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State Bills of Interest: Elections

The following is legislative analyst and social studies educator Randy Hudgins’ take on elections-related bills in the Indiana House and Senate as they relate to Hamilton County. The statuses will be updated as the bills progress (or don’t).


 

House

HB 1376: School controlled project referenda

Author: Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis); coauthors Teshka, McGuire

Summary: HB 1376 in its original form sought to restrict all school referenda to fall general elections (currently they are generally held in off-year spring primary elections). It was a clear effort to make it more difficult for school districts to pass referenda that are vital to school security and operations. It also limits the amount over property tax caps that a referendum can seek. It was amended to stipulate that referenda on school safety and operations can be placed on the ballot in any election, not just the fall general elections. Large long-term capital projects would be subject to the new requirements.

The Bottom Line: The authors of the bill are school choice and voucher advocates who want to stifle the flow of funds to public school students and families. This bill impacts districts that are rapidly growing, which includes most in Hamilton County Several Hamilton County districts have passed referenda recently to cover various costs. The question should be asked as to why one of the most affluent counties in the state needs to turn to school referenda in order to continue providing important services.

Current Status

  • 2/2/24: Referred to Senate

  • 2/1/24: Passed by House, 51 to 44; Senator Freeman named Senate sponsor.

  • 1/31/24: Amended

  • 1/18/24: Passed out of committee

  • 1/10/24: Referred to the committee on Elections and Apportionment

Relevant News Articles

Senate

House Bill 1264: Election Security

Author: Timothy Wesco (R-Osceola)

Summary: HB 1264 addresses who can assist individuals register to vote and the process to follow in registering to vote. Language in the bill demands items that serve as a proof of residence for certain first-time voters. The argument for the bill is that a person could move but not tell the elections administration to purge them from the voter rolls.

The Bottom Line: Concerns were raised in testimony of the long and expensive process this would create for legal permanent residents due to delays in government agencies processing requests. Most controversially, there is a piece in the law that contracts with a company connected to Experian—which runs credit scores—to ascertain whether a person is spending money in a certain county and therefore still residing there. A major concern is a third-party entity getting access to a person’s consumer data without their permission, and passing it on to a local government entity. There is also a concern as to whether that information could possibly be compromised in a data leak. The same committee approved a bill to limit school referenda to general elections (and not primary elections, which have a lower turnout and better chance for passage).

Current Status

  • 2/5/24: Heard by Elections committee.

  • 1/30/24: Referred to House.

  • 1/29/24: Passed by Senate, 67 to 29. Gaskill added as House sponsor; Goodrich (R-Noblesville) added as coauthor.

  • 1/18/24: Passed out of Elections committee.

Relevant News Articles

 

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