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(INDIANAPOLIS) — A bill to make it harder to change a city’s name might make it easier in some


Republican Senator Jack Sandlin says Indianapolis businesses asked for the bill to head off any

idea of changing Indy’s name. He says there’s no movement he’s aware of to do that, but says renaming efforts elsewhere have put the issue on the radar.

Indiana University trustees voted last year to remove the name of 19th-century IU president David Starr Jordan over his enthusiastic embrace of eugenics, while efforts elsewhere have targeted names with Native American connections, links to Confederate figures, and other names flagged as inappropriate or offensive. Sandlin says there’s both a monetary cost to reprinting piles of business stationery, and an intangible cost to rebuilding the identity a city has worked to establish.

The Senate has already passed Sandlin’s bill blocking any name change for Indy or other cities

mentioned by name in state law. But a House committee has put off a vote while the legislature’s

research arm reviews how different cities would be affected. Indianapolis and four other cities are

named in the Constitution, and there’s an argument they may already be immune to a name change

without a constitutional amendment.

Analysts are also studying just how many references there are in the rest of Indiana law to an

estimated 140 cities.

Current law says a petition signed by 500 city voters puts a name change before the city council.

The bill would put the decision to a referendum instead, and would make the signature

requirement the same as third parties face to get on an election ballot: 2% of the vote for

secretary of state. But for cities up to the size of Muncie, that would likely reduce the number of

signatures needed, not raise it.

Indianapolis Representative Justin Moed (D) questions the need for the bill. He says it seeks to

ban name changes no one has proposed, while not addressing name changes which are taking

place, to streets, parks and buildings.