Lauer seeking house seat again

A candidate for the Indiana legislature who planned to challenge State Rep. Milo Smith of Columbus for the third time in the Republican spring primary, for now, has suddenly found himself the only GOP candidate in the race for 59th District State Representative.

When Ryan Lauer, 40, challenged incumbent Smith in the 2016 Republican primary race, the former Bartholomew County council president lost by slightly more than a thousand votes.

After Smith announced Jan. 11 that he would not seek a seventh term, Lauer complimented the retiring lawmaker and his contributions to the community.

But Lauer also is taking aim at what he calls “establishment politicians who have failed to deliver.”

He is referring to Indiana lawmakers who approved a 10-cents-per-gallon increase in the gas tax last year with promises to spend it solely on roads and infrastructure, he said.

“Those promises have been broken,” Lauer said. “Sums are being set aside for other purposes.”

Under last year’s bill, both Columbus and Bartholomew County governments will see their share of gas tax revenues drop from 47 percent currently to 40 percent four years from now.

If elected, Lauer said he will propose legislation to stop automatic increases in the gas tax, which he said will go up 3.5 percent per year.

Columbus educator Dale Nowlin announced in October that he would seek the Democratic nomination for District 59 state representative, and Nowlin officially filed his candidacy last week.

For Lauer, the most pressing need for state lawmakers is to take decisive action regarding the widespread opioid crisis, he said.

“With over 30 overdose deaths here last year, increasing crime rates, the heavy burden on our jails and public safety officers, and a crisis in the Department of Child Services, we must attack this problem now as a top priority,” Lauer said.

That means resources must be focused to promote awareness, increase enforcement and incorporate evidence-based treatment, he said.

Lauer also pledged to advocate for institutional reform within Indiana’s child welfare system.

In terms of schools, Lauer pledged to give more control of education to local communities and expanding school choice for parents and students.

“I will be a strong voice for improving education, increasing public safety, lowering taxes and promoting conservative values,” Lauer said.

Ryan Lauer

Age: 40

Residence: Columbus

Occupation: Technical specialist for Cummins Inc.

Past office: Bartholomew County Council

Previous elected offices held: Bartholomew County Council, 2010-2014

Previous elected offices sought: District 59 representative, 2014 and 2016, unsuccessful

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Indiana University.

Community involvement: Member/chairman of Grace Lutheran Church congregation; has served on sheriff’s merit board; Community Corrections Advisory Committee; Computer and Data Board; UnCommon Cause; “Save Eos” campaign.

Family: Wife, Blair. Three children, Awyn, 3; Lillian, 2; Issac, three months.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.