasn’t faced a general election opponent since overwhelming a Republican in 2008. More unusually in the competitive world of Lake County Democratic politics, he hasn’t faced a primary challenge since 2008. — Kevin Morgan

CONTACT INFORMATION

(800) 382-9467
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/legislators/legislator_lonnie_randolph_160

EDUCATION

  • BS, Northern Illinois University
  • JD, John Marshall Law School

COMMITTEES

Commerce and Technology; Corrections and Criminal Law; Ethics; Judiciary; Public Policy; Utilities.

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. 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. No

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, $3,000

Anheuser-Busch Co., $1,500

Indiana Beverage Alliance, $1,500

Indiana Bankers Association, $1,500

Delivering The Difference For Indiana, $1,300

RATINGS

Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 13
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 35
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average)55
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 59
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 82
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 85
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions78
Indiana AFL-CIO Positions 100
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 60
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 56

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Attorney, Lonnie M. Randolph PC.

DISTRICT

Population: 128,315

Race/Ethnic Origin: 49.5% white, 34.9% black, 0.5% Asian, 12% other, 3.1% two or more; 32.6% white non-Hispanic, 31.3% Hispanic.