Aside from the walkout by the House Democrats this week, there have been some interesting things happening at the Statehouse in the past two weeks. The controversial immigration bill passed the Senate and is on its way to the House, albeit with some changes. The equally controversial teacher evaluation and licensing bill has also moved on to the House and the unions are packing the Statehouse to protest the Right to Work legislation.
With regard to youth, there are some good and not so good things happening. First, SB 56 Child Care Regulation was not held for vote and is therefore dead for this session. Senator Miller explained that she has not heard enough “compelling” evidence to prove the need for state regulation of church-based childcare ministries. Also, SB538 Bullying Prevention was defeated in committee – a surprising move to most child advocates. Reasoning had to do with an already over-burdened education system and concern that the bill promoted gay rights.
Both SB 4 and HB 1019, dealing with youth suicide prevention, have crossed over to their respective houses. Given the support that both bills have seen, despite being amended, it is likely that this issue will have success in this session – a very positive outcome for our youth.
Finally, HB 1566 School Absenteeism and Dropouts (Porter) passed committee on Monday. This bill will:
- Require schools to report chronic absenteeism to the DOE, identify contributing factors to absenteeism and develop chronic absenteeism reduction plans.
- Directs the education roundtable to study and make recommendations concerning early childhood education.
- Allows school corporations to contract with nonprofit entities to provide health care services in school-based clinics.
Let’s hope for a peaceful solution to the standoff at the Statehouse so that we can get down to business and create some meaningful legislation that will help and not hurt the youth and families in our state.