Capitol Insider

Capitol Insider 

January 20, 2023 

And They Are OFF! 

            Early in any legislative session, we start with separating the wheat from the chaff. In this case, bills that are moving or likely to move from those that will never see the light of day beyond being filed (introduced).   

            In an attempt to help us all see the big picture, we’ll start with the bills that were heard this week in both education committees. Then we’ll add some of those to “watch” for movement. The deadline for posting bills to be heard is 24 hours before a committee hearing. For the House and Senate that would mean late Monday or early Tuesday for their Wednesday hearing. 

            Remember, if a bill is 3 digits or less, it is a Senate bill. If the bill has 4 digits, it is a House bill. 

Bills that were heard this week 

Both the House and Senate Education Committees met this week.   

In the House, the only bill heard was HB1002, commonly called the “Reinvent High Schools” bill. The bill creates a new voucher specifically impacting CTE. It is called the Career Scholarship Account (CSA). Testimony was taken on the bill which will be amended and possibly voted on during committee next week. 

There is so much left out of many of this year’s ‘savings account’ bills – one such thing is how much will this cost. When Rep. DeLaney asked if an employer (private provider) will be paid, author Rep. Goodrich said if the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet approves it, then yes. DeLaney then asked if the student gets paid. Rep. Behning’s cryptic reply was “It is paid.” 

            In the Senate, four bills were heard: SB35 (Gaskill), SB168 (Leising), SB305 (Buchanan), and SB342 (Freeman). Practice in Senate Ed is to hear bills one week and take testimony, then in the second week, the bills can be amended and committee vote taken. No more testimony is taken after a bill is amended. Changes to process during hearings include a limit of 30 minutes total for each side – 30 minutes for support and 30 minutes for opposing. Speakers are limited to three minutes. Anyone who does not get to testify may email testimony to Chairman Raatz’s office to be distributed to committee members. Two changes for committee member that seemingly impacts the Democrat members more than the Republicans is that committee members are limited to two questions to the author. In the past, as committee members had questions related to someone’s testimony, they could ask at the conclusion of the testimony. Now they have to wait until everyone is finished then they can ask to recall a speaker if there are questions related to their testimony. Summary and brief comments follow: 

SB 35: Financial literacy. Provides that, beginning with the cohort of students who are expected to graduate from a public school, a charter school, or a state accredited nonpublic school in 2027, an individual must successfully complete a personal financial responsibility course before the individual may graduate. Creates requirements for content that must be covered in a personal financial responsibility course.  

There was much support for this bill. Since there are eleven Republican authors/co-authors, there is much support from legislators as well. Other bills for this topic are HBs 1281, 1350, 1414. Again, there was much not detail included in the bill such as who will teach it, how long the course must be, and will it be a graduation requirement. SB68 would “require the state board must amend the Core 40 curriculum model to provide that a student satisfies the math course requirement by successfully completing either: (1) an Algebra II course; or (2) a personal finance course.” 

SB 168: Statewide assessment results. Requires (rather than permits) the department of education to include in a contract with a statewide assessment vendor entered into or renewed after June 30, 2023, a requirement that the vendor provide a summary of a student’s statewide assessment results. Makes a conforming change and a technical correction. 

There was no testimony either supporting or opposing. One would assume this bill is a given. But it’s early and one should never assume. 

SB 305: Indiana education scholarship account program. Amends the: (1) definition of “eligible student” for purposes of eligibility under the Indiana education scholarship account program (program); (2) definition of “qualified expenses” under the program to include additional items, including computer hardware or other technological devices, and remove certain in-person requirements; (3) grant amount that an eligible student may receive under the program; and (4) date by which a parent or emancipated student must open an education scholarship account to participate in the program. Provides that the treasurer of state shall accept applications July 1 through June 30 of each year for the immediately following school year. (Current law requires applications to be submitted for an eligible student not later than September 1 for the immediately following school year.) Establishes requirements regarding using grants under the program for computer hardware or other technological devices. 

THE bill that would change public education forever has been called the “Universal Voucher Bill.” And if it passes as written, that’s exactly what it is. It removes being limited to special needs students, removes the income cap, opens the door for year-round application to the Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program (a.k.a. Education Savings Accounts) for all, and changes the funding level from 90% of ADM tuition to 100%. It leaves oversight of this to the State Treasurer rather than the Dept. of Ed. Seriously? Given there is a potential of one million students who could participate in this, and the fiscal note says for each 300 who do, it would require another full-time employee at the cost of about $66,000 --- would add another $22M!!! HB 1613 has similar content. 

SB 342: Teacher hiring. Prohibits a school corporation, charter school, or entity with certain school contracts from employing or contracting with specified individuals, and requires the termination of certain individuals. Prohibits a school from hiring or contracting with specified individuals without a majority vote of the school board (or equivalent for a charter or nonpublic school), and provides that, if a school hires a specified individual, the school must: (1) notify the department of education in writing of the hiring; (2) explain why the hiring was necessary; and (3) set forth the school's plan to protect the safety of students. 

