Thursday, March 15, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #320 – March 15, 2018

Dear Friends,

The threatened pillar of public education stills stands. At least for now, every public school district in Indiana will still be run by a school board of district residents.

The Indiana General Assembly did not vote on House Bill 1315 last night, the Muncie-Gary-fiscal indicators bill. They ran out of time before the midnight deadline.

The bill is dead.

I watched on the internet as the confusing and unexpected events unfolded.

In the Senate

At 11:58, Senator Mishler presented House Bill 1374 in record setting time and the voting machine was opened. At 11:58:58, the Senate passed 1374 by a vote of 40-3, and then turned to their last bill, House Bill 1315. Confusion reigned in the front of the Senate as leaders realized that the last vote could not be completed in less than a minute.

Senator Long, President Pro Tem, announced that the Governor had “issued an order” extending the session to 1:00am on March 15th so that the Senate could consider the final bill in an orderly way.

The announcement was surprising. After observing the Indiana General Assembly for 22 sessions, I had never heard that such an extension was even a possibility.

Senator Lanane, Minority Leader of the Senate Democrats and who as the Senator representing Muncie had fought HB 1315 saying “we are taking away the democracy of the people of Muncie in this bill”, responded to Senator Long’s announcement. It was 12:03 when he rose to say that the Democrats had no role in the fact that the Senate “couldn’t get the work done on time” since Republicans hold a supermajority and run everything. He said now they are “changing the rules”. He concluded: “This is not right. It should have never occurred. We are making it up as we go along.”

The story then zigzagged again unexpectedly when Senator Long agreed with Senator Lanane that the Senate should stop now and not hear 1315. Senator Long said things had “melted down” on the House side as well. He said “I’m not confident we can go forward.” He said “It’s unfortunate. We are where we are. We need to wrap up our business. We need to leave the last bill where it is. We moved all legislation save HB 1315.” He said “We ran out of time on negotiations. I apologize for the chaotic close to this session.”

At 12:08, Senator Long said “I need a motion. It’s been a good year. Thanks to all of you. It’s time for us to go home.” He then moved to adjourn Sine Die. A loud voice vote approved the motion.

It was 12:10 am.

In the House of Representatives

Time ran out on the House side as well.

Bills coming to a vote on the last night must be approved by the Rules Committee to set aside time deadlines. Then they are eligible to go back to the House floor for the final vote. The House Rules Committee, which meets two floors above the House Chamber in Room 404, took up House Bill 1315 as Chairman Torr noted that it is “14 minutes until midnight.”

Representative Tim Brown, the sponsor of HB 1315, briefly explained the bill, saying Ball State University would take over the Muncie schools and that there would be an appointed school board. He said the final bill is like the original House version which had been approved by a partisan vote.

Then Representative Pierce said “Point of order! There are no signatures on this report.”

Chairman Torr said “Let’s move to HB 1104 while we get a signature page.” HB 1104 was discussed and approved 7-3. It was now 11:51.

Chairman Torr then called on Representative Brown to present his other bill on sales tax, HB 1316. It was discussed and approved 7-3. It was now 11:55.

Chairman Torr still didn’t have a signed copy of the conference committee report on HB 1315, but he asked Representative Brown for assurances that a signed copy is on file and then allowed a vote. The committee approved 1315 by a 7-3 vote. It was now 11:56.

Chairman Torr then adjourned the Rules Committee as someone was saying “What about Senate Bill 242” and Chairman Torr was answering “We don’t have time.” It was now 11:57.

As it turned out, there was no final House floor vote on HB 1230, HB 1104, HB 1316, SB 242 or HB 1315.

Later, as I returned to internet coverage of the House after the Senate adjourned, Speaker Bosma was going through final pre-adjournment motions. He then asked for a motion to adjourn Sine Die.

The motion passed at 12:15 am.

Your Participation Made the Difference!

And that’s how it happened that all public school districts are still run by a school board of district residents. With your help and the hundreds of messages that were sent, this particular attack on a core principle of public education has been blocked for now.

There is talk of a special session to pass the final bills. The forces pushing to diminish the pillar principles of public education are persistent. Stay alert!

Where Do We Stand Now?
  • Muncie and Gary both still have school boards elected by the voters even though in both districts the emergency managers have assumed by current law all the powers of the school board until such time as the financial mismanagement problems are corrected. Testimony given throughout the session reported that both emergency managers were making good progress in fixing the problems.
  • All school board members in Muncie are still residents of the Muncie school district and not outsiders.
  • The experimental Ball State plan to disconnect the Muncie public schools from the education laws of Indiana except for the 29 laws specifically listed in HB 1315 will not go forward. This experiment had never before been proposed for an entire public school district. This bill was never reviewed by the House and Senate Education Committees but instead only went through the finance committees.
Your participation made a huge difference in contesting House Bill 1315 leading to its unusual demise. You know what you did, and this time it made the difference. Thank you!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is again representing ICPE in the new budget session which began on January 3, 2017. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.


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