INPEA Statehouse Express

Statehouse Express: Season 4, Episode 5

February 27, 2023 INPEA Season 4 Episode 5
INPEA Statehouse Express
Statehouse Express: Season 4, Episode 5
Show Notes Transcript

Early this week we will reach what is called crossover in the legislative session when the Senate and House will finish up their business for the first half of the session.  INPEA Executive Director John Elcesser recaps what's happened so far in the legislative session. Don't miss this episode of the Statehouse Express! 

Statehouse Express: Season 4, Episode  5

Welcome to Season 4 Episode # 5 of the Statehouse Express! I’m John Elcesser, Executive Director of INPEA and thanks for joining us for another update from the Statehouse. 

This week we will reach what is called crossover in the legislative session. It’s similar to halftime of a sporting event. The Senate and House will finish up their business for the first half of the session on Monday and Tuesday and then they will take a break until next week when they’ll start the second half of the session. Any bill that passed out of one chamber will start over in the second chamber. Any bills that did not pass on third reading in one chamber will be considered dead.

Here’s an update on key bills that saw some action last week:

HB 1001 – The House Budget passed out of the House 66 -29 along party lines. This version of the budget contains the choice expansions, including eliminating pathways, increasing income eligibility to 400% of FRL for both the Choice Scholarship and Tax Credit Scholarship Programs. It also includes increases to state tuition support which will also impact the 90% voucher amounts. These expansions will face much greater resistance in the Senate. More about that later.

HB 1591 – is a various education matters bill, which I refer to as a “kitchen sink” bill it also includes the fees language fix, the birthdate eligibility fix and expanding the use of SGO funds for PreK. It passed out of the Senate 93-0. The author of the bill masterfully included enough things in the bill that everyone wants, it almost had to pass. It now heads to the Senate and as I’ve said before everything is harder in the Senate. 

HB 1590 - another kitchen sink bill also includes the removal of the required voucher lottery. It also passed out of the House unanimously

HB 1002 - a priority bill for the House, includes a new concept of CTE ESAs in an effort to increase access for work force opportunities for high schoolers passed out of the House by a vote 70-25.

HB 1492 - which makes some significant changes to the school safety grant program passed out of the House 95-0. The bill continues access of non-public schools to the grant program.

HB 1382 - establishes a grant fund to support robotics programs and competitions. It passed out of the House 91-0. 

HB 1608 – Brought a long and contentious debate to the House education committee last Monday. The original bill would have forbidden teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K -3. The bill was amended using language of not teaching about human sexuality. In a contested move, Non-pubs were amended out of that part of the bill. Simultaneously, another amendment that would not allow the use of pronouns or names that were not aligned with a child’s birth sex without parental permission. Unfortunately, nonpubs were included in the amendment. I think it was unintentional. Philosophically, many INPEA members may not be in opposition to the intent of the bill but that is not true of all INPEA members. And all INPEA members would be in opposition to the State adding more regulations, especially those that may infringe on a school’s mission. We hope to get nonpubs removed from that bill on the Senate side, but that could be easier said than done. 

So just like at halftime in any sport, the coach usually gives a pep talk about how to approach the second half and that’s no different in the public policy world in a legislative session. 

In terms of our choice expansion, we didn’t have to work very hard to be successful on the House side. The House has historically been more supportive of choice and its expansions. The battle has always been on the Senate side and that will be even more true this year! As I shared in a prior episode, a very influential senator has taken an issue that he has manifested with a voucher school and is applying it to the entire voucher program. He has said he would not allow more expansion unless there is more accountability. 

Of course, we don’t buy that non-public schools are not accountable, but we will no doubt have to make our case in the second half of the session. 

Accountability from a state perspective, INPEA and our choice partners will be ready to address that. Indiana’s non-public schools are some of the most regulated in the country. 

Although to further our argument, we may need to share your local procedures. If a parent is upset or dissatisfied with something at your school, what is their recourse? I’m sure this is delineated in every non-public school’s handbook. On top of your local procedures, Indiana is a choice state and no family is forced to attend your school. They do have a choice! But before they get to that choice, what are your policies and procedures. We may need to know to make our point.

And outside of that particular issue, we will all need to be actively involved!  And not just you, the principal. We’ll need your boards and your parent communities reaching out to their Senators. We will need Senators who will be champions of choice. When Senators meet together privately in caucus, we’ll need our champions to stand up and say that all families should benefit from these programs. Indiana has historically led the country in implementing choice programs. Let’s not fall behind now! If we are going to get our legislative priorities to the finish line in 2023, we are going to need a large and loud voice rising up for nonpublic schools and their families. SO Get Ready! 

And we’ll see you back here next week on the Statehouse Express!