State Senator Jim Banks, a Naval Reserve officer, is being deployed to Afghanistan this fall and will miss the entire 2015 legislative session.
Banks will use a provision in state law to take a temporary leave from his seat rather than resign, the first time a state lawmaker has used that provision.
Banks missed the last week of session this year on a training assignment in Rhode Island. But his deployment to Afghanistan will span seven months, from September through April. The Columbia City Republican received the order a few weeks ago and says he was prepared to resign.
“I was notified by the Senate staff and leadership there is a provision in the state law that would allow me to take a temporary leave of absence," Banks said. "That is my decision alone to make whether or not to activate that provision and it’s one that I feel strongly is important for me to make in order that my Senate district will continue to be represented while I’m away.”
If reelected, Banks – who is unopposed in this fall’s election – would be sworn into office via Skype from Afghanistan. His replacement would then be chosen by a caucus of GOP precinct committeemen. Banks says he’s encouraging his wife to replace him.
Amanda Banks has long been active in politics, working on a congressional campaign and as a policy analyst for a conservative organization.