Lauer makes 2nd bid to oust District 59 incumbent

The former president of the Bartholomew County Council has once again filed his candidacy to represent the county in the Indiana statehouse.

Ryan Lauer will challenge incumbent Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, for the District 59 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives during the May Republican primary.

Lauer also was a candidate in the 2014 District 59 Republican primary but was defeated by Smith, who filed his candidacy for the 2016 race on Jan. 25. Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson also will run on the Republican ticket.

Lauer, an engineer with Cummins Inc. and father of two, said he will champion school choice during his campaign.

As a lawmaker, Lauer said he would propose legislation that would introduce education savings accounts — personal funds for every student that could be used for tutoring, college preparation, school materials and other special needs.

Additionally, the accounts would enable students from low-income families to receive 100 percent funding to attend private schools, while other students would receive 90 percent funding.

“The idea is that it gives more control over where your child can go to school,” Lauer said. “If you would like to go to a private school or a different school, that, especially for middle and lower income, might be out of reach.”

Lauer’s campaign also will focus on funding for local roads.

Lawmakers are currently considering raising the state gas tax of 4 cents to generate infrastructure revenues, an idea that Smith supports.

But Lauer, like Republican Gov. Mike Pence, said he does not support raising the gas tax. Instead, he thinks lawmakers should use available money in the state reserves — which total more than $2 billion — to fund road projects.

“With money in the bank and good fiscal management and a 10-year plan, we can give cities and counties what they need and give them an infusion of cash out of the reserves to kick-start road repairs and infrastructure improvements,” he said.

Finally, Lauer said his experience on the county council from 2011 to 2014 has given him extensive insight into local fiscal needs. As the District 59 representative, he would use that insight to advocate for the best interests of Bartholomew County residents, especially when it comes to county funding, he said.

“I think we should live within our means, keep taxes low and make sure the government is providing the best services it can,” Lauer said.

In addition to the three Republican candidates, Democrats Bob Pitman and Dale Nowlin also have filed to run for the District 59 seat.

Ryan Lauer bio

Name: Ryan Lauer

Age: 38

Office sought: Indiana House District 59 representative

Party: Republican

Previous offices sought: Bartholomew County Council (2010, successful), District 59 representative (2014, unsuccessful)

Occupation: Senior engineer in test technology engineering at Cummins Inc.

Education: Indiana University Bloomington, bachelor of science, biochemistry

Community involvement: Member/chairman of Grace Lutheran Church congregation; Sheriff’s Merit Board; Community Corrections Advisory Committee; Computer and Data Board; UnCommon Cause; “Save Eos” campaign

Family: Wife, Blair; daughters, Awyn and Lillian

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.