Sen. Banks to deploy to Afghanistan 

click to enlarge Sen. Jim Banks (right), R-Columbia City, will be deployed in Afghanistan as an officer in the U.S. Navy. - SETH MORIN, THESTATEHOUSEFILE.COM
  • Sen. Jim Banks (right), R-Columbia City, will be deployed in Afghanistan as an officer in the U.S. Navy.
  • Seth Morin, TheStatehouseFile.com

By Seth Morin

State Sen. Jim Banks announced Tuesday plans to take a leave of absence from the state’s General Assembly to deploy to Afghanistan in his role as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Banks’ deployment will last almost eight months, beginning Sept. 5, and will cause him to miss the 2015 legislative session.

Banks, a Columbia City Republican, recently completed training as a supply corps officer.

“Like any member of the armed forces, I knew the day could come when I would be called upon to serve my country overseas,” Banks said. “While it will be very difficult being away from my family for so long, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to join our brave men and women in Afghanistan – just as it’s an honor to serve alongside my fellow legislators in the General Assembly.”

Banks will serve as supply corps officer.

Banks will remain on the November ballot for reelection to the Senate. If reelected, Banks will be sworn into office on Nov. 5 via Skype – a move that’s been approved by two Indiana Supreme Court justices.

Banks said he then plans to request a leave and a caucus of Republican precinct committee members residing in Indiana Senate District 17 will select a temporary replacement.

Banks said he hopes the caucus chooses his wife, Amanda Banks, to fulfill the role during his deployment.

Although she has not given him a final answer on if she wants to run for the position, he expects an announcement from her soon.

“I can’t imagine that anybody in my district could better step into the Senate position and represent our district as will as she could,” Banks said. “She’s imminently qualified.”

Banks said he was prepared to resign from the Senate after learning of his deployment until he found out about a state law allowing him to take a temporary leave of absence.

click to enlarge Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, said he plans to spend more time with his three daughters prior to his deployment in September. - SETH MORIN, THESTATEHOUSEFILE.COM
  • Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, said he plans to spend more time with his three daughters prior to his deployment in September.
  • Seth Morin, TheStatehouseFile.com

Before he leaves, he wants to spend as much time with his three daughters as possible.

“The entire Senate family is extremely proud of Sen. Banks and his service in the Navy and his upcoming tour,” Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R- Fort Wayne, said. “We appreciate the sacrifice he, Amanda, and his three daughters are making so he can carry out his duties.”

Long said the goal is to have the temporary senator sworn in on the legislature’s Organization Day in November.

The temporary senator will serve until Banks returns from his tour of duty and gives notice that his tour is complete. The temporary senator will then be notified that his or her job is done and Banks will return to his seat.

“We anticipate it will work very smoothly in the end,” Long said.

Long added that he has known Amanda for quite some time, saying she is very bright, has great political history, has worked with different organizations, is a quick study, and has a big heart.

“I can’t think of a better person than Amanda to step in for Jim, but we will see what happens.”

Seth Morin is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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