GOP state senator deploying to Afghanistan

Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City)
A Republican state senator is heading overseas for military duty in Afghanistan and asking his wife to fill his seat while he is gone.
Sen. Jim Banks of Columbia City announced Tuesday that he is to start a Navy Reserve deployment in September and return at the end of April. He said he has asked his wife Amanda to consider serving in his absence, which will include the entire 2015 legislative session.
He said he was prepared to resign until he learned state law allows sitting lawmakers to leave on deployments and continue serving in the Legislature after they return. He said he chose to do that because he's committed to serving both the state and his country.

"I'm proud every time I walk onto this Senate floor and I'm proud every time I wear the uniform of a United States officer," said Sen. Banks.

In the meantime, a caucus of Republican committee members in the district can pick a temporary replacement.
Banks is running unopposed for re-election in November from his northeastern Indiana district. The Indiana Supreme Court has signed off on him being sworn into office via Skype.

The Associated Press contributed to portions of this report.