Indiana House District 53 centers on Hancock County; though solidly included in the Indianapolis metro area and among the state’s more populous counties, it still retains much of its rural heritage. The district, which also includes the rural southern reaches of Madison County, has been represented since 1998 by Robert “Bob” Cherry, a retired Indiana Farm Bureau executive who lives on his family farm in rural Greenfield. His legislative focus has been on agriculture, specifically on controlling property taxes and other costs incurred by farmers. Cherry is a longtime member of the House Ways and Means Committee and has risen through the ranks to become its vice chairman.
Sitting at the right hand of Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, Cherry is destined to play a key role in the writing of the state’s biennial budget in 2021, a process more complicated than in recent years due to the coronavirus-triggered downturn in state revenues and uptick in expenses for schools and unemployment benefits. Republicans hold 71 of the 100 seats in the House. When opposed for reelection, Cherry has won by 3-to-1 margins; he was unopposed in 2020. – Kevin Morgan
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. Yes
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. 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. 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. Excused
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
Retired director of industry relations, Indiana Farm Bureau Inc.
BS, Purdue University, 1965-1969
Elections and Apportionment; Rules and Legislative Procedure; Select Committee on Government Reduction; Ways and Means (vice chair); State Budget Committee (alternate)
Race/Ethnic Origin: 94.3% white, 3.2% black, 0.6% Asian, 0.7% other, 1.2 % two or more; 93.2% white non-Hispanic, 1.8% Hispanic.