Compiled by Randy Hudgins
Each week we will take a look at what’s happening in the Indiana legislature with insights from social studies educator Randy Hudgins. This is his report on the highlights from last week.
Bills of Interest
Senate Bill 480—Gender-affirming Care for Minors (author: JoAnna King-R): It is important to note that Indiana is not the only state trying to pass this law. It is also important to note that this law is not the result of grassroots activism in this state, but a concerted national effort by big-pocket donor-supported conservative groups. This bill aims to prevent gender reassignment surgery for minors, which does not occur in this state. However, it also prevents the continuation of hormone therapies and puberty blockers for patients who are already taking them. The author of the bill asserted that these therapies are “unproven and harmful” because they are not authorized by the FDA. Meanwhile, many over-the-counter medications and supplements that millions of Americans take are not authorized by the FDA. Multiple credible medical associations have testified to the safety of these forms gender-affirming care.
Democratic lawmakers also argued that this law does not affirm the “parental rights” of Hoosier families, which has been an oft-cited trope of the GOP this term. Parental Rights if it comes to certain issues, but no Parental Rights if it comes to other issues. (Read WFYI’s coverage.)
House Bill 1608—“Don’t Say Gay” (author: Michelle Davis-R): This is another bill that is passing multiple state legislatures as a result of a concerted campaign by national conservative groups bankrolled by high-level donors. There are two main parts: Language attempting to prevent students from using preferred pronouns, and the prohibition of teaching “human sexuality” from Pre/K to 3rdGrade. There is no set definition of this term in the law as far as this correspondent can tell. It will be interesting to see if a process is developed in the bill to identify who can report the violation of this law and whom will be in charge of enforcing this law. An amendment passed requiring teachers and schools to report any student request for a name change in school, even if it is not counter to the name of their gender assigned at birth, within 5 business days. Another amendment passed stating that a teacher could not be disciplined for not calling a student by their preferred name or pronoun if it violated the teacher’s “religious beliefs.” No word yet on how a principal, superintendent, or school board could verify the veracity of the teacher’s religious conviction. This may open a pandora’s box for teachers to claim religious conviction for not following many questionable education bills working their way through the legislature. This correspondent must also ask: Since when does a teacher’s religious belief enter in to how they perform their job in a public school setting? If there is a religious exemption on this issue, would this not be a gateway to religious objections on other issues and policies? It seems that this is yet another area where some of the church is worming its way into the state. (Read WFYI's and Indiana Capital Chronicle’s coverage and listen to the Session Sessions podcast.)
Senate Bill 77—Throwing Stars (author: Liz Brown-R, Linda Rogers-R): The legislative body that last year approved the carrying of certain types of firearms without a permit is poised to allow the same for throwing stars as of July 1. Legislation on this “issue” was first brought on behalf of ax-throwing establishments, which have become popular in recent years. The bill is amended to extend to other areas of society, but, like other weapons, they are not allowed in sensitive facilities like schools. (Read WFYI’s coverage.)
Issues Not Addressed or Marginally Addressed This Week
- Senate Bill 1: Increasing the mental health treatment infrastructure in our state
- Addressing maternal health and infant mortality
- Recruiting and retaining quality teachers for every classroom in Indiana
- Increasing the number of quality, affordable daycare slots in the state of Indiana
This week in Todd Huston:
Niki Kelly throwing shade at the “Parental Rights” crowd:
Testimony heard by Senate on bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe some forms of birth control:
Perhaps a good weekend to take an out-of-Indy-area vacation…
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