INDIANAPOLIS—Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, announced Tuesday that she would not seek another term in the Indiana Senate, following more than three decades of service to the Indiana General Assembly.
“It is going to be hard to say goodbye,” said Rogers. “I’ve been down here for 34 years and this is like another family for me.”
Rogers said it is time to pass the torch and bring a new voice for Gary into the legislature.
Before her election to the Indiana Senate in 1990, Rogers served eight years in the Indiana House of Representatives. A 38-year veteran of the Gary Public School system, Rogers spent much of her career advocating for greater educational opportunities for Indiana’s children. Rogers presently serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee.
“I am positive about where we are in this point in time and realizing that [education] fluctuates,” said Rogers.
During her tenure at the Statehouse, Rogers was a key voice for children. She authored Heather’s Law, which develops models for schools to educate their students on dating violence. Rogers also authored a school bus safety legislation known as Jo Jo’s law to provide safe transport to students. Additionally, she wrote the state’s first bi-literacy program and strengthened provisions to ensure prospective teachers receive adequate training.
Her most notable accomplishments include her push to create a pathway to allow casino gaming in Indiana. Her efforts moved riverboat casinos inland, opening harbor space, encouraging interstate competition and generating additional jobs in the area. Rogers gained worldwide attention with legislation to raise the age for execution in the state.
This year Rogers will renew her efforts to provide resident tuition rates for children of undocumented workers and expand pre-kindergarten pilot programs.
Prior to her service at the Statehouse, Rogers served two years on the Gary Common Council and was the first woman elected president during that time.
Additionally, Rogers was the first African American to serve as vice chair of the Indiana State Democratic Party and the first African American to serve as Assistant Minority Leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. She presently serves as the Senate Minority Whip.
Rogers graduated with honors from Roosevelt High School in Gary and received both her bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from Indiana University Bloomington.
Upon retirement Rogers says she hopes to be a “snow bird” traveling to Arizona during the winter months to visit her son, grandson and great grandchildren.
Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.