Attempts to amend school chief bill fail

By Dustin Beach
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Two Democrats tried to alter a bill that would make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position but both amendments failed in the House Thursday.

House Bill 1005, authored by House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, would eliminate the position the position of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in the year 2021 and replace it with a governor-appointed Secretary of Education.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington presents his amendment on House Bill 1005. Pierce wanted to ensure the top education offical has “Hoosier values.” Photo by Dustin Beach, TheStatehouseFile.com

The first amendment, offered by House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, would have asked voters on the 2018 ballots whether they feel the position should be elected or appointed.

“So what my amendment will do is simply pose the question to the voters at the next election, should the state superintendent be elected? Yes or no,” said Pelath.

The amendment was voted down 62-28.

The second amendment from Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, would have added a requirement that the selected head of education both live in the Hoosier State for two years prior to being selected and have at least seven years working in the public education system.

“I just think the most important qualification we should have for anyone who is going to be serving the people of Indiana is that they have some Hoosier values,” said Pierce.

The amendment also failed by a vote of 62-28.

The goal of the bill, according to supporters, is to ensure that the governor’s agenda on education and the education chief are on the same page. Discord among the two offices was most recently seen between former Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.

Opponents argue it would strip the power to determine the position out of voters’ hands.

The House can take a final vote on the bill as early as next week.

Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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