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Bill eliminating election of state superintendent revived

A bill eliminating the election of the superintendent of public instruction from state law has been revived by a Senate committee. The bill would replace the state superintendent with a secretary of education, which would be appointed by the governor.

HB 1005 is one of two bills this session that removes the ability of voters to elect the superintendent of public instruction. The bill easily passed in the House along party lines. However, the Senate’s version was a different story.

SB 179 failed in the Senate 26-23, garnering opposition from some Republican senators.

Initially, it was unclear if HB 1005 could even be considered in the Senate due to Senate rules preventing the hearing of a similar bill that was once defeated on the floor of the Senate during the same session. However, Senate Pro Tem David Long announced last week that HB 1005 would be heard in the Senate Rules Committee Monday — and that the bill would be substantially different from the already defeated SB 179.

Specifically, HB 1005 was amended to change the effective start date to 2025 (previously 2021) and would require the appointed secretary of education to be an Indiana resident who holds an advanced degree along with personal or professional leadership success.

ISTA Vice President Keith Gambill testified against the bill.

“Indiana has a long tradition of electing its superintendent of public instruction,” said Gambill. “This is something that should be left to the voters to decide.”

Democratic members of the Senate Rules Committee opposed both the resurrection of HB 1005, as well as its content.

“Over half of our state budget is dedicated to K-12 education, and Hoosiers should have their voices heard at the ballot box when it comes to education policy in the state of Indiana,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D – Anderson). The bill passed the Senate Rules Committee along party lines 8-4. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.