2023 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

In the wee hours of Friday April 29th, the 123rd Indiana General Assembly came to a close.

Many bills now await Governor Holcomb’s signature, signing the bill into law, or veto. The Governor has 7 days to complete this process. If he does not move on the bill, on day 8, it automatically becomes a law. The 123rd session was a budget year, making it a long session. Initially, Indiana homeschoolers were included in the budget. IAHE Action worked diligently with our legislators to ensure our freedom. 

IAHE Action has processed 4,770 documents consisting of each and every bill, resolution, fiscal note, and proposed amendment through our tracking software. From this, 896 bills and resolutions have been flagged and individually reviewed by our volunteer team. The bill reading team and policy analysts have identified 47 bills pertaining to parental rights and home education that were prioritized and continuously tracked throughout the session. Our team and interns did a stellar job being present at the Statehouse, watching meetings online, communicating with the team, and following up with the offices of elected officials.

While we may not agree with every policy or vote, we continue to identify and reach out to like-minded individuals holding office with the goal of preserving our parental right to educational liberty for our children.

Bills that Impacted Indiana Homeschoolers and Their Outcomes

HB 1001: Budget Bill
Final Status: Passed
The budget bill initially contained nonaccredited non public schools with less than one employee as it pertained to HB 1002.

Indiana homeschoolers were removed from the budget bill in the House of Representatives.

HB 1002 (Representative Chuck Goodrich): Career Scholarship Account
Final Status: Passed
The CSA program, geared towards reviving the trade schools in Indiana starting with high school students, initially included homeschoolers.

For homeschoolers, IDOE would deposit $500 into the student’s 529 account after the student completed the training, passed the exams, and earned a certificate. This deposit would be required to be recorded on the family’s yearly tax statement. The student’s income would be tracked over the course of 10 years after his/her certification. The median earned income for all participants would be listed on IDOE’s website.

Indiana homeschoolers were removed from HB 1002 in the House of Representatives. 

HB 1407 (Representative Dale DeVon): Parental Rights
Final Status: Failed
The Parental Rights bill aimed to codify parental rights and responsibilities to and for their children and added protections from unlawful seizure of children from stable homes. This was a direct response to the court case In the Matter of A.C. (Minor Child), Child in Need of Services, and M.C. (Mother) and J.C. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services. In this case, a minor child identified as transgender and developed an eating disorder. The court acknowledged the parents had done nothing wrong but removed the child from the home due to his continued self-harm through an eating disorder.

This bill passed out of the House of Representatives but was stymied in the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure committee. 

HB 1501 (Representative Timothy Wesco): Nonaccredited Nonpublic Diplomas
Final Status: Failed
Introduced by Representative Timothy Wesco and co-authored by Representative Ryan Lauer, HB 1501 was among the bills that did not make it out of committee.

This bill would have codified nonaccredited non public school diplomas and would have alleviated the increased diploma discrimination Indiana homeschoolers are facing.

HB 1613 (Representative Zach Payne): Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program (IN ESA)
Final Status: Failed
This bill proposed to expand the definition of an eligible student. It did not receive a hearing in the House of Representatives Education Committee.

SB 12 (Senator James Tomes) Material Harmful to Minors;
HB 1130 (Representative Becky Cash): Material Harmful to Minors

Final Status: Failed, Inserted, and Passed

SB 12 and HB 1130 both failed in their respective chambers. However, the language was added into HB 1447 in the wee hours of April 29th, 2023. The Material Harmful to Minors bills created quite a stir at the Statehouse this year as school librarians and educators fought to maintain their prosecutorial exemption regarding providing material meeting the definitions of obscene matter and/or matter harmful to minors as outlined in existing code (IC 35-49-2). 

SB 167 (Senator Jean Leising): FAFSA
Final Status: Passed
This would require all students except those in nonaccredited nonpublic schools to fill out the FAFSA for each student.

This bill was signed into law by the Governor on April 20, 2023.

SB 305 (Senator Brian Buchanan): Education Scholarship Account (ESA) 
Final Status: Failed
In 2021, Indiana passed the ESA program specifically for students with disabilities. Under the current law, these students must take all required state standardized tests and divorce the local public school of any and all supports.

There are a number of issues with the ESA program:

-No legal classification
-No avenue for the child to earn a diploma
-No avenue for the child to receive a transcript
-No avenue for attendance tracking

This bill  sought to remove the earlier provisions, raise the accepted income eligibility requirements, remove the disability requirement, all the while not remedying any of the issues above.

Several times, Senator Brian Buchanan echoed that any child taking these funds would not be classified as a homeschool student. 

SB 471 (Senator Faddy Qaddoura): Universal Childcare and Pre-K
Final Status: Failed
This would have lowered the compulsory age of attendance to the age of 4 starting the 2025-2026 school year. This bill did not receive a hearing in the Senate Education and Career Development committee.

The research simply does not support early formalized education.

SB 467 (Senator Greg Taylor): Age for Compulsory Attendance
Final Status: Failed
This bill would have lowered the compulsory age to 5 years old.

Again, the research simply does not support early formalized education. 

Freedom Isn’t Free!

The national trend regarding expanding access to Government funding continues to be couched in the phrase “school choice”. Indiana home educators have the maximum flexibility of all choices. Indiana homeschoolers are free of Government regulation. We determine all aspects of our children’s education free of government interference and measurement.

We are free of the regulation that comes with Government funding.

IAHE and IAHE Action would like to thank Senator Greg Walker, Senator Jeffrey Raatz, Senator John Crane, Senator Brian Buchanan, Representative Jeffrey Thompson, Representative Robert Behning, Representative Becky Cash, Representative Julie McGuire, and other State legislators for their continued support of Indiana homeschoolers and actively defending our rights.  

Congratulations to our IAHE Action Government Affairs Interns, Emily Bowyer and Elijah Sager, for completing the IAHE Government Affairs Internship! Emma Sager, a freshman at Cedarville University, joyfully returned as a collegiate intern this year and joined bill reader Jill Wildermuth this session. Our bill reading team was led out by senior bill reader, Bryan Varner. Thank you all for serving Indiana home educators so well! We’re grateful for your attention to detail and countless hours spent pouring over legislation.

With the help of volunteers like you, IAHE and IAHE Action continue to defend homeschool and parental freedoms.

Wanting to make a difference next session? 

Building relationships with your state Senator and Representative is vital! IAHE Action made 5 Calls to Action this session. Your voices were heard and are instrumental in our legislative process.

Join our IAHE Action mailing list to stay informed! https://www.iaheaction.net/stay-informed/

IAHE Action cannot do what it does without your support. Thank you to our donors!

DONATE NOW to IAHE Action to support ongoing efforts to protect your homeschooling and parental rights.