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Lawmakers clash during morning session at Indiana Statehouse

Two state representatives engaged in a heated exchange while discussing House Bill 1367, which Democrats believe promotes segregation.

INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday morning's legislative session at the Indiana Statehouse ended with some harsh words between two legislators. 

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) took some responsibility for not controlling the floor when Republicans and Democrats verbally went at each other. 

"It's a challenging session for all of us," said Huston.

Huston started the afternoon session trying to set the tone following the heated morning session. It involved words between Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) and Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis). Democrats objected to legislation sponsored by two Republican senators and a Republican representative. House Bill 1367 would "initiate a process to disannex certain territory from an existing school corporation."

Democrats believe the bill promotes segregation and said so during the third reading. They also claim segregation is an issue they claim they must deal with on the house floor themselves.

"I notice that even the people that used to talk to you and say hello are not even speaking. If they are dealing with their own prejudices and white privileges, then that's on them, but we are going to tell you about it," Summers said.

Eberhart reportedly denied using profanity towards Summers. A local newspaper reporter who covers the legislature tweeted that she thought she heard Eberhart use profanity to call Summers a derogatory word. But then later deleted the tweet to report that the Republican representative told her he did not do so. 

The afternoon session stayed calm as the house speaker insisted on calling for both parties to show respect.

"Let's show the people at the mic the respect. Do your best while you are at your desk," said Huston. "Let's make sure we have respect and communication every step of the way."

The House of Representatives has held their sessions in the auditorium of the south building at the Indiana Government Center due to the pandemic. Huston also talked about the impact it has had on everyone. 

13News reached out to Eberhart, but did not get a response. House Bill 1367 passed after its third reading Thursday morning, despite the heated confrontation. Democrats have not indicated any further action against the measure at this time. Since part of that exchange between Eberhart and Summers did hit social media, Summers said that her phone has not stopped ringing. 

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