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State Lawmaker To Take Personal Leave While Deployed

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

State Senator Jim Banks, a Naval Reserve officer, will become the first state lawmaker to use a provision in Indiana law to take a temporary leave of absence when he is deployed to Afghanistan this fall. 

Banks missed the last week of session this year while he was on a training assignment in Rhode Island.  But his deployment to Afghanistan will span seven months, meaning he will miss the entire 2015 legislative session.  The Columbia City Republican says he was prepared to resign before learning he could take a temporary leave, allowing a caucus of GOP precinct committeemen to appoint a replacement.  This is the second time in the last year that provision in state law has been invoked – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also an officer in the Navy Reserve, was deployed to Afghanistan last fall.  Banks says he’s spoken with Buttigieg about the experience:

He’s been very helpful to me personally, advising me on how to make this announcement as he did and we’ve, over email, conversed about the process that lies ahead – personally, politically, professionally,” says Banks.

Banks says he’s encouraging his wife to replace him.  Amanda Banks has long been active in politics, working on a congressional campaign and as a policy analyst for a conservative organization. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.