By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Lawson resigns, continuing appointment trend

Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced resignation today, citing her 32 years of public service and the toll the 2020 election year took. "I have dedicated the last 32 years of my life to public service. I have served with all of my heart and soul," she said. "It has been an honor to serve, but it is time for me to step down. Like many Hoosiers, 2020 took a toll on me. I am resigning so I can focus on my health and my family. I will work with Governor Holcomb to ensure our next Secretary of State is up to the task and has the tools and resources to hit the ground running.” This wasn't totally unexpected. In the Jan. 7 HPI Power 50  edition, we observed: "Could 2020 be the last general election overseen by Secretary Lawson? Lawson may look to play a significant role in identifying her successor should she consider resigning before her full term is complete."

Identifying an appointed successor is now a dominating factor at the Statehouse. In the General Assembly, 21.3% of current Members were appointed by caucus following resignations. Of the five Statehouse Constitutional offices, Gov. Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch were nominated via the Indiana Republican Central Committee after Gov. Mike Pence joined Donald Trump's presidential ticket in 2016. Holcomb was appointed by Gov. Pence to fill out the term of Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who resigned in the winter of 2016. Auditor Tera Klutz was appointed to that position after Crouch was elected LG in November 2016. Lawson was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels following the felony conviction and resignation of Secretary of State Charlie White in 2012.

The name we keep hearing as Crouch successor is State Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, who has been an engineering consultant for the University of Southern Indiana, and managed a database manager for a church. She was appointed to fill the House term of Crouch when she was nominated for state auditor. She is secretary of the Indiana Republican Central Committee and in 2016, she was elected to serve as president of POWER, the Indiana House women’s caucus. Another name popping up is deputy Secretary of State Brandon Clifton, who operates as Lawson's chief operating officer.

2. Hamilton calls for insurrection probe

Former Sept. 11 Commission members Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean wrote President Biden, calling for a thorough investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, and Hamilton, the former Democratic House member from Indiana, headed after 9/11 and now are advocating to investigate the Jan. 6 events. In the letter, the two wrote, “The shocking and tragic assault of Jan. 6th on the U.S. Capitol requires thorough investigation, to ensure that the American people learn the truth of what happened that day. An investigation should establish a single narrative and set of facts to identify how the Capitol was left vulnerable, as well as corrective actions to make the institution safe again.” Said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican who voted to convict Trump, “There should be a complete investigation about what happened. What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

3. COVID grip eases in Indiana

Associated Press: Average daily new coronavirus cases in the United States dipped below 100,000 in recent days for the first time in months, but experts cautioned Sunday that infections remain high and precautions to slow the pandemic must remain in place. Statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 dropped from 1,079 on Friday to 1,031 on Saturday, the lowest number since Oct. 7 (IBJ). The high mark was 3,460, set on Nov. 30.

4. More COVID impacts from baby booms to used cars

Last week we learned the pandemic has set off a baby boom in the state. Couples working from home all day have been eating, drinking and, well, you know. Indiana Public Media is reporting there is a used car sales boom underway. 3. Hamilton calls for insurrection probe. “If you wanted to trade in a used car now is the time to do it, because it is worth more than it will ever be worth,” David Kopitzke, the used car sales manager at Hubler Honda in Columbus, told IPM.

5. Census data coming ... in September

NPR  reports that the 2020 Census data needed for congressional and General Assembly reapportionment won't be available until Sept. 30. Last week, Senate President Rod Bray said he expected the data by the end of June, setting up a late summer special session to draw new maps. The data was originally scheduled for a March 31 legal deadline. The Trump era chaos is now extending into the redistricting process of 2021-22.

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