Legislator missing time after surgery

GREENFIELD — A local state lawmaker has missed the first part of the 2016 legislative session as he recovers from an unexpected surgery.

Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, recently had surgery following a health emergency. The lawmaker, who has represented Hancock County at the statehouse since 1998, is now recovering at home.

In a statement to the Daily Reporter, Cherry asked for privacy and prayers as he recovers and released few details about the surgery and his health. Cherry said he’s resting and looking forward to making a full recovery.

He’s expected to be absent for the next few weeks of this year’s session, which is scheduled to wrap up March 14.

“While I am disappointed that I will miss several weeks of this year’s legislative session, my health comes first,” Cherry wrote.

In the meantime, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, has signed on as co-author for the five bills Cherry is proposing, including legislation that would allow Hancock County to increase its food and beverage tax — a tax paid by diners at local restaurants — by 1 percent.

Brown will present the bills as they move through the General Assembly until Cherry is able to return to the Statehouse, Cherry’s press secretary, Samantha Holifield, said.

Brown, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which deals with funding and budget policy, said he’s been in communication with Cherry; residents can be assured the local lawmaker’s bill will be heard while he’s away.

“We are working diligently on behalf of his district and the proposals with local interest,” Brown said in a news release.

Other bills Cherry is proposing include one that would change the qualifications to serve on the state fair commission and state fair board; a bill that establishes court security fees to generate funding for security upgrades at courthouses; and a bill that deals with a variety of property tax matters.

So far, Cherry’s bills have only been assigned to House committees for consideration; no further action has been taken.

Cherry’s legislative assistant, Bradley Favazza, is taking calls and emails from Cherry’s constituents to make sure their interests are represented at the Statehouse, Holifield said.

Cherry represents House district 53, which encompasses Hancock, Rush and Shelby counties. He serves as the vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and on the local government and the rules and legislative procedures committees.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.