The suburban Indianapolis state representative who shepherded into law Indiana's new, two-year state budget and its transformational gaming statute is poised to become the new leader of the Indiana House.
House Republicans announced Monday they've chosen state Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, to succeed House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, when the retiring Bosma steps down as chamber leader toward the end of the 2020 legislative session.
In the meantime, Speaker-elect Huston will serve a kind of apprenticeship to Bosma, whose 12 years as House leader are more than any person in Indiana's 213-year history.
"This is truly an honor and a privilege to have this opportunity, made certainly easier by being under the mentorship of somebody I have such great respect for as Speaker Bosma," Huston said. "Huge shoes to fill and I am just going to do the best I can to fill them."
Bosma said Huston was the only speaker candidate nominated Monday during a private meeting of the 67 Republicans in the 100-member chamber, and Huston likewise was elected unanimously.
Over the next three months, Bosma plans to work closely with Huston to show him everything the speaker does — both at the House rostrum and behind the scenes — to ensure "the smoothest transition possible" when Bosma hands over the gavel, likely in early March.
"I am truly pleased and confident in the future of our state," Bosma said.
Standing in the House chamber, Huston pledged to follow Bosma's example of respecting every state representative and managing the Statehouse in a professional manner.
"We're going to be aggressive in moving the state forward, but we're going to do it in a way that brings honor to this building," Huston said.
Unlike Bosma, who served 19 years in the House before becoming speaker in 2005-06, and again since 2011, Huston is in just his fourth two-year term.
In that time, though, Huston successfully has managed seemingly all the challenges thrown at him, including negotiating the state budget in place of then-injured state Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, and fashioning a gaming compromise that authorized a land-based Gary casino and legalized sports wagering.
Outside the Statehouse, Huston is senior vice president for the College Board, the company that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement exams.
Huston also is a former member of his local school board and the State Board of Education. He spent two years as chief of staff to former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who worked closely with Bosma in 2011 to expand the availability of charter schools and private school vouchers in Indiana.
House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said he looks forward to working with Huston to ensure the House continues having vigorous debates on issues most important to Hoosiers, including affordable health care, quality education and a healthy environment.
On the other hand, State Democratic Party Chairman John Zody noted Huston's new role as speaker means he'll have a tough time next year in his rapidly changing House district answering for the extremist policies he'll be forced to defend on behalf of House Republicans.
"There's no winning when Speaker Huston's decisions imperil Representative Huston's electoral future," Zody said.
Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, was more charitable, deeming Huston "a great choice" by House Republicans.
"Over the years I've worked with Todd, I have come to know him as a dedicated public servant with vision and integrity," Bray said.
"I look forward to working with both him and Speaker Bosma this session as they make the transition, and I have no doubt Rep. Huston and I will be able to work very well together as we craft policy for the state of Indiana."
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb similarly described Huston's selection as a "home run" for Indiana.
"He has proven himself a strong leader and has touched so many facets of state government through the budget process," Holcomb said.
"Having a year to learn from Speaker Bosma will prove invaluable. I look forward to working with him and Sen. Bray going forward."