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Two controversial bills move forward at the statehouse

A bill banning dedicated lanes and addressing reading literacy rates in the state are both moving forward.
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Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 22:26:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS – By law, the Indiana General assembly must finish legislating March 14th. Leadership has said they plan to finish on March 7th. Due to that self-imposed deadline, two bills that have become controversial are moving forward.

Senate Bill 52 has been a point of contention all legislative session. The billwould ban the use of dedicated lanes for public transit projects. The bill would also not allow for the city of Indianapolis to add anymore no turn on red signs, a point of contention last legislative session.

On Tuesday the bill had a hearing in the House roads and transportation committee. The 27th was the last day for senate bills to pass out of committee.

During the committee hearing the bill was amended. One amendment would require buses that are driving on dedicated lanes in the opposite direction of a one way to sound their horn.

Another amendment only restricts dedicated lanes for a year in the city of Indianapolis. Originally, the bill would have impacted the entire state. Several transit organizations from other Indiana cities showed opposition to the bill.

IndyGo as well as several Indianapolis officials have said this bill would kill the Blue Line. The Blue Line has yet to have construction started on it.

A short amount of testimony was allowed by the chair, and all those who testified opposed the bill. One of the people who testified against the bill was Kayla Bledsoe, who sold her car because of the blue line. She now rides the bus regularly as it is her primary form of transportation.

 

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"As a 21st century scholar I mean their whole spiel is that they want to retain and recruit Indiana talent,” Bledsoe said. “Bills like this make me not want to stay in Indiana and it makes me really highly consider leaving.”
 
Rep. Blake Johnson, who represents portions of Indianapolis that would be impacted by the blueline, got emotional as it was clear that the bill was going to pass out of the committee. His republican colleagues praised him for how hard he worked on this legislation, but the bill did pass out of the committee with a vote of 9-4 along party lines. It now heads to the house floor for consideration. However, due to the amendments on the bill it will have to go back to senate before it heads to the governor’s desk.

Another bill that is one step closer to becoming law is Senate Bill 1. The bill aims to address literacy issues in the state of Indiana. The issue of literacy is priority for democrats, republicans and the governor. It comes as recent data show that by the end of third grade, one in five students can’t read effectively.

Majority of the bill is supported by both parties, but a portion of it has democrats and some republicans concerned. After several intervention methods, if third graders aren' table to pass the reading assessment iRead by the end of their third grade year, they will be held back.

This has caused concerns over how it will impact the child’s mental health and if there will be enough teachers if a large number of students are held back.

"If we pass this mandatory retention policy, we are going to need more teachers in third grade. When they go to fourth grade we are going to need more teachers in fourth grade,” State Rep. Pat Boy, a Democrat representing Michigan City said. “We have a shortage of teachers already."

The bill passed out of the house with a vote of 69-27 along party lines. Due to amendments on the bill it goes back to the senate for a vote before it heads to the governor’s desk.