The Indiana Citizen

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WENDY MCNAMARA

Republican Birth Date:

You can’t get any further from the Statehouse than House District 76, which sits at the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers in the very corner of southwestern Indiana; from its most remote, you would drive an hour just to reach Evansville. The district’s representative since 2010, Wendy McNamara, has established a presence in Indianapolis by carving out areas of expertise in education and particularly juvenile justice. A former high school teacher at Evansville Bosse, she is now director of a program which allows its students to earn associate college degrees while still in high school. In 2019, she was appointed to a committee chairmanship usually held by attorneys and is among four women to chair one of the 24 standing committees in the House.

McNamara was the primary author of legislation in 2019 that came largely in response to a national wave of school shootings, including one at a Noblesville middle school that wounded a teacher and a student. Known as the school safety bill, it emerged from a set of recommendations from a legislative study committee and was identified as a priority for the session by Republican legislative leaders. The study committee’s report prominently mentioned mental health as an issue and recommended screening students as a preventative measure – language that ran into opposition from conservative Republicans, particularly in the Senate, who saw an infringement on parental rights. In the session’s final hours, the language was removed from the bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin and was signed into law. McNamara expressed disappointment at the change, as quoted in The Indianapolis Star, “There is no greater need in schools today than someone to help teachers, help our kids with mental health issues and socio-emotional issues. We can put all the locks on the doors, try to harden the target, but with these positive relationships we can often avert tragedy before it starts.’’

In 2016, McNamara was among Republicans to break ranks with leadership to oppose a bill, eventually signed into law, which further limited access to abortions in Indiana, banning them for a variety of reasons including fetal defects. She took the House floor to explain her vote: “I want to make it clear that voting no on this bill does not make me any less pro-life, it makes me a person who’s taking a second to examine a bill that hasn’t been vetted. … I’m prepared to be dubbed as someone that is not pro-life because they will view [my vote] on this bill as something that is not 100% in support of life. I go with a peaceful heart because I know in my heart that I have saved children’s lives.’’ McNamara also has been an advocate of legislation to ban requirements of public notice advertising in newspapers, calling it an outdated practice that drains public budgets and serves as a subsidy to the publishing industry; her bill in 2019 passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

The district was held by Democrats until McNamara’s win in an election that ranks among the state’s closest ever – four votes as determined by a recount. Her winning margins since have been in the thousands except in 2016, when she was unopposed. In 2020, McNamara won 64% of the general election vote in a rematch with her opponent from 2018. – Kevin Morgan

CONTACT INFORMATION

(800) 382-9841
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/legislators/legislator_wendy_mcnamara_1046

EDUCATION

  • BA, Political Science, University of Indianapolis, 1992
  • Certified, Teaching, Valparaiso University
  • MA, Education, University of Southern Indiana
  • MA, Educational Leadership, University of Southern Indiana

COMMITTEES

Courts and Criminal Code (Chair), Judiciary, Government and Regulatory Reform

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. 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. 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,  $2,000

Catalyst Public Affairs Group LLC,  $1,487.74

Unitemized Donations,  $1,315

Reynolds American,  $1,000

Indiana Association of Realtors,  $1,000

RATINGS

Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 100
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 87
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 96
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 95
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna)13
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 44
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 29
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Positions 25
National Rifle Association Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 87
Indiana AFL-CIO Positions 30

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Educator, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation: Teacher and Department Chair at Benjamin Bosse High School and at Harrison High School. Supervisor of Social Studies and as the Assistant Principal at North High School

DISTRICT

Population: 64,442

Race/Ethnic Origin: 95.6% White, 1.7% Black, 0.7% Asian, 0.7% Other, 1.3% two or more; 94.9% White Non-Hispanic, 1.2% Hispanic.