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Government / WBAA

Bill creating removal process for township trustees heads to governor’s desk

Disputes in Wabash Township lead to the creation of SB 304, which is headed for the governor's desk (WBAA News/Ben Throp)

A bill creating a process for removing township trustees passed out of the House Tuesday without amendments.

Supporters of the legislation say it is in response to the actions of trustees in Tippecanoe County’s Wabash and Fairfield Townships who acted with little oversight or accountability.

In Wabash Township, now-former Trustee Jennifer Teising faced questions regarding her residency. In January, Teising was found guilty by Judge Kristen McVey on 21 counts of theft for illegally taking her trustee salary while not a resident of the township.

SB 304 received pushback from House and Senate Democrats, who argued a removal process through the courts already existed or who worried it would allow for the partisan removal of elected leaders.

Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) authored the bill. He said he found those arguments frustrating - particularly because the courts slow any removal process down.

“If it’s a belligerent, criminal offense it is still going to take you so much time, and so much damage is happening in that gap that it’s incredible,” he said.

Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette), who authored similar legislation in the House and initially opposed Alting’s bill, voted in favor of the passage of SB 304.

In a statement, Campbell said it was a “good bill” that would allow “townships to remove an elected official that is not fulfilling their elected duties.” And Campbell noted that the bill included language from her own HB 1157.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb.