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 of bills in committee during the 14th week of the current session.

Bills Passing or Going Through Committee

House Bill 100—State Budget (author: Jeff Thompson-R): The Senate Appropriations Committee issued their two-year budget proposal on Thursday. In several ways, it stands in marked contrast to the House budget. A major headline was no new funding to the state’s voucher program, which is one of the largest in the nation. Instead, the Senate chose to raise Medicaid spending. Chairman Ryan Mishler indicated that Medicaid funding needs are rising faster than even K–12 funding needs. The budget also shifted payment of textbook fees back to the state, rather than the budgets of individual school corporations as in the House version. A concern was expressed that the budget shifts certain property tax revenues from public school systems to local public charter schools in the same geographic area, but not necessarily within the same school district. A longstanding Senate priority of substantially paying down pension debts is also covered. A sum of $35 million dollars is scheduled to be allocated to pay for SB 1, funding mental health support for Hoosier citizens and communities, but it does not fund the state obligation for operating the 988 mental health hotline. Senators left open which funding mechanism will be needed to pay for this budget item, as some suggested a $2 increase to the state’s cigarette tax. The budget, for the first time in several cycles, allocates less than 50% of its total to K–12 education. Obviously there will be a lot of maneuvering this week as the Senate must pass the budget through their chamber before the particulars are hammered out in conference committee between the two chambers. In addition, the state revenue forecast will come out on Wednesday, which will provide finite amounts of funding that lawmakers can include in the final budget.

More from the Indiana Capital Chronicle

Senate Bill 486—Educational Matters (author: Linda Rogers-R): The shock of the Senate Budget release on Thursday threw the House Republican Caucus into a tailspin. As such, they did not get to a final vote on Senate Bill 486. Teachers were out in full force on Thursday and will be again on Monday to oppose this bill. Under the guise of a bill to reduce regulations and mandatory trainings, the Republicans tried to sneak in provisions to end the mandate that building-level administrators must meet in person with teachers on concerns regarding classroom conditions, work conditions, class sizes, discipline, and overall school climate concerns. It is an attempt to undo a right that was put in place 50 years ago to avoid labor stoppages that plagued Indiana schools in the 1970s. This bill will do absolutely nothing to solve our ongoing teacher shortage.

More from WFYI

Senate Bill 265—TANF Eligibility (author: Jon Ford-R, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers): This bill is on the governor’s desk and will expand eligibility for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—food stamps) benefits in Indiana slowly over the next four years. Income standards for families qualifying for TANF have not increased since the 1980s. Think for a moment what certain items cost in 1986 compared to now. The bill also provides for a pregnant woman to gain access to the program with less restriction. There are still existing limitations on how much and how long a person can stay on this version of public assistance.

More from WFYI

Senate Bill 380—Education Matters (author: Jeff Raatz-R): The Senate tried to fold most of the language from SB 12—which sought to criminalize educators and libraries from offering books that a minority of social conservative warriors objected to—into this bill that tried to use the dress code to expel students. The original SB 12 was not called in the House Education Committee. This amendment was not voted on as the bill was passed out of committee. As of now, it appears we have narrowly escaped the worst of this bill for this session. There is no guarantee, however, that it could not be copied and pasted into a related (or completely unrelated) bill in the next two weeks.

More from the Indiana Capital Chronicle

House Bill 1608—Education Matters (author: Michelle Davis-R): The Senate passed a version of HB 1608, known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill. Since it is a different version than the one that passed the House, the matter will need to go to conference committee if the House does not concur with the version the Senate passed. There are some rumblings that the House may not concur and the matter may go to conference committee. Currently the bill is a shell of its former self as it prohibits discussion of “human sexuality” in K–3 classrooms and requires parental notification by school officials if students ask to be called by a different name or different pronouns.

More from the Indiana Capital Chronicle

House Bill 1568—Prescription for Hormonal Contraceptives (author: Elizabeth Rowray-R): This bill enjoys bipartisan support from both chambers. It passed this week with some restrictions as to pharmacists being able to prescribe birth control medications for up to a year. As of now there are not a lot of news articles on this bill, but it went through on Thursday. It is concerning that this bill passed by a narrow vote this week in light of the federal court’s action on Mifepristone.

More from the Indiana ACLU

Upcoming Items of Importance

Tuesday, April 18: Committee hearings on bills must conclude in both houses by this Thursday. Bills must pass both houses by Tuesday, April 18, or they will be dead.

Wednesday, April 19: The updated revenue forecast will come out. This will have a major impact on the state budget.

Saturday, April 29, Sine Die: The General Assembly session must be concluded by this day.

Later: The Indiana Supreme Court is still yet to issue their final ruling on the constitutionality of the recent near total abortion ban in Indiana. The case was argued in January, and there is no clear indication on when an opinion will be handed down. Until that opinion is handed down, the law cannot be enforced.

Issues Not Addressed or Marginally Addressed This Week 

Recruiting and retaining quality teachers for every classroom in Indiana

Increasing the number of quality, affordable daycare slots in the state of Indiana

For Further Reading

Paying for 988 Services in our state?

Delay on Mifepristone ban handed down by US Supreme Court on Friday

Senate Democrats cite decorum for not shouting “no” on voice vote against resolution honoring LaPierre and the NRA, which is in town for its national convention

Lori Hand


Precinct Chair, Noblesville 29; HamCo Dems Communications Committee member.