Nisly’s Productivity As State Representative Questioned

State Rep. Curt Nisly

Indiana State Rep. Curt Nisly was supposed to be a part of the online 3rd House Legislative Session on Friday hosted by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.

Though he and State Sen. Blake Doriot didn’t end up taking part, Nisly was referenced directly and indirectly during the hour-long session.

Chamber President and CEO Rob Parker said Nisly’s absence was disappointing as he had received quite a few follow-up questions that came in after Wednesday’s candidate forum for District 22. Nisly, who has represented District 22 for the last eight years, is up against District 18 State Rep. Craig Snow in the Republican May primary after redistricting put the two men in the same district. Snow took part in the session Friday.

The first follow-up question Parker posed, in part, was, “During Curt’s eight-year tenure and Craig’s two-year tenure, could each of you gentlemen share your productivity record, essentially, how many bills have you proposed, and how many of those bills have been signed into law?”

Snow said in his first year, he proposed one bill and it did get signed into law. It was a grain indemnity fund, which he said he was pretty proud of. In his second year, this past session, he thought he proposed five bills – which is the limit allowed per representative – and two got passed. The two that were passed included the childcare bill for school corporations.

“But there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes on a daily basis: meeting different people, working on (issues) like U.S. 30, working on bills that came over (from the Senate),” Snow said.

He said Sen. Ryan Mishler asked him to co-sponsor Senate Bill 361, which he was proud to do. That forced him to keep studying and learning “how these things work.”

With Nisly still a no-show about 16 minutes into the hour-long session, Parker asked Mishler if he would happen to know if any of Nisly’s bills were passed into law.

“Not to my knowledge,” Mishler responded. “I can’t think of any.”

At the candidate forum Wednesday, the candidates were asked what legislation did they author and has been signed into law that they were most proud of. Nisly said the bill he was most proud of was constitutional carry. He said he authored and offered constitutional carry and amendments several times over the last five to six years.

However, none of his constitutional carry bills were signed into law.

Constitutional carry refers to the legal public carrying of a handgun without a permit or license either concealed or openly.

On Friday, Mishler explained how the process worked this year that got constitutional carry to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk to sign.

“Well, it made it through the House pretty easily,” Mishler recalled. State Rep. Ben Smaltz sponsored the bill. “So, they didn’t really have any trouble. Smaltz sponsored the bill, made it through committee. Cleared the floor, got it over to the Senate. They had a marathon hearing and somebody put an amendment on there. It was a stupid insert.”

Mishler said the Senate’s rules are a little more strict than the House’s.

“It didn’t meet up to our rule so that means the bill is dead. So, that caused a lot of problems. It put us in a bind. The Speaker wasn’t real happy,” he recalled. “So, if you ask me what happened, when that stalled, it was really the Speaker and the Pro-Tem that got together. Senator Bray and Rep. Huston are the two that got together and came up with the fix and said, ‘This is how we’re going to do this.’”

Mishler said he was in on some of the meetings. While he admitted he wasn’t a lawyer, he said it sounded like it passed the legal test and they had the votes.

“So, if you were to ask me, at the end of session, the only reason that bill stayed (alive) – because it would have died in the Senate, it would have died in that hearing – and the only reason that bill is law today is because of the Speaker and the Pro-Tem sitting down, pulling the troops together and saying, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ and everybody agreed that was the way to go,” Mishler stated.

He said the leadership took the lead, and if they hadn’t, the bill would have been dead in committee.

Snow said it was good the constitutional carry bill got passed and he voted for it, though he did have some concerns as far as protection for law enforcement.

“I think it’s something where it’s really a bill for the lawful Mr. and Mrs. Hoosier. It protects their rights and (criminals) are going to get a gun no matter what happens,” he said.

For the last question of Friday’s session, Parker said the most questions he had received was regarding campaigns and messaging around campaigns and how they are misleading.

“So, unfortunately, one of the individuals that those questions were going to be directed to didn’t show up today. So I would just like to ask, both Sen. Mishler and Rep. Snow, have you had any, who is campaigning against you recently, say anything that you felt was misleading or derogatory or outright a lie that you would like to comment on?” Parker asked.

Snow said his campaign staff asked him to do a number of things, but he said he is not going to run a negative campaign.

“I will say, if there’s any misconceptions that need to be cleaned up, I am pro-life. Very much against abortion and obviously (for the) Second Amendment,” Snow said as he sat at his desk with a full gun cabinet behind him.

He said he is all in about talking about being anti-abortion and trying to figure out how to reverse Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal in Indiana.

“I believe there is a way in which you get that done that is fiscally smart and responsible. And I think, over the years, Right To Life has done an excellent job curbing as much as we can with abortion,” Snow said.

He said from what he’s heard and come to understand is that abolishing it over night does not work and costs constituents’ money that ends up going back to organizations like Planned Parenthood.

“I think there’s a way in which you can do it, you’ve just got to do it in a right way and a way that is fiscally responsible,” Snow said.

As far as his campaign, he said they’re doing what they can to keep it clean.

Regarding Nisly’s campaign filing a complaint with state election officials over wording contained in Snow’s campaign literature that Nisly’s campaign says is Snow trying to represent himself as the District 22 incumbent, Snow said he doesn’t think he’s misrepresenting.

“I’m running for District 22. I am an incumbent. I am a state representative today. So, I don’t know what else to say other than those are not the things I want to focus on. I want to focus on running a clean campaign and doing the things that I’m hearing from you all and others in terms of what we need to do,” Snow said.

Mishler said he’s read some of the rhetoric in some of the other campaigns “and this is where I struggle. When one person tries to tell people what another person believes, how do you know? Just a general blanket. How do you know what somebody believes? I hate it when people tell me what I think. How do you know what I’m thinking? But if you come back and say, ‘Why did you vote for this bill? Why did you vote against that bill?’ Then, before I hit that button, I always think, ‘How am I going to defend my vote on this?’ That’s fair game. But just to tell me what I believe, what I think, I don’t think someone else has the right to tell me what I think. So I don’t go for that.”

He also touched on the Speaker giving Snow money for his campaign. Mishler said  he gives the Pro-Tem of the Senate money to support the other members of his caucus because they’re his friends no matter where they live. “So, basically, where he gets a lot of his money is from his fellow legislators that are giving him money and maybe they live in a different part of the state, but why should that matter?”

Mishler said he’s given candidates money directly that don’t live in his area but he thinks they do a good job. He stated he has given money to Snow because Snow is true to who he is, he’s strong in his faith and is true to his word.

“So, the way that works is, we just shovel our money around to help our friends. And to say it’s coming from Indianapolis or whatever, OK, so if I donate to the Speaker and he gives it back to one of my local legislators, it’s still from me. So I think that’s kind of trite to do that because it costs money to run campaigns. And if we all had to pay for our own campaigns, 90% of the people couldn’t run. They couldn’t afford to run a campaign. So, I think it levels the playing field because how many self-funds their campaign?” Mishler said.