In the late 60s and 70s, the General Assembly did extensive research (h/t Indiana Law Blog) into amending Indiana’s constitution. (There was also a Judicial Committee that worked concurrently on revision to the judicial article of the Indiana Constitution. The working committee was headed by former governors Welsh and Handley. Handley would die in 1972 before the work was complete.
The Constitutional Revision Commission had considered the possibility of a constitutional convention but ultimately rejected that idea and decided to pursue a series of amendments instead. The Commission endorsed, among other things, 1) an amendment that would allow a bill to address multiple subject matters when it was for the purpose of codifying Indiana law or revising the codifications; 2) an amendment that would have the governor and lieutenant governor run as a team — eliminating the possibility of a split ticket; 3) an amendment setting the voting age at 18 and setting the residency requirement at 30 days living in the precinct; 4) legislative (rather than Constitutional) policymaking in favor of home rule for local government; 5) an amendment that repealed the 61 day, biennial session limitation and allowed the General Assembly to set the length and frequency of its sessions by law; 6) an amendment that allowed the governor to serve two consecutive terms; 7) an amendment extending the terms of Secretary, Auditor, and Treasurer of State to four year terms; 8) providing for the method of selection and length of term of the Secretary of Public Instruction to be set by law; 9) revising the Militia article to account for changes in the time — for example the use of the federally funded National Guard as the state militia.
It was this period of reform, I believe, when the General Assembly created the Indiana Legislative Services Agency in the late 1960s. I worked for the agency from 1996 – 1999. While I’m obviously not shy about sharing my opinions these days, I took seriously — as I believe most who work there do — the charge that LSA was to be a nonpartisan arm of the General Assembly. We strove to identify problem spots with legislation and/or constitutional issues without imposing our views of what policy ought to be pursued or whether legislation was good or bad. This professionalization of legislative drafting, (in my very biased opinion) led to an improvement in the quality of the legislation (again — leaving aside the policies pursued.) The Indiana Code is, by and large, well written; particularly when compared against, say, the United States Code which is sloppy and unnecessarily confusing.
Additionally, there was a Judicial Commission that studied and advocated changes to the judicial article of the Constitution. Some of the changes were not adopted, but the appellate courts were altered to have the judges and justices selected by a judicial nominating commission that sent choices to the Governor for appointment. The Commission was also active in advocating legislation that would consolidate and expedite operation of the trial courts. It also addressed the transition away from justice-of-the-peace courts, replacing it with a system of small claims courts and traffic courts.
In 1976, Whitcomb ran against Senator Lugar for the U.S. Senate seat but was defeated. He returned to the practice of law for a time, but in 1986, recently divorced and retired, Whitcomb took up sailing — in his 70s. He traveled from port to port, and just kept going. “In 1995, while attempting to sail around the world, his ship hit a reef in the Gulf of Suez and sank. He was rescued and returned to the United States.” In 2000, Governor Whitcomb bought a secluded cabin in the Hoosier National Forest and continued to live there until he was 98 and passed away on February 4, 2016.