As Gov. Mike Pence found out with when the preschool program he strongly endorsed was knocked off course in the Indiana Senate after strong support in the House, there are no guarantees in the lawmaking process.
At least the Pence-backed House Bill 1004, which was rewritten by the Senate Education Committee to drop the preschool program in favor of a summer study committee on the subject, got a hearing. The authors of other education bills that have inflamed some passion, such as one that would require cursive writing instruction (Senate Bill 113) and one designed to make it easier for schools to celebrate Christmas (Senate Bill 326) are still waiting to see if either will get a committee hearing or if they will die before they ever reach the House floor.
Time could be running out for those bills. The legislature’s 2014 session is moving quickly toward its March 14 adjournment date. To become law, bills under consideration must be passed and approved by both the House and Senate by March 4, a little over a week away.
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Bills originating in the House need approval first by a committee, then by the full House. Then they move to the Senate where again approvals must come from a committee and the full Senate. The process is the same for bills that originate in the Senate. Those that make it through both the House and Senate may need a further conference to resolve any differences that arise between the House and Senate versions. Finally, they need the governor’s signature.
In all, 43 education-related bills have passed either the House or Senate. It’s likely that not all of those will win approval from both chambers. Here’s a looks at where education bills that are moving toward approval stand.
There are no education bills that have passed the House that have also passed the Senate yet. Bills already passed by the Senate that have now passed the House include:
- State fair absences. Senate Bill 114 would allow excused absences from school for children participating in the state fair. It passed the House 93-0.
- Veterans to teachers. Senate Bill 331 is designed to ease the transition from military service to teaching. It passed the House 93-0.
- School resource officers. Senate Bill 85 allow grants for law officers in schools to be used for training the officers and requires them to be employed by a law enforcement agency. It passed the House 91-0.
These bills have passed the House Education Committee that are awaiting action by the full House:
- Common Core. Senate Bill 91, which voids Common Core academic standards.
- Charter school accountability. Senate Bill 205 limits charter school contracts to seven years and requires sponsors to close schools that don’t meet minimum standards. The bill also establishes a means for determining if schools stay in state takeover.
- Allergic reaction injections. Senate Bill 245 allows school districts to keep EpiPens and administer them if needed.
- Teacher choice program. Senate Bill 264 makes highly rated teachers who take jobs at D- or F-rated traditional public or charter schools eligible for extra pay if the legislature approves money for stipends in next year’s budget.
- Voucher special education. Senate Bill 282 would send extra special education funding to private schools when students in special education use vouchers to attend.
- Charter school funding flexibility. Senate Bill 321 gives charter school operators new flexibility to share funds across multiple schools.
Bills that are still being considered by the House Education Committee:
- Tax cap fix. Senate Bill 143 would give districts more flexibility to manage their debt and avoid shortfalls that have resulted from property tax caps in some districts.
- Drop Out Recovery Charter Schools. Senate bill 159 would continue to fund dropout recovery charter schools, which mostly serve adults, separately from the K-12 funding formula. It lifts a restriction against opening new dropout recovery charter schools but also creates a new approval process for them.
- School safety division. Senate Bill 344 establishes a school building safety division within the Indiana Department of Education.
These education-related bills have budget implications and therefore are awaiting consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee:
- Teacher loan payback. Senate Bill 330 would provide grants to part time college students and offer college loan reimbursement to teachers in high demand fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
- Complexity index. Senate Bill 363 makes changes to the way school poverty is calculated for some school districts.
House bills that have passed the Senate Education Committee, or another committee, and are awaiting action by the full Senate include:
- Preschool study. House Bill 1004 once contained a preschool pilot program, but it was dropped by the education committee and replaced with a plan to study the issue over the summer.
- Drop out recovery charter schools. House Bill 1028 requires a study of dropout recovery charter schools, which mostly serve adults. The schools prefer to be funded via the K-12 funding formula. State law currently funds them separately and limits and new schools from opening.
- Career and technical education. House Bill 1064 creates a study of the return on investment of career and technical education programs in Indiana.
- Expanded background checks. House Bill 1233 requires school employees receive an expanded background check every five years.
- High ability students. House Bill 1319 requires more reporting from schools about students who score in the high ability range on ISTEP.
- Bond refunding. House Bill 1340 allows for bonds to be refunded when schools consolidate.
- Allergic reaction injections. House Bill 1323 allows colleges to keep EpiPens and administer them if needed.
- Tax cap fix. House Bill 1062 is similar to Senate Bill 143, aimed at giving districts more flexibility to manage their debt and avoid shortfalls that have resulted from property tax caps in some districts.
This bills are still being considered by the Senate Education Committee:
- Athletic participation. House bill 1047 allows virtual charter school students to participate in sports at their local public school districts.
- Charter School compacts. House Bill 1063 allows districts to trade building space or services to charter schools in return for the ability to count test scores from charter schools in the district averages.
- School transfers. House Bill 1079 allows the siblings of a student who has transferred from one district to another to have preference for making the same transfer.
- Career and technical diploma. House Bill 1213 creates a new career and technical diploma.
- Innovation schools. House Bill 1321 would allow Indianapolis Public Schools to forge unique partnerships with charter schools.
- Teacher preparation program. House Bill 1388 requires teacher education programs to submit data about their graduates to the Indiana Department of Education and establishes a rating system.
Education-related bills being considered by other Senate committees include:
- Indiana Knowledge Network. House Bill 1003 would allow education data to be used as part of the state’s workforce development efforts. It’s assigned to the Senate’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.
- Day care safety. House Bill 1036 adds health, safety, education and training requirements for day care centers that receive federal aid that is administered by the state. It’s assigned to the Health and Provider Services Committee.