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Effort To Kill Appointed Superintendent Bill Fails, Senate Passes

Mccormick

Photo: General Assembly

Jennifer McCormick, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, center, discusses the Indiana Department of Eduction's budget request at the Hose Ways and Means Committee hearing on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.

A bill that would make the state school superintendent a political appointee of the governor, passed the full Senate Tuesday despite attempts by Democrats to kill the proposal.

In February, the Senate voted down its own bill to make the state’s elected schools chief an appointed position. Around the same time, House lawmakers approved their version.

But Democrats say a chamber rule should have ended the issue this session. The rule says a bill similar in language to a defeated bill may not be heard again in the Senate.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, led the charge to have House Bill 1005 pulled from consideration, arguing its intent was the same as Senate Bill 179. But his effort failed 26-24.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R- Ft. Wayne, has said the bill was altered enough so the issue could be revived. Senate lawmakers amended HB1005 to add a state residency requirement for candidates and push back the year it would go into effect to 2024.

That was also enough for five GOP senators who voted against the Senate version to change their minds and support the House bill to give it a 28-20 pass.

Democrat Senator Greg Taylor argued that the bill takes away a public right.“If we do this today, I don’t know if I can agree with you if you say we did the right thing for the citizens of the state of Indiana,” Taylor said to Long before the vote. “We are taking their right to vote away.”Supporters of the bill say it will remove politics from the superintendent position, allowing this person to work in tandem with the governor’s office.The frequent clashes in the past four years between the former superintendent and governor – Democrat Glenda Ritz and Republican Mike Pence – has fueled support for the legislation this year.

The change is supported by Republican Governor Eric Holcomb. After the vote, he tweeted: “Pleased to see IN Senate advance the bill changing the Superintendent of Public Instruction to an appointed position. NextLevelAgenda”

If the bill is signed, Indiana will become one of nine states where the top education official is appointed solely by the governor.

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  • lastcamp2

    Now here’s irony for you. People are overwhelmingly in favor of an elected Superintendent. But the ones we presumably elected to represent us find a way to brush off the rules so as to take that office out of the hands of the voters. Yes, the same voters that elected them.
    This follows the often heard Republican argument that this isn’t a democracy, it’s a republic. By that they mean we elect people to make our decisions for us, not to have them so what people think is best, because people don’t really know what is good for them. I guess that’s why they call themselves “Republicans” and not “Democrats.”

  • rick

    I’m sorry, but I thought the fact that Glenda Ritz and Mike Pence had a contentious relationship was a good thing for the education of our children. Someone please help me understand how appointed cronyism is a good thing. It wasn’t good for Tammany Hall, nor is it good for our children.

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