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The Indiana Daily Student

city politics

Key bills that survived statehouse deadlines

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It’s the fifth week of Indiana’s legislative session which ushered in important deadlines for bills to advance within the General Assembly.  

House bills were required to have their third readings in the House by Feb. 5, and Senate bills were due for a third reading Feb. 6. Bills that didn’t make it to the deadline are now dead. Active bills have been passed to their opposite chambers, and must survive three more readings and committee before being sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk. There, they can either be signed or vetoed.  

So far during Indiana’s short, non-budget session, several notable bills have been struck down after failing to advance by deadline, including legislation about prior authorization in healthcare, cell phones in schools and marijuana legalization. 

However, other bills have seen a fast track to their opposite chambers. Here’s the current status of a few key bills that are still advancing:  

Senate Bill 2  

Senate Bill 2, a key priority bill for this session, would require the Family and Social Services Administration to study compensation for child care workers and publish an online dashboard providing Hoosiers with information regarding state and federal child care subsidies. It would also relax some age requirements in staffing, dropping the age requirement for child care workers from 21 down to 18 and even allowing workers as young as 16 in some cases.  

Additionally, workers would no longer need to recertify for CPR each year. Under the bill, the state would also establish a pilot study of three child care microcenters – facilities caring for 3-30 children that would operate under fewer state regulations than the FSSA typically requires.  

The bill is a part of  an effort to expand the workforce as Indiana faces a shortage of child care providers. Indiana currently has 4,186 regulated child care providers, according to data from Brighter Future Indiana. But this number doesn’t meet the current demand for child care in Indiana, with an estimated 502,000 children in need of care.  

“Child care is an infrastructure issue facing Indiana and we need to offer options that help Hoosier families,” the bill’s author Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said in a press release. “Senate Bill 2 would help expand the child care options for Hoosiers and make it more reliable and affordable, thus bolstering our workforce.”  

Senate Bill 2 had its first reading in the House Feb. 6 and was referred to the Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs. 

Senate Bill 128  

Sexual education would be regulated under Senate Bill 128, which would require lesson plans to be approved by the local school board and posted on the school’s website. One of the most controversial bills of this session, the legislation has raised questions about political beliefs in schools.  

In Indiana, a bill was passed in 2023 prohibiting instruction on human sexuality from pre-Kk through third grade, permitted starting in fourth grade. But sex education is not mandated in schools state law only requires schools teach about HIV and AIDS prevention, and when sexual education is taught, abstinence is emphasized.  

The state already has several provisions allowing local review and control over curricular materials. Under Public Law 154, schools are required to try two times to obtain written parental permission two times for students to participate in sex education. If permission is not denied after two attempts, students are automatically enrolled in the instruction, and parents can withdraw students without penalty. School boards can also already review and approve curricular materials, and school corporations must make these materials available to parents.  

Under Senate Bill 128, schools would be required to provide a direct link to the curricular information in the school’s written request for consent for instruction. The information provided would need to include the grade level, course or class in which students will receive human sexuality instruction; the weeks it will be taught; whether instruction will be given in a unified or co-ed setting; a short description of the topics that will be discussed; and all learning material that will be used for instruction. 

The ACLU of Indiana released a statement opposing the legislation.  

“Legislators are using a broad, undefined term, ‘human sexuality,’ to censor what teachers can and cannot discuss,” the statement read. “We know that this language has historically been used to censor conversations about the LGBTQ community. All students deserve a high quality and inclusive education that isn’t censored by school board members’ personal or political concerns.”  

Senate Bill 128 passed its third Senate reading and was referred to the House Feb. 6.  

House Bill 1002 

House Bill 1002 codifies antisemitism as religious discrimination in public education, specifically adding it to the state’s public policy concerning equal education opportunities for students regardless of race, creed, national origin, color or sex.  

The bill is another priority measure for House Republicans this year after an identical bill died in 2023 after not receiving a Senate reading. 

In addition to specifying that antisemitism is religious discrimination, House Bill 1002 would also formally define antisemitism using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition. The IHRA definition has been adopted by both IU- Bloomington and the IU Student Government. It reads as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain peception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”  

The bill, which author Rep. Chris Jeter, R-Fishers, stated was a response to rising antisemitism following the events of Oct. 7, clarifies antisemitism “does not include criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country.” Those in favor of the bill say it will eliminate ambiguity surrounding what antisemitism actually looks like, making it easier for schools to identify and discipline antisemitic behavior. Critics of the bill, however, worry enforcement of the bill could be subjective and question the lack of a similar bill to address incidents of Islamophobia, which have also risen.  

House Bill 1002 passed its first Senate reading Feb. 5 and was referred to the Committee on Education and Career Development.  

House Bill 1264  

Under House Bill 1264, which seeks to increase election security, first-time voters in Indiana general elections registering to vote in person would now be required to present photo identification and a piece of mail verifying their address. This is unless the person registering submitted their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number with their voter application.  

Voting officials would be required to compare statewide voter rolls with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ list of people with temporary credentials, notifying a person’s local county office if they are suspected to be a noncitizen. The person would have 30 days to provide proof of citizenship before their registration is canceled, but they can file an appeal for review. The Secretary of State would also be able to contract with a third-party company to receive commercially available data, such as from a credit agency, to identify voters whose residences may have changed.  

Additionally, the bill would require the state voter registration system to develop a feature identifying voter registrations that list a potential non-residential address like an office, shelter or church. Voting officials would then have to investigate the addresses to verify whether a potential voter actually lives there.  

The bill would not apply to out-of-town military members and overseas voters. However, some say the bill could disenfranchise immigrants and people with nontraditional addresses like college students. Additionally, it can take up to eight months to receive a certificate of citizenship after filing, which could make it difficult to meet the bill’s 30-day requirement. 

House Bill 1264 had its first reading in the Senate Feb. 5 and was referred to the Committee on Elections. 

House Bill 1004  

Indiana’s public retirees would see a boost under House Bill 1004, which would provide a 13th check to retired public employees who are part of the state’s pension program, including teachers, state excise police, gaming agents, conservation officers and state police officers. While retirees typically receive either a cost-of-living adjustment or 13th check each year as a bonus to their pension, Indiana only gave out COLAs to select retirees in 2023. House Bill 1004 would reinstate the 13th check.  

The payments would be based on the number of years an employee worked as computed in their retirement plan. Payments start at $150 and could go up to $450 depending on how many decades an employee worked.  

House Bill 1004 had its first reading in the Senate Feb. 5 and was referred to the Committee on Appropriations. 

Senate Bill 14  

State lawmakers have been allowed to carry a gun in the statehouse since 2017. Under Senate Bill 14, that permission would be expanded to allow the Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Comptroller and State Treasurer – along with their full-time staff members – to carry handguns in the statehouse and the nearby State Capitol Complex.  

Members of the state legislature and legislative employees have been allowed to carry handguns – as long as they are legally permitted to possess a handgun – since 2017. While state law does not require staff members to disclose when they bring a gun into the statehouse, staff currently must provide a copy of their permit upon registration. 

But Indiana repealed its past permit requirement for Hoosiers to legally carry a handgun in 2022, and Senate Bill 14 would also allow lawmakers to go permitless.  

The bill’s author, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, said the bill is a protective measure against high crime rates in Indianapolis, according to reporting from the Indiana Capital Chronicle.  

Senate Bill 14 had its first reading in the House Feb. 6 and was referred to the Committee on Public Policy.  

House Bill 1019 

Children could be in luck under a lighter move by the legislature: a bill prohibiting counties, cities, health departments and homeowner associations from banning lemonade stands or requiring permits or fees for the sale of non-alcoholic beverages. 

House Bill 1019 would eliminate current Indiana regulations that technically require children to have a permit to operate a lemonade stand, although that requirement is rarely enforced. The bill does impose the rules that a child needs the owner’s permission if running a stand on private property, and a stand cannot operate for more than two consecutive days and more than eight days of every 30.  

House Bill 1019 was referred to the Senate Feb. 6. 

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