Sen. Jim Tomes: The Statehouse in a nutshell

Typewriter with paper titled Article

Here we go!

Indiana’s Statehouse is open for business. Once again, the big dome on the corner of Washington St. will shelter super majorities of Republican lawmakers from having to think realistically about Indiana’s role in the 21st century.

Take a walk through the Statehouse sometime. There’s a lot of echo in there, so when a lawmaker from, say, Wadesville, starts talking to himself, it’s easy to see how he might think he’s speaking for a multitude.

Sen. Jim Tomes is a Republican from Wadesville, an unincorporated community in Posey County, down in the southwest corner of the state. Wadesville has a post office dating back to 1855 and a posted elevation (479 ft.), but is so small no population is listed.

Sen. Tomes has represented Wadesville since 2010. He serves on a number of standing committees, including Agriculture, Commerce and Technology, Natural Resources and Utilities. He’s a Vietnam vet and a former teamster; been honored with a Distinguished Hoosier Award in 2006, and as a Kentucky Colonel in 2010.

He’s also been busy during the legislative off-season. Sen. Tomes will be bringing at least two pieces of legislation to the Statehouse this year. The first concerns transgender bathroom access. Sen. Tomes wants to make it a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000, for a transgender person “to enter a public bathroom that does not conform to their gender at birth.”

Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our kids are being used as guinea pigs in the political laboratories we used to call schools, and Indiana is hooked on the dirtiest form of energy there is: coal. Thank heaven Sen. Tomes is here, standing up for the finer feelings of public restroom users.

But that’s not all the Republican senator from Wadesville is doing. Sen. Tomes has also filed a bill to make it easier for drunks, aka “alcohol abusers,” to get a handgun license. Senate Bill 36 would remove a restriction that now prohibits alcohol offenders from getting a handgun permit. It would also disallow questions about drunken driving violations on handgun applications or in interviews.

“I don’t understand the connection between a DUI and obtaining a handgun license,” Sen. Tomes was quoted in the Indianapolis Star, boldly asserting that it really should be easier to get a gun than a driver’s license around here.

Perhaps Sen. Tomes is unaware that Indianapolis, the city where he is about to spend the next 10 weeks, has just experienced its worst year on record for gun violence.

But I doubt it.

Sen. Tomes, like so many of his fellow Republicans, doesn’t live in a city. As far as they’re concerned, what happens in places like Indianapolis, or Fort Wayne, or Evansville, or Gary ain’t their problem. Cities, you see, are so unIndiana — never mind that most Hoosiers live in them.

You can thank Republican redistricting for that.

And during the coming legislative session, when it seems (as it will) like Indiana can’t keep from chasing its collective tail, you can thank Republicans like Sen. Jim Tomes.

Originally published at

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