By Dustin Beach
INDIANAPOLIS – The House bill which would make the state school chief position appointed needs “substantial changes” before the Senate will hear it, according to Sen. Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne.
The bill authored by House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, would eliminate the superintendent’s position and replace it with a governor-appointed secretary of education in the year 2021. The bill passed out of the House Monday.
However, a similar bill in the Senate was voted down on the same day, and Senate rules bar any legislation with similar wording to a bill that has already been voted down from being heard in that chamber in the same session.
Long said the bill could only be heard in the Senate if major changes were made to make the language between the two bills different. Those changes could be to the year it takes effect or adding requirements for the position, which the bill currently lacks.
“You can change the date back to 2025, for instance and put some different qualifications in it, and it would make it a different bill,” said Long.
Whether those changes will be made to the bill to allow it on the floor is still not known.
“The question really is whether our caucus wants to go through that process or not and we haven’t discussed that yet and we will,” said Long.
Long would not rule out addressing concerns some senators had with the original bill, particularly those who wanted someone with a background in public education and an Indiana residency requirement.
“If we take the issue back up again, I think that’s a valid concern, and I think a valid criticism of it,” he said.
Long continued by saying he would prefer someone who lived in Indiana to lead the education department.
Currently the superintendent of public instruction is elected. Opponents argue worry making the position appoint would strip the power away from voters.
Supporters say the bill would ensure less discord between the governor and the education chief, a problem recently seen between former Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.
Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.