By Brandon Barger
INDIANAPOLIS—An Indiana legislator wants to lower the age required to seek a state office to encourage more young people to take part in the state’s lawmaking process.
Rep. Chris Chyung, D-Dyer, announced his proposal Thursday to lower the age to run for either the Indiana House or Senate to age 18, a change that will require an amendment to the state constitution. Currently, the age to run for a seat in the Senate is 25 while the age to run for a seat in the House is 21.
Chyung, who is 26 and a first-term lawmaker, said he will introduce his bill next Tuesday when the General Assembly is at the Statehouse for one day to prepare for the 2020 legislative session.
At a press conference on the steps of the Statehouse, Chyung said he hopes that by lowering the age limit, younger Hoosiers will get engaged in the political process.
“Once you see in the newspaper that someone’s running for school board who’s 18 and then you think ‘Oh, well I know that person’…that’s I think inherently more likely to get you out to vote and get enthusiastic about the process,” Chyung said.
For this amendment to enacted, it must be approved by two consecutively elected general assemblies before going to a public vote. Once it passes those hurdles it then it would become a part of the state constitution.
Chyung is currently looking for a Republican lawmaker to come on board because he said he doesn’t believe that lowering the limit should be a Democrat or Republican idea.
Megan Stoner, liaison for the Indiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council, was a part of the group that tried to introduce a similar bill in 2015. Stoner ran for Madison County council at age 19, losing by only a few hundred votes in the Republican primary. Stoner said she believes that younger lawmakers would “have fresh ideas and a young Hoosier spirit in the Statehouse.”
Dustin Beth, a Republican from Wisconsin, ran for a seat on the Westosha Central High School Board of Education and won in 2014. Beth said that he calls on Indiana Republicans to “not think about the next election, but the next generation.”
The Indiana constitution was last altered in 2018 when voters approved a balanced budget amendment.
FOOTNOTE: Brandon Barger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.