The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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Positioned directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, House District 71 includes southern Indiana’s most urban and racially diverse population outside of Evansville. As the rest of their once-solid southern Indiana has fallen away, it remains a stronghold for Indiana Democrats.

After Steven Stemler, owner of his family’s plumbing business in Jeffersonville, was elected its representative in 2006, he didn’t face another Republican opponent. A renegade of sorts in his left-leaning caucus, he was the only Democrat to defy caucus leadership by refusing to join a lengthy walkout over contentious labor legislation in 2011. The following year, House Republicans took the unusual action of naming Stemler a committee chair, a prize almost always reserved for members of the majority caucus.

After Stemler’s retirement in 2018, the district elected a Democrat more in the mainstream of her caucus. Republicans contested the district, but Rita Fleming, a retired OB/GYN, won by 3,200 votes over her opponent, a Jeffersonville City Councilman. Indiana Democrats put more than $160,000 into her campaign, in which her top issue was public health. In her first session, Fleming was primary author on six bills relating to the opioid crisis or women’s health issues.

Fleming drew news coverage in 2020 with a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women following a health screening; part of her rationale was that OB/GYNs and other physicians lack the time needed to fully address the need. The bill didn’t make it out of committee in the House, as was the case with Fleming’s other legislation during her first term,   despite lobbying by March of Dimes and other maternal and infant health groups. Fleming also had two Republican co-authors as well as a Republican state senator prepared to carry the bill had it been passed by the House.

Though not to the extent of its more populous neighbor across the river, Jeffersonville leans Democratic in most elections, favoring Clinton over Trump in 2016. Republicans didn’t field a candidate against Fleming in 2020, and might again have stopped contesting the district. – Kevin Morgan


(800) 382-9842
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204


  • Graduated, University of Louisville
  • Graduated, Vanderbilt University
  • Graduated, Murray State University


Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Natural Resources; Public Health.


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. 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


Sage Media, $7,973.29
Indiana State Medical Association, $1,000
Indiana Society of Anesthesiologists / INDIANES, $1,000
Laborers Union of NA, $875
Unitemized donations, $849.64
Indiana Association of Realtors, $500
Indiana Beverage Alliance, $500
Indiana Hospital Association, $500
Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology, $500
Indiana Optometric Association, $500


Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 50
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 50
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 59
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 59
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 63
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 100
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 100
National Rifle Association Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 0
Advance America Positions 0


Obstetric hospitalist; formerly registered nurse, nurse practitioner


Population: 65,078

Race/Ethnic Origin: 81.6% white, 11% black, 1% Asian, 3.6% other, 2.9% two or more; 79.2% white non-Hispanic, 5.9% Hispanic.