Last year AFT IN lobbyist Joel Hand was able to work with Sen. Freeman to limit the possibility of a minor offense that might have been committed at age 21 from causing someone to lose their teaching job of perhaps even 20 years. Language in this year’s bill calls for modification that the author has pledged to work with our concerns and those of others. 

Bills to watch for potential hearing 

In the interest of time and space, this list will be abbreviated. More information will follow in future Capitol Insiders. 

HB1001 – The budget bill. A version has been released. It will change drastically before it passes at the end of session. 

HB1036 – School Board Elections. Others with similar title: 1074, 1428, 177, 188, 217. 

HB 1123 – Elimination of Textbook Fees. Others with similar title: 1203, 1255, 395. 

SB 12 – Materials harmful to a minor (book banning). Similar title: 1130 and 1522. 

SB 327 – Gary Schools (return district to Gary). Similar 1491, 436. 

SB 30 – 13th check. 1028 is similar. 

 Bi-Weekly Legislative Updates via Zoom 

            Members are invited to join AFT Indiana’s bi-weekly zoom. Since participants are admitted by the host, please send a link request to Sally Sloan at sjsloan@aftindiana. Include your name and local. Names will be forwarded to zoom host Rick Matysak who will admit those on the list. Every effort is made to keep these meetings to one hour. Start time is 7 pm, Eastern. The next meeting is scheduled for February 2. At that meeting, participants will be reminded of plans for our February 8th Rally at the Statehouse. 

To Subscribe or Unsubscribe 

            Please share this newsletter with your members. If anyone wants to receive it directly, please send an email to sjsloan@aftindiana.org. And if you wish to have your name removed from the list, please send an email to sjsloan@aftindiana.org.    

Helpful Links 

General Assembly page that will take you to almost anything you could want regarding the legislature and legislators. 

Find your own state legislator. 

For a list of ALL legislators, start on home page, see upper right (Search, Code, Bills, Legislators) – click on Legislators. You have the option of ALL then download a pdf. 

All committees (then choose the one you want). 

Senate daily committee calendar. 

House daily committee calendar. 

If you click on “legislation,” you can get to bills by number, or choose by legislator, or by subject. Resolutions are there, too. 

When the House and Senate are in session.    

There is a NEW page for the General Assembly. Try it. It’s good. I just haven’t found everything there yet.    

AFT Indiana Calendar 

February 2 -- AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

FEBRUARY 8 – AFT Indiana Day of Action, 11 AM Eastern, Statehouse 

February 16 – AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central February 20 – Presidents’ Day; ICPE Rally 

March 2 - AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

March 4 – AFT Indiana Presidents’ Council; Exec Bd meeting. Holiday Inn Lafayette 

March 16 – AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

March 30 -- AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

April 13 -- AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

April 27 – tentative: AFT Indiana Legislative ZOOM, 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central 

April 29 – statutory end of session 

May 5-6 – Annual Convention - The Convention will be in Anderson. Presidents should receive a Convention Call near the end of January with all of the details. Contact Erin Suttle [assistant@aftindiana.org] with questions or concerns.  

AFT Indiana Day of Action 

Indiana Statehouse 

February 8, 2023 

4th Floor North

 

Sally J Sloan

Executive Director

AFT Indiana

429 N. Pennsylvania, Suite 407

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Office: 317-299-5395, ext 1

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Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

Sharing more pathways to student debt relief

As the landscape of student debt shifts, and more and more opportunities allow borrowers to have their debt relieved, the AFT is using every avenue to ensure that the word is out. In affiliate meetings, telephone town halls, media coverage and social media, the union is spreading the news, and at a student debt clinic at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31, AFT President Randi Weingarten vowed to reach as many people as possible with information that could save them tens—and sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars.

Budget Proposal Reflects Investment in Education

Budget Proposal Reflects Investment in Education “Thanks to the advocacy and engagement of AFT Indiana members across the state, Indiana legislators have proposed a budget that invests in public education,” said GlenEva Dunham, President of AFT Indiana. “Our members have worked hard and long advocating for public school funding that provides for student needs as well as increases to our lagging teacher salaries,” she continued. The Governor and legislative leaders made the announcement Tuesday.

Your vote is your voice

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column outlines the urgency of using our voices—our votes—in this life-changing election, when we will make a choice “between President Donald Trump, who has trafficked in chaos, fear, lies and division, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who seeks to reverse Trump’s failures on COVID-19 and the economy, and to unite and uplift the American people.” Besides the four crises we face—a pandemic, an economic crisis, racism and a climate emergency—democracy itself is on the ballot, as Trump continues to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.