Rep. Matt Pierce, D-District 61, and Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-District 40, addressed Bloomington residents’ questions about several education and LGBTQ rights bills at a town hall Thursday in the Monroe County Public Library.
Speaking to a crowd of about 20 Bloomington residents, the representatives discussed Senate and House Bills concerning education, such as Senate Bill 12, which if passed, would allow librarians to be criminally prosecuted if parents filed a complaint about alleged inappropriate material within a library book. SB 12 passed in the Senate in February and has been referred to the House Committee on Education.
Pierce said he expects SB 12 to move forward in the House.
Yoder participated in a similar town hall meeting in Ellettsville earlier in the day Thursday.
Julie Klein, an IU first-year graduate student studying library science, attended the town hall in Bloomington with three other IU library science students and expressed her opposition to the bill.
“We just wanted to pass on our concerns and remind people that the people who should be deciding what books are in libraries are trained professionals like us who have learned how to set aside our biases and think about the community and what the community needs,” Klein said.
Jerome Bingham, an IU second-year graduate student studying library science, asked Pierce and Yoder if enforcement of SB 12 would be up to school districts or police. The bill does not list specific enforcement agencies.
“It just seems like we’re just trying to be censured for just allowing resources to be available for communities,” Bingham said.
Pierce said under the proposed bill, schools would be required to create book review committees with parents and maintain a public list of all available books. Pierce also stated he thinks it is possible but unlikely that prosecutors will prosecute librarians even if the bill passes.
Pierce also discussed HB 1002, which if passed would allow Indiana high school students to use job experience to earn credit towards graduation. The bill would give students scholarships to spend on workforce training outside of their schools. Pierce said this bill represents a shift towards “corporate driven” education.
“Now it’s really becoming much more about producing the workers for the industry,” Pierce said. “We’re now in a world where the expectation is the state is going to pay for all the training for the workers for the specific jobs they’re going to do.”
Yoder listed several bills she believes residents should pay attention to in upcoming weeks, including SB 480, which would prohibit physicians and other medical practitioners from performing gender transition procedures on minors. SB 480 is scheduled for a hearing in the House on March 22.
“Please spread the word and be loud, be active, mobilize and advocate on behalf of all Hoosiers, but in particular the most vulnerable of Hoosiers and that is our trans youth,” Yoder said.
Yoder also said she will be tracking the progress of HB 1608, a proposed bill which would prohibit school employees from providing instruction on human sexuality to Indiana students in kindergarten through third grade. Yoder is opposed to the proposed bill. The bill was approved by the House Education Committee in February.
The representatives also discussed SB 421 which would amend the definition of “wage credits” in Indiana Code and specify the rate for unemployment insurance benefits for claims filed by unemployed individuals after June 30, 2023. According to the bill, wage credits mean remuneration paid for employment by an employer to an individual and remuneration received as types of gratuities. The previous definition, active after July 2012, listed now specific limit to wage credits. Beginning June 30, 2023, wage credits may not exceed $10,625.
A list of bills from the 2023 Session is available on the Indiana General Assembly website.