By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

1. General Assembly power leadership set

Here are your final election week power lunch talking points:  With the General Assembly’s 121st session less than two months away, leadership is set, with two of the four caucuses sporting a new helmsman. As expected, Senate Republicans elected Rodrick Bray as president prom tempore (as well as chair of Rules Committee). He was initially selected last March in the waning days of the last session, and three new senators - Linda Rogers(replacing Joe Zakas), Chris Garten (Jim Smith) and Mike Gaskill (Doug Eckerty) - didn’t alter the outcome.  Bray has appointed Mark Messmer as majority floor leader, and Jim Merritt was elected majority caucus chair. Other new Senate committee chairs include Sen. Jeff Raatzfor Education, Chip Perfect for Commerce and Technology, Messmer for Environment, Eric Bassler for Insurance & Financial Institutions as well as Joint Rules, and Jim Tomes for Veterans. “My fellow caucus members and I are well-positioned to take on the challenges  before our state,” Bray said. “Much of the heavy lifting is done at the committee level, and I am confident that these individuals will lead with knowledge, integrity and hard work.”

In the House, Speaker Brian Bosma was elected to a “historic” sixth term, Rep. Greg Steuerwald is the majority caucus chair, and Matt Lehmanwill return as majority floor leader. The caucus had an uplifting moment  when critically-injured Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown made an appearance, entering on a walker. His broken jaw is still wired, and it may take a year for his brain injuries to heal. Reps. Todd Huston and Holli Sullivan will be taking on more of Dr. Brown’s work load  for this biennial budget session. But we are thrilled that Brown is making this epic comeback.

2. House Dem caucus shakeup

With House Democrats gaining only three seats, with Rep. Ed Soliday defeating Frank Szczepanski 54-46% while Lisa Beck defeated Republican Rep. Julie Olthoff now that Porter County results are in, Democrats dumped Terry Goodin and selected Rep. Phil GiaQuinta as minority leader. Goodin edged out GiaQuinta last winter after Scott Pelath stepped aside. It appears GiaQuinta cut a deal with the Black Caucus  to get over the top this time. House Democrats were grossly out-raised, as the lion’s share of the party’s meager resources went to a few races and most to defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly. GiaQuinta and Rep. Terri Austin were the most active caucus members, dishing off campaign money to the handful of competitive races.

3. Chairman Zody intends to stay on

Democratic State Chairman John Zody intends to stay on, even though he has won very little in two cycles and it’s been three cycles since a Democrat won statewide. “I will stay here as long as I feel like I can make a positive impact on that. This job is not about me; this is about moving the party forward,” Zody said. It will be interesting to learn how Democrats define “forward” in a party that holds only two federal seats and remains in a super minority swamp at the Statehouse, with no constitutional offices. Yes, they’ve faced the Donald Trump/Mike Pence buzz saw and will likely again in 2020 as Trump’s hold on wide swathes of Indiana looks strong for the foreseeable future.

4. An island in the marijuana sea

Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana, joining neighboring Canada and along with the West Coast states, Colorado, Maine and even North Dakota. It’s only a matter of time before Illinois joins the party. The Chicago Tribune  reports that incoming Democrat Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker favors legalization and Democrats in both chambers predict it will easily pass. “I suspect it’s a done deal,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “People see it as a new source of revenue. The true battle will be over who gets their cut of it taxwise.” Ohio voters rejected a referendum in 2016, but will vote on the issue in November 2019, so Indiana is poised to be the middle finger of pot prohibition, expending funds on enforcement instead of reaping a tax windfall. One thing that strikes us is with Michigan voters approving it with 56%, that matches referendums in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, and the Howey Politics/WTHR Poll from 2016 showed about 56% of Hoosiers favored medicinal marijuana

5. Final thoughts after a big week

First, congrats to Mike Braun on his Senate victory Tuesday. He has the experience and demeanor to be an outstanding senator and we hope he can convince Republicans to build on the Obamacare components that work and use business principles to fix what isn’t. There’s a lot of work to do on that front. Second, the Porter County vote fiasco is a disgrace. We hope the county and state learn what went awry and comes up with solutions. Third, Indiana’s voting system is aging and the state should explore and then executive a comprehensive update. Fourth, we hope President Trumpseriously considers Chris Christieto be the next attorney general. We would have great confidence in the former DA and governor at the helm of the embattled DOJ. Finally, we agree with Congressman Banks, that the Mueller probe must be completed, and a full report should be presented to the American people

Have a great weekend, folks, and thanks for reading. It’s The Atomic!