Longtime Indiana Lawmaker Dies at 79

December 06, 2010

Former Indiana Republican State Senator Joe Harrison is being remembered as an icon and a mentor for many now serving in the legislature.

The 40-year Senator who served as majority leader for 25 years died Thursday in Chicago after suffering a heart attack while visiting his daughters. He was 79.

Senator and Majority Floor Leader Connie Lawson succeeded Harrison as Senate Majority Leader. In her first legislative session in 1997, she said no one was more enthusiastic to see legislators back at the capitol. Lawson said Harrison was eager to explain complicated issues to new lawmakers, having served on his pension and labor committee for her first two years.

"That's not an easy committee to serve on and the bills are not easy to read," Lawson said. "He was always eager to teach each and every one of us what those bills meant. I just remember the way he ran his committee was in a professional and efficient way."

Harrison shared some of the same legislative area as Lafayette Republican Senator Ron Alting when he first campaigned. Alting said Harrison was always a statesman, and never a politician - who acted in the best interests of his constituents, even when his decisions were not the most popular. Alting said Harrison would fight controversial topics head-on, adding that his efficiency helped taxpayers.

"He told you if you testified to get to the point," Alting recalled. "He focused right to what the subject matter was and say your piece and sit down."

Funeral services for Harrison will be Thursday in Attica.

Story source: WILL