INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 23, 2014)– Two new lawmakers were sworn in at the Statehouse Tuesday.
Republicans Tony Cook and Donna Schaibley replace former Representatives Eric Turner and Steve Braun.
Turner resigned after an ethics investigation to work for an Atlanta-based Christian group. Braun joined Gov. Mike Pence’s administration as commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development.
While it was a historic day for Cook, history is something he’s already made.
It was the late 1980s when Ryan White came into his life.
White walked into Hamilton Heights High School, where Cook was principal, under the glare of national cameras. The teenager contracted AIDS through a contaminated blood treatment. Lawsuits and public outcry forced White from his school and community in Kokomo.
That’s when Cook welcomed him in.
“That was an awesome period for my school system,” Cook told FOX 59 Tuesday. “Because it was an opportunity really to do something right with someone that had faced quite a bit of discrimination for an issue that was really not his fault. And I think the kids, who are now in their 40s, and having children of their own, many of them have told me: Hey we did the right thing Mr. Cook. We made someone have the opportunity to experience high school.”
Education will be a top priority at the Statehouse this session.
Both Cook and Schaibley said they’re getting up to speed to prepare for upcoming budget talks.
“Adjusting the funding formula is very important,” Schaibley said. “That was the number one issue when speaking to the committee.”
Both Cook and Schaibley were picked by party members, and not voted into office, because of Turner and Braun’s resignation.
House Speaker Brian Bosma has said ethics reform will be one of his main priorities this session, too.
“The speaker has placed that high on the agenda,” Cook said. “I don’t think it was necessarily because of that incident. I think everything we do should be transparent, and I personally hope we can come up with a high ethical standard in some changes in what we have right now.”
The new session beings January 6th.